Islands Without Cars

Germany's Heligoland Island

Season 2, Episode 5 of 6

Located between 30 and 40 miles off the North German coast, and about 100 miles north-west of Hamburg, Heligoland (Helgoland in German) is a rocky island in the North Sea and Germany's only non-coastal island. It features vertical cliffs dropping nearly 200 feet into the waters below and is the only such formation in the North Sea. Possession of the island changed hands several times between Germany, Denmark and Great Britain. And many of the possessions of the possessors ended up bombed into the ocean in 1947 as Great Britain used the former enemy territory for target practice in what was the largest non-nuclear explosion in history. But the islanders returned and rebuilt this unique place, even making unique jewelry out of the fragments of its past that wash up on its shores daily. Except for two taxis and a police car, automobiles are verboten. But access to the "upper land" (from the port or "lower land") is made comfortable by an elevator cut into the rock. Or there are between 184 and 260 steps on three different stairways connecting the lower port with the upper grazing parts of the island.

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