I love the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. Really, I do. And I can say this now, having actually seen the city proper, finally.
Back in 2005 I spent a week in Hamburg, and I realise now that I saw virtually nothing of the city in that time, having come away with the impression that it was very much an industrial City, built purely around it's docks.
While the second half of that statement may be true, this is so much more than just an Industrial Port.
It's Germany's second largest City (by population), and is actually a City-State, retaining a level of independance from the Central German Government.
Dating back to the 9th Century AD, the history of Hamburg is rich and varied. Originally formed as a Mission Settlement, it quickly became an important trade center and one of the founder-members of the powerful Hanseatic League in 1241, and has since flourished as Germany's main port City.
World War II bought wrack and ruin to the city, particularly in the summer of 1943, when Operation Gomorrah blitzed the city center and suburbs over a period of 8 nights.
Tens of thousands died, and much of the city was destroyed.
In credit to German perserverance, the port was almost fully functional again only 12 years later, and since then the city has been lovingly restored. As a result, the city center and warehouse districts, while maintaining a facade of medieval architecture and design, are actually less than a century old!
Here are some other interesting facts about Hamburg:
- Hamburg has more bridges than any other city on the World, with up to 2500 bridges crossing the many canals in the city.
- Most of the city was rebuilt after the Allied bombing raids in 1943, which destroyed a significant percentage of the city and killed more than 42,000 inhabitants.
- It is home to the third-busiest port in Europe, behind only Rotterdam & Antwerp.
- Famous people from Hamburg include Angela Merkel, Felix Mendelssohn, and Johannes Brahms.
- Citizens of Hamburg are called "hamburgers". They are not edible.
- Hamburg's Lake Alster is home to over 100 swans. A government gamekeeper called the Schwanenvater, the "the Swan father," looks after them. This position has existed since the 17th century and is one of the oldest continuous government posts in the world.
My most recent visit saw me spend 4 nights in Hamburg - I covered about 60km on foot over the few days I had, with my Uncle Chris making sure I got to see all the best sights. I have included these as best I can in the Attractions section below.
That said, I do realise there are plenty of sights I just didn't have time to see, including the Planetarium and the Botanical Gardens... Any excuse to go back again, I guess!
Date of last visit: December 2022
Please add a Comment! If you've travelled to Hamburg and want to share your experiences, or want to ask a question, here's your opportunity!
Please log in to add comments.