Heligoland Tourist Attractions
Situation and characteristicsThe island of Heligoland (Helgoland in German) lies in the Deutsche Bucht (Heligoland Bay) some 70km/45mi from the Elbe estuary and 50km/30mi west of the Eiderstedt peninsula. It is a rocky island of red sandstone with fringes of white dunes and a rich vegetation cover.Heligoland is now a popular holiday resort, attracting visitors with its mild climate, pure sea air and modern spa installations, as well as its duty-free facilities.The local fishermen enjoy the long-established privilege of bringing visitors ashore; incoming vessels must therefore discharge their passengers into the fishermen's boats.AccessThere are daily boat services from Cuxhaven, and during the season also from Wilhelmshaven and Bremerhaven and many mainland seaside resorts. The crossing from Bremerhaven takes three hours; a day trip allows about six hours on the island.There are flights from Hamburg to Heligoland; in summer several times daily. The flight takes between 40minutes and an hour.Customs regulationsSince Heligoland is a customs-free area it attracts many visitors with the prospect of buying spirits, tobacco goods, sweets, cameras, textiles, cosmetics, perfume, etc., at bargain prices. It should be borne in mind, however, that visitors who exceed the permitted allowances of duty-free goods (which are less generous than the allowances for persons traveling between European Community countries) will be charged duty when returning to the mainland. For details see a leaflet which can be obtained from the customs authorities.HistoryHeligoland has belonged to Germany since 1890, when it was exchanged by Britain for the protectorate of Zanzibar. It was then developed as a naval base, and was of strategic importance during the Second World War. In April 1945 it suffered heavy damage in Allied air attacks. After the war the remaining inhabitants were evacuated, and in 1947 the fortifications were blown up. Thereafter it was used by the RAF as a bombing target. After its restoration to Germany in 1952 the reconstruction of the shattered island began.The IslandHeligoland consists of three parts - Unterland, Mittelland and Oberland - together with the little neighboring island of Düne.
Unterland, on the southeast side of Heligoland, has been completely redeveloped since 1952, with the Kurhaus, the Town Hall (1961) and numerous hotels and guesthouses. To the north are the Biological Research Station, with a sea water aquarium, and the spa installations, with a heated open-air sea water swimming pool.
Southwest of Unterland on Heligoland is the rather higher Mittelland, formed when the fortifications were blown up in 1947. To the south is the artificially constructed harbor (trips round the island from the landing-stage).
Oberland, linked with Unterland on Heligoland by a lift and a flight of 181 steps, is a triangle of rock some 1,500 m/1,650yd long and up to 500 m/550yd across, largely flat and grass-covered, rising to a height of 58 m/190ft above the sea. On the east side lies the village (rebuilt), with St Nicholas's Church (1959; tower 33 m/108ft high) and the bird-watching station. The former anti-aircraft tower to the west of the village is now a lighthouse. At the northern tip of the island are an isolated stack known as the Hengst (Stallion) or "Lange Anna" ("Big Anna") and the Lummenfelsen (Guillemots' Rock), the highest point on the island.There is an attractive walk round the island on the cliff-top path.
About 1.5km/1mi east of Unterland on Heligoland, separated from it by an arm of the sea some 10 m/35ft deep (ferry), is the little island of Düne. There is good bathing on the beaches on the north and south sides of the island (Nordstrand, Südstrand), with a camping site and an area for nude bathing (FKK). At the east end is the airstrip used by the local air service.
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