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Amazing Magdeburg Water Bridge: Longest Navigable Aqueduct in the World

Last updated on July 2nd, 2021

The Magdeburg Water Bridge in Germany is the longest navigable aqueduct that connects the Elbe-Havel Canal to the Mittelland Canal, crossing over the Elbe River.

What comes to your mind first when we say a bridge? Right, the first thing that comes to our mind is that a Bridge is a structure that acts as a passage for crossing any obstacle without blocking it. We usually see bridges built over rivers, lakes, or bridges for high-speed railways and metro.

But, have you heard about water bridges?

Magdeburg Conduit is a water bridge also known as a navigable aqueduct in the central region of Germany. It behaves as a waterway canal for crossing over a road, railway, valley, or other rivers. It can carry small or mid-sized boats and ships. Magdeburg conduit is among the most impressive bridges of its kind.

Introduction of Magdeburg Water Bridge

Magdeburg Navigable Aqueduct i

Magdeburg Navigable Aqueduct 

The Magdeburg Water Bridge is a large water bridge. It is located near Magdeburg city in central Germany.  It is Europe’s largest canal underbridge. The bridge is built over the Elbe river and it connects Mittlelandkanal and Elbe-Havel Canal.

The Mittellandkanal is to the western side of the river Elbe and the Elbe-Havel Canal is to the eastern side. This direct waterway link between the Mittellandkanal and Elbe-Havel Canal makes it easy for commercial ships to cross Rhineland and Berlin.

Elbe river which lies between the Mittellandkanal and the Elbe-Havel Canal is at a considerably lower level which created a problem as boats cannot go from one canal to another canal seamlessly. Without the water bridge, the boats had to travel 7-miles more which included a boat lift to descend the boat 60 feet down to Elbe river and then again use a lock to raise the ship to the canal’s water level.

The Magdeburg Water Bridge makes the way easy for ships because they don’t have to descend into the Elbe River and then again climb up as the bridge sets a straightway ahead of them.

Specifications of the Magdeburg Bridge

Kanalbrücke Magdeburg

Kanalbrücke Magdeburg

As stated above Magdeburg Conduit is a waterway bridge in the central part of Germany and it opened for service in 2003. The bridge is a type of beam bridge. It is 918 meters in length and 34 meters in width.

The length of the bridge is divided into two parts: on land it is 690 meters and on water 228 meters. The depth of the bridge is 4.25 meters and the longest span is 106 meters long. A span is the distance between the two intermediate supports of the structure. The bridge is built with a steel amount of 24,000 metric tons and a concrete quantity of 68,000 cubic meters.

Although the water bridge is mainly built for ease of ship travel, the bridge offers pathways on both sides for pedestrians and cyclists. The bridge is also equipped with a double lock. A lock is a device that helps in lowering and raising the ships or boats that is usually required when water levels of rivers or canals are different.

This double lock system on the bridge allows the vessels to level with Mittelland Canal and Elbe-Havel canal.

The History associated with Magdeburg Bridge

Magdeburg Bridge: A popular tourist attraction

Magdeburg Bridge: A popular tourist attraction pic: https://www.flickr.com/photos/chris1/122760708/in/photostream/

German engineers had an idea of building a water bridge over the Elbe River since the start of the 20th century. However, at that time Mittellandkanal project was proposed and it was under work in 1905. This project work continued till 1942 as it was built in different sections and the construction of all the sections took a long period and it was finally completed in 1941.

The Magdeburg bridge project was combined with the Mittellandkanal project but after the completion of Mittellandkanal, when it was time for the Magdeburg project it got halted because of the outbreak of the Second World War.

After the Second World War ended, East Germany was not willing to participate in the construction of the bridge. This was because of the Cold war that started after the 2nd World War. Due to the cold war scenario between East and West Germany, there was no necessity left for east-west trade between them.

When Germany reunified the construction of major water transport routes came into the picture and the water bridge construction got consideration.

Later, in 1998 the construction of the bridge started. The construction was completed in 2003 taking 5 years to complete and it was opened for transport the same year. The cost for building the bridge was declared to be 501 million euros.  In such a way the important water transport route of Germany came to be formed.

Also read: Famous Ship Canals Of The World

Facts about the Magdeburg Water Bridge

  • There are no charges applied for the use of the bridge as it is not tolled.
  • It is one of its kind and one of the most unique bridges.
  • It is also the longest water bridge built in the world with 918 meters in length.
  • Ship transportation stops if the river levels fall drastically.
  • The ships that pass through the bridge can carry loads up to 1350 metric tons. This is equivalent to 50 truckloads crossing over the bridge.
  • As mentioned above, it connects the Mittellandkanal and Elbe-Havel canal which is the most important route of trading in Germany as it further connects to Switzerland and France.

This was all the information about the Magdeburg Conduit, the water bridge of Germany. The unique and impressive bridge in the world is an engineering marvel. Everything ranging from basic ideas of the bridge, its specifications, and the history to the difficult journey of the bridge’s formation is given in the article.

We usually see bridges built over rivers, lakes, or bridges for high-speed railways and metro. In history, bridges were formed by fallen trees or by stepping stones. So basically, bridges have a long history about how they were created, what material was used, and how they have evolved since past centuries.

Humans come across technical development each day and thus there have been a lot of advancements in the formation of bridges. There are various types of bridges like beam bridge, Arch bridge, Suspension bridge, Cable-stayed bridge, Double decked bridge, movable bridge, and many more.

Magdeburg water bridge was an innovation developed to solve a transportation problem that was lingering for decades!

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