On the way to Wangerooge we stopped in Wilhelmshaven. Unfortunately, one day in Wilhelmshaven is hardly enough to get an impression of the city.
Wilhelmshaven is located on the north-west coast of the Jade Bay in the North Sea. In 1869, the first German war port on the Jade was inaugurated there. Since then, life in the city has been shaped by the presence of the navy.
Wilhelmshaven is home to the deep-water port with the greatest water depth in Germany. Germany’s largest oil transhipment port has also developed here; oil pipelines lead to refineries in the Rhine-Ruhr region and to Hamburg. The port also favoured the establishment of the petrochemical industry, the chemical industry and the power generating industry. The JadeWeserPort offers a tide-independent container terminal.
We strolled around the city a bit, but only got a small impression of what you can discover here.
Kaiser-Wilhelm-Brücke (Kaiser Wilhelm Bridge)
The city’s landmark is the Kaiser Wilhelm Bridge. The bridge was completed in 1907 and has been a listed building since 1975. It is considered one of the largest swing bridges in Germany. The Kaiser Wilhelm Bridge crosses the large harbour and connects Wilhelmshaven’s southern town with the southern beach.
The bridge has a span of 159 metres, is 9 metres high and 8 metres wide. The two halves of the bridge can be opened independently of each other and rotate clockwise through 90 degrees. From a static point of view, the double swing bridge belongs to the suspension bridges.
As the bridge is quite narrow, use by road traffic is only possible in one direction at a time. A traffic light regulates the traffic. Without this restriction, pedestrians and cyclists can pass through the bridge at any time when it is closed. Before the bridge is opened, barriers close off traffic and light signals draw attention to the turning process.
Unfortunately, we were not lucky enough to see the bridge open. It’s a pity, I would have loved to see a ship passing through.
Wilhelmshaven South Beach
After passing the bridge, we walked to the south beach. It was still quite early in the morning and additionally the end of October, so it was not surprising that the numerous restaurants and small shops were still closed. There were only a few walkers on the beach, which is well frequented in summer. At that time of year, everything seemed quiet and perfect for me to relax.
After a short walk, however, we were drawn further to the Wadden Sea Visitor Centre.
UNESCO Wadden Sea World Heritage Visitor Centre
The Lower Saxony Wadden Sea stretches in the North Sea from Cuxhaven to the Dutch border. It is a unique natural area whose protection is also essential for the preservation of countless animal and plant species.
The Wadden Sea Visitor Centre helps to educate people about the Wadden Sea and I loved visiting the diverse exhibition.
Up to now I had not been very much involved with the subject of the Wadden Sea, nor do I really remember ever having undertaken a Wadden Sea hike. I found it all the more interesting to learn more about the life of animals such as lugworms and cockles in the tidal flats. The exhibition was very varied and you could really go on a voyage of discovery with all your senses. Even a visit to a cutter was possible.
The exhibition also provides an insight into the history of the formation of the Jade Bay, insights into coastal protection and the threats posed by climate change and marine litter.
A visit to the panorama terrace is not to be missed. From there you can overlook the south beach and take a little peek into the outdoor areas of the German Naval Museum.
Südstrand 110 b
Christus- und Garnisonkirche (Christ and Garrison Church)
On the way back to our car, we passed the Christ and Garnion Church. I was a bit irritated by a thick rope (ship’s rope) leading down from the church tower to a mooring bollard. It looked like someone was trying to stop the church from “flying away”. In the meantime I know that it is an art installation by Borghild Eckermann.
Day trip Wilhelmshaven – Beach walk in Hooksiel
If I’m already at the sea, I naturally want to see and feel it too. So we left the city behind and went to a dreamy stretch of beach in Hooksiel.
We stopped at a large car park at a harbour and arrived at the beach after only a few metres. Here you can really end the day. A walk by the sea, looking out at the water in the sand by the dunes and certainly swimming and enjoying the sun in summer. We were even lucky enough to catch just the last few moments of tide, so I was able to experience first-hand what I had just learned at the Wadden Sea Visitor Centre. This reinforced my decision to want to experience a guided mudflat walk.
The perfect end to the day was the sunset – not over the water, but still just beautiful.