- Not to be confused with the similarly-pronounced Elba.
|Czech: Labe, German: Elbe, Low German: Ilv or Elv|
The Elbe (Labe) near Děčín, Czech Republic
|Countries||Czech Republic, Germany|
|Regions||Hradec Králové, Pardubice,
Central Bohemia, Ústí nad Labem,
Brandenburg, Lower Saxony,
|- left||Vltava, Ohře, Mulde, Saale, Ohre, Ilmenau, Luhe, Oste|
|- right||Jizera, Schwarze Elster, Havel, Elde, Bille, Alster|
|Cities||Pardubice, Ústí nad Labem, Dresden, Meißen, Wittenberg, Dessau, Magdeburg, Hamburg, Stade, Cuxhaven|
|- location||Krkonoše, Czech Republic|
|- elevation||1,386 m (4,547 ft)|
|- elevation||0 m (0 ft)|
|Length||1,091 km (678 mi)|
|Basin||148,268 km2 (57,247 sq mi)|
|- average||711 m3/s (25,109 cu ft/s)|
|- max||1,232 m3/s (43,508 cu ft/s)|
|- min||493 m3/s (17,410 cu ft/s)|
|Discharge elsewhere (average)|
|- Děčín||303 m3/s (10,700 cu ft/s)|
The Elbe (Czech: Labe (help·info); German: Elbe; Low German: Elv) is one of the major rivers of Central Europe. It rises in the Krkonoše Mountains of the northern Czech Republic before traversing much of Bohemia (Czech Republic), then Germany and flowing into the North Sea at Cuxhaven, 110 km northwest of Hamburg. Its total length is 1,094 kilometres (680 mi).
The Elbe River basin, comprising the Elbe and its tributaries, has a catchment area of 148,268 square kilometres (57,247 sq mi), the fourth largest in Europe. The basin spans four countries, with its largest parts in Germany (65.5%) and the Czech Republic (33.7%). Much smaller parts lie in Austria (0.6%) and Poland (0.2%). The basin is inhabited by 24.5 million people.
In the Czech Republic 
The Elbe rises at an elevation of about 1,400 metres (4,593 ft) in the Krkonoše (also known as Giant Mountains or in German as Riesengebirge) on the northwest borders of the Czech Republic near Labská bouda. Of the numerous small streams whose waters compose the infant river, the most important is the Bílé Labe, or White Elbe. After plunging down the 60 metres (197 ft) of the Labský vodopád, or Elbe Falls, the latter stream unites with the steeply torrential Malé Labe, and thereafter the united stream of the Elbe pursues a southerly course, emerging from the mountain glens at and continuing on to Pardubice, where it turns sharply to the west. At Kolín some 43 kilometres (27 mi) further on, it bends gradually towards the north-west.
At Mělník its stream is more than doubled in volume by the Vltava, or Moldau, a river which winds northwards through Bohemia. Although upstream from the confluence Vltava is longer (434 kilometres (270 mi) against 294 kilometres (183 mi)), has larger discharge and larger drainage basin, due to historical reasons (at the confluence the Elbe flows through prominent wide valley while the Vltava, flowing into the valley, meets the Elbe at almost a right angle, so it appears as a tributary) the river continues as Elbe.
Some distance lower down, at Litoměřice, the waters of the Elbe are tinted by the reddish Ohře (Eger). Thus augmented, and swollen into a stream 140 metres (459 ft) wide, the Elbe carves a path through the basaltic mass of the České Středohoří, churning its way through a deep, narrow rocky gorge.
In Germany 
Shortly after crossing the Czech-German frontier, and passing through the sandstone defiles of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, the stream assumes a north-westerly direction, which on the whole it preserves right to the North Sea.
The river rolls through Dresden and finally, beyond Meißen, enters on its long journey across the North German Plain passing along the former border of East Germany, touching Torgau, Wittenberg, Dessau, Magdeburg, Wittenberge, and Hamburg on the way, and taking on the waters of the Mulde and Saale from the west, and those of the Schwarze Elster, Havel and Elde from the east. In its northern section both banks of the Elbe are characterised by flat, very fertile marshlands (Elbe Marshes), former flood plains of the Elbe now diked.
Soon the Elbe reaches Hamburg. Within the city-state the Elbe has a number of branch streams, such as Dove Elbe, Gose Elbe, Köhlbrand, Northern Elbe (Norderelbe), Reiherstieg, Southern Elbe (Süderelbe). Some of which have been disconnected for vessels from the main stream by dikes. In 1390 the Gose Elbe (literally in English: shallow Elbe) was separated from the main stream by a dike connecting the two then-islands of Kirchwerder and Neuengamme. The Dove Elbe (literally in English: deaf Elbe) was diked off in 1437/38 at Gammer Ort. These hydraulic engineering works were carried out to protect marshlands from inundation, and to improve the water supply of the Port of Hamburg. After the heavy inundation by the North Sea flood of 1962 the western section of the Southern Elbe was separated, becoming the Old Southern Elbe, while the waters of the eastern Southern Elbe now merge into the Köhlbrand, which is bridged by the Köhlbrandbrücke, the last bridge over the Elbe before the North Sea.
The Northern Elbe passes the Elbe Philharmonic Hall and is then crossed under by the old Elbe Tunnel (Alter Elbtunnel), both in Hamburg's city centre. A bit more downstream the Northern Elbe and the Köhlbrand reunite to form the Lower Elbe stream south of Altona-Altstadt, a locality of Hamburg. Right at its beginning the Lower Elbe is passed under by the New Elbe Tunnel (Neuer Elbtunnel), the last structural road link crossing the river before the North Sea. Leaving the city-state the Lower Elbe then passes between Holstein and the Elbe-Weser Triangle with Stade until it flows into the North Sea at Cuxhaven. Near its mouth it passes the entrance to the Kiel Canal at Brunsbüttel before it debouches into the North Sea.
Towns and cities on the Elbe 
|Brandýs nad Labem-Stará Boleslav||16,314|
|Ústí nad Labem||120,373|
The Elbe has been navigable by commercial vessels since 1842, and provides important trade links as far inland as Prague. The river is linked by canals (Elbe-Seitenkanal, Elbe-Havel Canal, Mittellandkanal) to the industrial areas of Germany and to Berlin. The Elbe-Lübeck Canal links the Elbe to the Baltic Sea, as does the Kiel Canal, whose western entrance is near the mouth of the Elbe. The Elbe-Weser Shipping Channel connects the Elbe with the Weser.
By the Treaty of Versailles the navigation on the Elbe became subject to the International Commission of the Elbe, seated in Dresden. The statute of the Commission was signed in Dresden on February 22, 1922. Following articles 363 and 364 of the Treaty of Versailles, Czechoslovakia was entitled to lease its own harbour bassin, Moldauhafen in Hamburg. The contract of lease with Germany, and supervised by the United Kingdom, was signed on February 14, 1929 and will end in 2028. Since 1993 the Czech Republic holds the former Czechoslovak legal position.
Before Germany was reunited, waterway transport in Western Germany was hindered by the fact that inland navigation to Hamburg had to pass through the German Democratic Republic. The Elbe-Seitenkanal (Elbe Lateral Canal) was built between the West German section of the Mittellandkanal and the Lower Elbe to restore this connection. When the two nations were reunited, works were begun to improve and restore the original links: the Magdeburg Water Bridge now allows large barges to cross the Elbe without having to enter the river. The often low water levels of the Elbe do not hinder navigation to Berlin any longer.
Outer Elbe (estuary) 
- Neuwerk – an exclave of Hamburg's borough of Mitte (centre)
- Nigehörn – an exclave Hamburg's borough of Mitte
- Scharhörn – an exclave Hamburg's borough of Mitte
Lower Elbe 
- Rhinplatte – west of Glückstadt
- Schwarztonnensand - east of Drochtersen
- Pagensand - west of Seestermühe
- Bishorst - west of Wedel
- Lühesand - east of Stade
- Hanskalbsand - south of Schulau
- Hahnöfersand - north of Jork
- Neßsand - south of Tinsdal
- Schweinesand - south of Blankenese (Hamburg)
Between Northern and Southern Elbe (Norderelbe/Süderelbe) 
- Finkenwerder – in Hamburg's borough of Mitte (centre)
- Kaltehofe (also "Kalte Hofe") – in Hamburg's borough of Mitte
- Wilhelmsburg, including the islands Veddel, Georgswerder, Kleiner Grasbrook, Steinwerder, Peute and several more – in Hamburg's borough of Mitte
Middle Elbe 
Upper reaches 
- Gauernitzer Elbinsel – east of Gauernitz in the Dresden Basin between Dresden and Meißen
- Pillnitzer Elbinsel – in Dresden's southern quarter of Pillnitz in the Dresden Basin
The Elbe is crossed by many ferries, both passenger and car carrying. In downstream order, these include:
- Dolní Žleb Ferry, at Dolní Žleb in the Děčín District
- Rathen Ferry, at Rathen
- Pillnitz Kleinzschachwitz Ferry, in the eastern suburbs of Dresden
- Laubegast Niederpoyritz Ferry, in Dresden
- Johannstadt Neustadt Ferry, in Dresden
- Belgern Ottersitz Ferry, between Belgern and Ottersitz
- Dommitzsch Prettin Ferry, between Dommitzsch and Prettin
- Mauken Pretzsch Ferry, between Mauken and Pretzsch
- Wartenburg Elster Ferry, between Wartenburg and Elster
- Wörlitz Coswig Ferry, between Wörlitz and Coswig
- Steutz Aken Ferry, between Steutz and Aken
- Tochheim Ferry, between Tochheim and Alt Tochheim near Breitenhagen
- Ronney Barby Ferry, between Barby and Walternienburg
- Westerhüsen Ferry, at Westerhüsen near Magdeburg
- Schartau Rogätz Ferry, between Schartau and Rogätz
- Ferchland Grieben Ferry, between Ferchland and Grieben
- Sandau Büttnershof Ferry, between Sandau and Büttnershof
- Räbel Havelberg Ferry, between Räbel and Havelberg
- Lenzen Pevestorf Ferry, between Lenzen and Pevestorf
- Darchau Ferry, between Darchau and Neu Darchau
- Bleckede Ferry, between Bleckede and Neu Bleckede
- Zollenspieker Ferry, between Kirchwerder and Winsen (Luhe) to the east of Hamburg
- Ferries in the port of Hamburg, operated by HADAG
- Wischhafen Glückstadt Ferry, between Wischhafen and Glückstadt to the west of Hamburg
First attested in Latin as Albis, the name Elbe means "river" or "river-bed" and is nothing more than the High German version of a word (albiz) found elsewhere in Germanic; cf. Old Norse river name Elfr, Swedish älv "river", Old English river name Ielf, and Middle Low German elve "river-bed".
The Elbe was recorded by Ptolemy as Albis (Germanic for "river") in Germania Magna with its source in the Asciburgis mountains (Krkonoše, Riesengebirge or Giant Mountains), where the Germanic Vandalii lived.
The Elbe has long been an important delineator of European geography. The Romans knew the river as the Albis; however, they only attempted once to move the Eastern border of their empire forward from the Rhine to the Elbe, and this attempt failed in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD, after which they never seriously tried again. In the Middle Ages it formed the eastern limit of the Empire of Charlemagne. The river's navigable sections were also essential to the success of the Hanseatic League and much trade was carried on its waters.
The Elbe delineated the western parts of Germany from the eastern so-called East Elbia, where soccage and serfdom were more strict and prevailed longer, than westwards of the river, and where feudal lords held bigger estates than in the west. Thus incumbents of huge land-holdings became characterised as East Elbian Junkers. The Northern German area north of the Lower Elbe used to be called North Albingia in the Middle Ages. When the four Lutheran church bodies there united in 1977 they chose the name North Elbian Evangelical Lutheran Church. Other, administrative units were named after the river Elbe, such as the Westphalian Elbe département (1807–1813) and the Lower Elbe département (1810), and the French département Bouches-de-l'Elbe (1811–1814).
In 1945, as World War II was drawing to a close, Nazi Germany was caught between the armies of the western Allies advancing from the west and the Soviet Union advancing from the east. On 25 April 1945, these two forces linked up near Torgau, on the Elbe. The event was marked as Elbe Day. After the war, the Elbe formed part of the border between East Germany and West Germany.
See also 
- 2002 European floods
- 2006 European floods
- Saxon Elbeland - the region of the Upper Elbe in Germany
- List of waterbodies in Saxony-Anhalt
- "Elbe River basin". International Commission for the Protection of the Elbe River. Retrieved 2009-02-04.
- The commission was staffed with two representatives of Czechoslovakia and one representative of Anhalt, Belgium, France, Hamburg, Italy, Prussia, Saxony, and the United Kingdom each, with Czecholosvakia and the German states being those, whose territory was crossed by the Elbe and thus competent for maintaining navigation installations. Cf. Der Große Brockhaus: Handbuch des Wissens in zwanzig Bänden: 21 vols., completely revised ed., Leipzig: F. A. Brockhaus, 151928-1935, vol. 5 (1930): Fünfter Band Doc–Ez, article: 'Elbe', pp. 400seqq., here p. 402. No ISBN.
- Text in League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. 26, 220-247.
- NoorderSoft Waterways Database
- "Google Maps". Google. Retrieved 2008-02-03.
- "Public transport operators co-operating in the HVV partnership". Retrieved 2009-03-26.
- Orel, Vladimir. A Handbook of Germanic Etymology. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2003: 13
- Hans Meissner, Magda Goebbels, First Lady of the Third Reich, 260–277
- Maxim Tkachenko (11 December 2009). "Official: KGB chief ordered Hitler's remains destroyed". CNN. Retrieved 11 December 2009.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Elbe|
- Ancient library Albis river in Germania Magna
- Source of Albis river in Asciburgis (Riesengebirge Giants mountains
- information and pictures of the spring of Labe in Giant Mountains (Krkonoše, Riesengebirge)
- Mühlanger , Wittenberg district in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. 9 km to Lutherstadt Wittenberg –Germany --click-on: Bildergalerie click-on..click-around
- Hamburg-Cruise-Center + Elbphilharmonie Hamburg- Elbe-Harbour-Web-Cams