Port of Kiel
Review and History

The Port of Kiel is capital and most populous city of the state of Schleswig-Holstein in northern Germany. Lying on an inlet of the Baltic Sea, the Kiel Fjord, it is at the eastern end of the Kiel Canal. About 90 kilometers north of Hamburg, the Port of Kiel is one of Germany’s most important maritime centers, indicated by the many sailing events held there including the sailing competitions of the Olympic Games in 1936 and 1972.

The Port of Kiel is also a long-time base for the German Navy and a high-tech ship-building hub. The Kiel Canal is the busiest manmade waterway in the world. Its economy is based on services, transportation, and the maritime industry. It is home to shipyard operating since 1838 that constructs submarines, including Germany’s first submarine in 1850. The city has one of Germany’s strongest and most productive economies. In 2005, over 234 thousand people lived in the urban area of the Port of Kiel.

Port History

A 10th Century settlement there was called Kyle, from the Anglo-Saxon kille (a safe place for ships), when Normans or Vikings established colonies along their raiding routes. Adopting the Laws of Lubeck, the city was founded in 1242. It entered the Hanseatic League in 1284 but was expelled in 1518 for sheltering pirates. In the 14th Century, the Port of Kiel was granted greater trading privileges. The University of Kiel was established there in 1665.

In 1773, Denmark ruled the Port of Kiel, passing to Prussian rule in 1866. King William I located Prussia’s Baltic Sea fleet in Kiel in 1865, making it an Imperial Harbor within the German Empire. Being Germany’s naval base, the city grew quickly. In 1864, almost 19 thousand people lived there. By 1910, the city’s population grew to about 200 thousand.

In 1918, it was the site of a mutiny of the German navy during the democratic revolution, and it was an Allied bombing target during World War II. Allied bombs destroyed as much as 80% of the old town, 72% of its residential neighborhoods, and over 80% of the industrial districts.

The locks of the Kiel Canal were opened in 1895, and the port has been busy ever since. It has a busy modern harbor and excellent yacht facilities. Ferries move people between its shores on the east and west sides of the Fjord and to local resorts and fishing villages. Industries within the Port of Kiel include manufacture of ship motors, electrical equipment, ship motors, precision instruments, and foodstuffs.

Much of the Port of Kiel was destroyed during World War II, but it has been rebuilt. Extensive green spaces were added in the re-building effort, and many important historic landmarks were restored. The oldest botanical gardens in Germany are located near the old university, and the Institute of Marine Biology in the Port of Kiel contains an aquarium.

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