Heligoland is a small German archipelago in the North Sea, once ruled by both Denmark and the UK.
It is the only German island not in the immediate vicinity of the mainland, lying some 31 miles off the coast. Heligoland became part of Germany in the late 19th century. In a move to better control and protect its new Kiel Canal built in the 1890s, the Germans swapped Zanzibar for Heligoland with the British.
The locals, known as Frisians, are also native to other North Sea coastal areas in Germany and the Netherlands, and the modern Frisian dialect spoken on Heligoland is closely related to contemporary English.
Our walking tour covers the highlights of Heligoland and starts from the jetty in the main town, also called Heligoland, and past St. Nicholas' Church, whose patron saint appropriately protects the island´s sailors and merchants.
Close to the church, you pass by massive bomb craters created after World War II by British engineers who attempted to destroy the entire island in what became known as the "British Bang". Roughly 4,000 tons of surplus ammunition were placed in various locations around the island and set off. The blast is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest artificial non-nuclear single explosive detonation. The demolition attempt gives the island a moonlike appearance in places. While the intention was to completely destroy the island, a vast system of bunker tunnels still exists. We take you into some of these tunnels during our guided tour.
During WWII, Heligoland was built into a fortress with anti-aircraft positions and observation posts. The main island included a submarine bunker and a low-level civilian bunker for at least 2,000 people. These air raid shelters were carved deeply into the mountainside and bedrock and well ventilated. All of the tunnels and bunkers were connected with one another and your tour today takes you through a section of this intricate maze of passages.
The bunker tour is a must-see experience that takes you behind the scenes and walks you through a fascinating period of the island's history. Step though hidden doors and explore an aspect of Heligoland's underground that no other destination in Germany can claim.
Your participation also contributes to preserving these historically relevant underground structures for future generations.
After your guided walking tour, you have free time to shop "tax free" in the town´s small boutiques or you can just enjoy the ambiance of this friendly little island before returning to the ship.