Ten reasons to love Hamburg
In Hamburg "Große Freiheit" - or great freedom - is more than merely the name of a road. It is a unique approach to life. A city with maritime flair and plenty of opportunities to go out.
Everything in sight
Hamburg is redefining itself with its HafenCity, Europe's biggest urban regeneration project. When fully developed in 2025, it is to be home to 10,000 people. From the ViewPoint in the Baakenhafen, you can observe the development in a 360-degree panorama. The design of the orange steel tower was inspired by the dock cranes and was conceived to offer the panoramic view of a nautical periscope.
Music at its best
Hamburg has a new landmark. Like the gigantic bow of a ship, the Elbe Philharmonic Hall sails into the skyline. Built on top of a former red brick warehouse for cocoa, the glass construction rises 110 meters (360 feet) into the sky. The concert house opened in January 2017.
Going with the flow
Boats sail night and day on the Elbe River to the harbor. Their fog horns and the sound of the seagulls create the soundtrack to any early morning run on the pale sand of the shore. The port of Hamburg is 70 nautical miles away from the open sea. Plans to widen the river are to be implemented in order to better serve the massive new cruise ships.
In Hamburg, the messengers of spring are the city's very own swans - hundreds of them. Overseeing their return after the winter is the city council's swan office called Schwanenwesen — the only authority in the world that employs a "swan father." By taking ownership of the white birds, normally an exclusive privilege of royals, Hamburg proved its independence as a free Hanseatic city.
A lot of storage room
In 1888, German Emperor Wilhelm II opened the "Speicherstadt" (the city of warehouses). Hamburg had already established itself as a free port, where storage and transfer of goods was duty free. As a result, it became one of the biggest storage districts in the world. The Speicherstadt, with its abiding aroma of tea, coffee and spices, was granted World Heritage status by UNESCO in 2015.
The Old Elbe Tunnel was the first river tunnel in continental Europe. It reduces travel time from the city to the shipyards on the southern shores of the river. Since 1911, lifts have taken pedestrians, cars and cyclists down to the bottom, where two 426-meter-long (1,398-foot) tunnels run under the Elbe. For pedestrians and cyclists, it costs nothing to use it — other than overcoming their fear.
The people of Hamburg no longer count how many bridges there are, but statistics say 2,500 — more than Venice, Amsterdam or London. After a fire in 1842, many wooden bridges needed replacing. Bridges made of steel and cast iron were added as the harbor grew. They cross the Elbe and Alster and their tributaries, as well as the loading canals, known locally as "Fleet" in the warehouse district.
These days, office blocks do the dancing on the Reeperbahn - adding a kink to the façade of two office towers. The architect designed them as a couple dancing tango, a tribute to the red light district where they are located. There is a restaurant and a bar on the top floor and the roof terrace offers a fabulous view of the harbor, especially at night.
Sailors have spent entire wages in just one night in the Große Freiheit, a side street to the famous Reeperbahn. The St. Pauli district is filled with bars, clubs and a variety of fun and games. Artists and musicians discovered the charm of the seedy area in the 1960s. For the Beatles, playing at the legendary Star-Club became a warm-up exercise for their subsequent global success.
Come back soon
There is so much to do and see in Hamburg that it is hard to fit it all into one visit. Museums and galleries, churches, concerts, musicals and theater performances: the choice is overwhelming. You can shop or relax by the Alster lake. The harbor and its famous fish market every Sunday is a must. Hamburg is always ready to welcome you back with its traditional greeting: "Moin, Moin!"