Wadden Sea World Heritage Aerial View, © Martin Elsen
© Martin Elsen

16 breath­tak­ing aer­i­al views of Nieder­sachsen (Lower Sax­ony)

A bird’s eye view of the largest state in northern Germany 

Photography has become an integral part of our everyday lives, not least because of social media. Whether we’re dining with friends or walking the dog, we take our smartphone everywhere. Even though modern technology lets us capture virtually every moment of our lives on camera, it hasn’t diminished the importance of photography as an art form. 

Quite the reverse – advances in technology have led to one of the most remarkable photographic techniques: aerial photography. 

Aerial and drone images give us a wonderful opportunity to see landscapes and architecture from a completely new perspective! Drones are particularly suitable for simple photos of buildings. For capturing the special features of a landscape, aeroplanes or helicopters are often required. 

Photographer Martin Elsen specialises in aerial photography and is known for his awe inspiring photos of Germany from above. 

We’ve put together some of his most beautiful aerial images of Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony) for you to enjoy. Get ready for some spectacular views of the North Sea coast line, the Altes Land region, the state capital Hanover and lots more! 

1. Arngast Light­house

The Arngast Lighthouse was built in 1910 in the Bay of Jadebusen (Jade Bay) on the southern part of the North Sea coast, and has been standing there defying the elements for more than a century. You can visit the Arngast Lighthouse by boat from Wilhelmshaven or Dangast at high tide, or by taking a guided walk across the mudflats at low tide. Seen from above and surrounded by ice and snow, this traditional red and white lighthouse really is a sight to behold!

2. Deich­brand Fest­iv­al

Festival vibes – these two aerial shots were taken at the Deichbrand Festival and show the colourful hustle and bustle of the campsite. This music festival at the Sea-Airport of Cuxhaven couldn’t go ahead this year, but these photos certainly build anticipation for next summer, wouldn’t you agree?  

3. The Wad­den Sea World Nat­ur­al Her­it­age Site in Cux­haven

The Wadden Sea of Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony): it’s definitely worth a visit and is a breathtaking sight viewed from any angle! In 2009, this natural landscape of Cuxhaven was officially declared a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site – and quite rightly so.

The tides of the North Sea have created a truly exceptional coastal landscape here.

Twice a day at low tide, the water recedes to reveal a unique world of animals and plants. The best way of exploring it is by walking across the mudflats. In the first photo, Martin Elsen gives us a striking view of what a walk across the mudflats looks like from above. The Wadden Sea landscape looks surreal, almost like a moonscape.

The second photo perfectly captures the reflection of the sun and clouds in the mudflats of Cuxhaven, and the endless landscape seems to merge with the horizon – what perfect timing!

4. Dor­um-Neufeld

This is a photo of the coastal town of Dorum-Neufeld. The little town on the Wurster Nordseeküste (Wurster North Sea coast) offers a wealth of variety for holidaymakers. In the photo, you can recognise the fishing harbour and the swimming pool, where tidal times don’t matter because you can enjoy the artificial waves any time you like! For a panoramic, near bird’s eye view of Dorum, we’d recommend a trip to the Obereversand Lighthouse. 

5. Em­den

The cars in the first photo, taken from way up above the Volkswagen site in Emden, seem to be strung together like pearl necklaces. Seen from this bird’s eye perspective, these hundreds of cars may not be perfectly aligned, but the overall symmetry still makes for an eye-catching picture. A truly superb photo!

The second photo shows the town harbour of Emden. This image may not have been taken from the same elevated heights as others in the series, but it’s no less impressive. Looking at the picturesque canals, it immediately becomes clear why Emden is also fondly known as the ‘Venice of the North’.

6. Greet­siel

Martin Elsen has captured the sluice of Greetsiel from high above East Frisia and the North Sea. What makes this shot so special is the combination of green, brown and blue tones, and the interaction between the industrial structure and nature. The charming little coastal town of Greetsiel is well worth a day trip in its own right. Its fishing harbour is more than 600 years old, and the town boasts numerous buildings dating back to the 17th century – it’s an excellent place to enjoy a long walk.

7. Roy­al Gar­dens of Her­ren­hausen in Han­over

Not only is the Grosser Garten the beating heart of the Royal Gardens of Herrenhausen in Hanover, it’s also one of the most remarkable Baroque gardens in the whole of Europe. Around 100 gardeners tend to the grounds every year. Martin Elsen’s aerial photos prove their efforts are worth it. You can see the attention to detail everywhere you look. Visitors to the Royal Gardens of Herrenhausen never cease to be amazed at all the Baroque ornaments, impressive fountains, magnificent sculptures and the many native and exotic plants on display here.

8. Herza­p­fel­hof Lühs Apple Farm in Jork

A little green slice of paradise? This aerial image captures the perfect symmetry of an apple orchard in the Altes Land region. And it’s not any old orchard; it’s arguably the biggest and best known organic fruit farm in Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony): Herzapfelhof Lühs in Jork

9. Hohe Weg Light­house off the coast of But­jadin­gen

This brilliant aerial shot captures the way the wind and ocean currents move the water in different directions. The 36-metre high lighthouse almost looks tiny compared with the huge expanse of turquoise water surrounding it. And yet the oldest lighthouse in Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony) has been helping seafarers find their way since 1856.

10. Langeoog

Here’s a fantastic view of the wild landscape of Langeoog. The salt marshes shown in the photo are a typical feature of this East Frisian island. Today, around two-thirds of the surface area of the ‘long island’ (‘Langeoog’ in East Frisian) are part of the Wadden Sea National Park, and the salt marshes alone provide a habitat for more than 2,300 different species of animals and plants.

11. The Oker­talsperre (Oker Dam) in the Harz moun­tains

Many people will instantly recognise the subject of this photo: the Oker Dam in the Harz mountains. The meandering Oker river is just as impressive as Martin Elsen’s aerial photo. The dam itself is a popular starting point for hikes, and you can also take a boat trip on the reservoir. 

12. Min­sen­er Oog

A natural beauty spot in the middle of the North Sea: the uninhabited island of Minsener Oog. Surrounded by deep blue water and numerous sandbanks, this unspoilt island is an important breeding site for seabirds. The only way to reach Minsener Oog is on foot across the mudflats from Schillig, although the emphasis here is on nature conservation, so access is prohibited except for a small area of the island.

13. The Oste river near Großen­wörden

In this beautiful landscape photo, the Oste river gently winds its way through lush green fields and meadows cloaked in morning mist. The tranquility of this morning scene is almost palpable. The Oste river landscape is a popular port of call for cycling and water sports enthusiasts. The banks of the river are dotted with little villages and historic wind and water mills – it’s such a pleasant place to pass the time.  

14. Nor­der­ney

Norderney from above: this photo captures the second largest East Frisian island in all its glory. The white of the clouds in the sky and the waves breaking on the shore contrast so beautifully with the deep blue sea water and the green landscape of this North Sea island. A truly superb photo!

15. The Elbe river near St­ade

This breathtaking photo shows container ships shrouded in dense mist on the Elbe river near Stade. With its beautifully restored Old Town and large selection of cosy cafes and bars, the Hanseatic City of Stade itself is a delightful place to visit.

16. The Wad­den Sea – a UN­ESCO World Nat­ur­al Her­it­age Site

At first glance, our last two pictures look almost like expressionist paintings – but they’re actually aerial views of the Wadden Sea. There’s no better place to experience the primal force of the tides and the untamed beauty of nature. The Wadden Sea is Germany’s most important natural environment, and as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site it’s on a par with the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Grand Canyon in the US.