About 100 kilometres west of Hamburg lies the almost three square kilometre small, inhabited island of Neuwerk in front of the mouth of the Elbe in the Wadden Sea part of the North Sea. Politically, the island belongs to the Hamburg district of Neuwerk.
The flag of Hamburg has flown there for over 700 years: Hamburg gained the right to establish a fortress on the island in the North Sea from the Dukes of Saxony in 1299 to protect shipping on the Elbe to Hamburg from sea pirates and wreckers. A powerful, square brick tower was completed for this purpose in 1310 - and took just ten years to build. The tower is not only Hamburg's oldest building, but also the oldest on the German coast. It was converted to a lighthouse in 1814. Today, Neuwerk is part of the Wadden Sea National Park along with the Scharhörn and Nigehörn islands.
In 1905, Neuwerk became a leisure area and seaside resort. Its 40 inhabitants live off farming and tourism and tourists appreciate the tranquillity, walks in the sea breeze and the expanse of sea and tidal flats. Five restaurants, an old grocery store, the public collection in the "Bernstein House" and the new "Neuwerk National Park House" are among the island's attractions. No other place in Hamburg is so close to the North Sea.