The lockage Kiel-Holtenau in the Kiel Canal is a very interesting stop on a tour to Kiel. There is a viewing platform that lets visitors oversee the lockage and it never takes long before the next ship comes into a lock.
Infos around the Lockage Kiel-Holtenau
The Kiel Canal is 98.6 meters long and is also called the North Sea-Baltic Sea Canal. As this name suggests, it connects the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. It is an artificial waterway and with the numbers of passing vessels, it is one of the busiest artificial shipping lanes in the world. By passing through the canal, ships cut off the long way around the Skagerrak. One of the two ship locks that make this passage possible is in Kiel.
A lock is a structure that allows ships to traverse sections with different water levels like in an elevator. That is necessary in Kiel because of differing water levels due to the tide and the weather and also because of different currents.
The Kiel canal began operating in 1895. The Kiel Holtenau lockage was opened at the same time. Today it also goes by the name “Kleine Schleuse” (Small Lock). It has two compartments with a usable length of 125 meters each and a usable width of 22 meters each. Every chamber has two tide gates for low tide and two tide gates for high tide. Passing the lock takes between 15 and 30 minutes.
In 1914 the lockage got two new chambers, the “Große Schleusen” (Big Locks). Here, ships have two compartments with a usable length of 310 meters each and a usable width of 42 meters each. Passing these locks takes between 20 and 25 minutes. If water levels are the same in the canal and the Baltic Sea the time needed to complete the passage can go down to 3 to 15 minutes.
On the South side of the Kiel Canal is a viewing platform called Kiel-Wik that oversees the lockage. It was built directly on top of a bunker from the second world war and rises above tide gate 4. The view from up there is great. The platform can be accessed from sunrise to sunset.
We came to the viewing platform on the first day of our Kiel trip as part of the tour with the Hop-on Hop-off Bus. The bus stops here for about 30 minutes and admission for the viewing platform is included in the bus ticket. When going there without the bus ticket a quick trip to a ticket machine will be necessary where tickets can be purchased for 1€ per adult.
We got off the bus despite the pouring rain. Unfortunately, the lift up to the platform was broken and we had to climb the steep stairs to the top of the bunker. That meant I had to shoulder my crutches and hop up the stairs so that I didn’t put any weight on my fractured foot. We were rewarded with a fabulous view and a ship passing through a lock. The time we had wasn’t quite enough as we wanted to take the Hop-on Hop-Off Bus back. We decided to come back for another visit the next day.
It was a good call because the next day we had a sunny sky and fantastic autumn weather. We got to see the Kiel-Holtenau Lockage without rain and umbrellas. We parked our car in a convenient visitor car park for free. We didn’t mind paying the 1€ for another ticket even though the lift was still broken. Now, we had enough time to read the info panels and inspect the miniature models of the lockage. A little café was open, too, and tempted us to a second morning coffee. We took our time on the viewing platform and observed the locking. It is very impressive to observe bigger ships in the lock.
Prinz-Heinrich-Brücke (Prince Henry Bridge)
Back at the car, we decided to follow the route of the Hop-on Hop-off Bus for a bit. The day before, I had noticed a little car park at the Prinz-Heinrich-Brücke (western bank). From said car park it wasn’t far at all to the bridge from which we enjoyed a view of the canal. The high bridge is 518 meters long and has been open for motorised vehicles and pedestrians since 1972.
A truly great view was waiting for us. From high up on the bridge, we saw the Kiel-Holtenau Lockage and the Firth of Kiel. Ships that looked like toys passed beneath us. We highly recommend this stop. It is a viewing platform that is free and that has a fantastic view indeed.