Hamburg Travel Information

Mother Earth Travel > Germany > Hamburg > History

The city of Hamburg lies in Germany´s High North. It is a much-loved place and many have written about this "Gate to the world". Wolfgang Borchert, who was born here, once stated: "Oh Hamburg! It´s more than a heap of stones, roofs, windows, beds, streets, bridges and streetlights! It´s more than factory chimneys and cars blowing their horns - more than the screeching of seagulls, noise from the streetcars and the thundering of the railway - it´s more than ships sirens, cranes than creak, curses and dancing music - oh, it is so much more!" Even Heinrich Heine, famous for mocking the city, voiced some praise and returned to the city, just as most visitors do. Hamburg just has an air about it - on the one-hand, it´s the epitome of a metropolis and on the other hand, it has a cosiness and elegance about it. It is idyllic, mundane, hectic and cosy all at the same time, but never boring.

Hamburg´s city centre, which lies between the Binnenalster, Alster and the Elbe, sets the pace for the rest of the city - economically, politically and socially. The magnificent boulevards lined with shops and the smaller shopping areas are nothing short of unique. Who would think that virtually all of this area was in ruins after the allied bombing campaigns of the Second World War. Those in search of culture need look no further: The Kunsthalle, the opera and the two main theatres (the Thalia Theater and the Deutsches Schauspielhaus are here, as are the stock exchange and the city's extravagant town hall. The old town is also incorporated into this area, as the ruin of the Hammaburg, built in the 9th century reminds us. Also worth exploring are St. Michealis, St. Katharien, St. Jacobi and St. Petri which are the Christian communities main places of worship and the ruin of St. Nikolai.

The historic Kontorhäuser that lie between Steinstraße and Meßberg are architectural rarities. Indeed, the Kontorhaus Quarter can be described as a different world: The relatively narrow streets around the Burchhard-Platz are lined with massive brick-fronted buildings (Chilehaus, Sprinkenhof). Despite their size, these impressive buildings are not unfriendly, only proud, solid and extremely dignified. Built from North German red brick, they stand in ordered rows, their windows all in line with one another, giving this district its distinctive feel.

On the Außenalster´s western shore, lie the upmarket Pöseldorf/Harvestude. This quarter, which is dominated by rows of spacious houses and neo-classical mansions, is a favourite with wealthy young people. Everything is chic and smart/trendy, which contributes to this areas renown as a somewhat posh part of town. Some people even go so far as to call it Schnöseldorf (Snot´s village). The Harvestuder Weg, where many consulates and top companies´ administrative buildings are situated, is no doubt one of the city´s most sought-after addresses. The Alteruferweg is perfect for a stroll throughout the year.

The university quarter lies to the west of the Rothenbaumchausee. As is to be expected this is a hip young part of town where there is always something going on. The majority of people that hang out in one of the many bars, cafes and clubs here are either students or media types. The main building of the university which was founded in 1919, can be found in the Edmund-Siemers-Allee. If you venture westwards, you get to the Grindelhochhäuser (Grindel tower blocks), built 1924-1928.

Eppendorf is a favourite residential area. The streets are lined with elegant town houses dating from the turn of the century and small rivers flow through the district. If you are in Eppendorf, be sure to visit the curious Isemarkt, which can be found under the train viaduct on the Isestraße. Literary fans should also visit the Eppendorfer Marketplace where there is a memorial to the Hamburg-born writer Wolfgang Borchert. Inscribed with the words of his poem "Say No!", the memorial reflects his deeply held anti-war beliefs.

Altona was an autonomous Danish City until it was incorporated into Hamburg as part of the Greater Hamburg Decree under the Nazis. It is the city´s most heavily populated area and is multi-cultural and original in character. Traditionally, it was a working-class area with Kontorhäusern and picturesque factory halls. Architecture junkies will love it here, there is so much on offer. The Palmaille and the villas of the Elbchausse are excellent examples of classical architecture and the Altoner Town Hall is built in the typical style of the Wilhelmine Era.

The Elbchausee, which is ten kilometres long, leads the way from Altona to Blankenese, which is a beautiful but expensive district. The splendid villas, some of them built very near the Elbe, reflect the city´s prosperity. Blankenese is famous for its little white fishing huts, historic country residences, parks, gardens and of course its narrow stairways and winding paths. White houses from the 18th and 19th centuries, which have little terraces, border these paths. The ships cruising by and the splendid views of the Elbe make this a favourite haunt for locals and visitors alike.

You would be forgiven for thinking that time had passed the Schanzenviertel and the Karolinenviertel by. These two districts are multicultural and you may well find the most interesting mix of characters anywhere on earth here. The many watering-holes, tea-rooms and exotic shops make this a perfect place to visit night or day. Be warned though: The fact that these areas have become increasingly trendy means that their original character is struggling to survive.

The St. Pauli quarter is Hamburg's world-famous entertainment quarter. Often used for TV shoots, it is a vibrant place and the 30,000 people that reside here are an eclectic mix. The Reeperbahn runs through the Kiez, which is the nightlife and red-light part of town. It is all happening here. There are clubs, sex shops, fast-food joints and bars as far as the eye can see. Be sure to explore the side streets as well, who knows what you will find. At the eastern end of the Reeperbahn is the Heiligengeistfeld where the Hamburger Dom (Hamburg Fair) takes place every year. St. Pauli stretches from the Wallanlagen (today called Planten un Blomen) to the Hafenstraße and the Landungsbrücken.

The harbour is the heart of the city. Visit it and you will soon find out why people started calling Hamburg the Gateway to the World. It is one of the world´s largest harbours and its 75 square kilometres take up one-tenth of the city´s space. Especially worth seeing are the Köhlbrandtbrücke, the Landungsbrücke, the Old Elbtunnel and the Speicherstadt, whose warehouses contain goods worth millions. In the 90s, building begun on Harbour-City, which once completed, will be a modern living and business quarter on the Kehrwiederspitze.

Christian Helge Röfer

Weather

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg. High 36° 38° 45° 53° 62° 68° 70° 70° 64° 55° 45° 39°
Avg. Low 28° 28° 32° 37° 45° 50° 54° 53° 48° 43° 36° 30°
Mean 33° 34° 39° 45° 54° 60° 62° 62° 56° 50° 41° 35°
Avg. Precip. 2.4 in 1.6 in 2.2 in 2.0 in 2.2 in 2.9 in 3.2 in 2.8 in 2.8 in 2.5 in 2.8 in 2.8 in

Fahrenheit temperature scale is used.