Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany and has the second largest port in Europe. The river Elbe is king and master of the city and over it there are more than 2500 bridges! Yes, you read that right, 2500 bridges! The city is very old and has been destroyed and rebuilt several times. Walking through the streets it is easy to observe the contrast between the old and the modern. It is common to walk down an avenue of shopping centres and luxury shops and find a 12th century church. On my first trip to Germany, whose main destination was Bremen, I took a hop to Hamburg. In this post, I will tell you about my experience of a day around the city, wandering the streets without an itinerary and without rushing.
Read also: Bremen: Places to Visit
I arrived in Hamburg by train and came across the living wheel of the central station. The Hauptbahnhof is a characteristic site of the city with its iconic Philips neon advertisement. The station is a full-on shopping mall with shops, restaurants and cafes.
Leaving the station, I walked down the city’s best known and busiest pedestrian street, Mönckebergstrasse. If you are in the mood to buy clothes, shoes, bags or jewellery you are in the right street because here you will find several luxury brands.
Hauptkirche St. Petri
Very close to the Mönckebergstrasse, I found the Hauptkirche St. Petri dating from the 12th century. St. Peter’s church is the oldest church in the city and, like Hamburg, it has been destroyed and built several times. This church has the highest point in the city. You can climb the 544 steps that take you to the top of the tower and admire the view of the city.
Walking to the city centre, I found Hamburg’s most impressive building, the monumental Rathaus. This neo-Renaissance style building is the fifth in the city, as the previous ones were destroyed by wars and the great fire of 1804 that destroyed a good part of the city. I chose not to visit the inside of the Rathaus, but if you have time they say it’s worth visiting for the beauty of its interior halls.
The whole space surrounding the Rathaus is beautiful and appeals to romanticism, a picture that makes this my favourite place in the city. From the artificial Binnenalster lake to the neoclassical arcades, it’s a place to spend a good time. I took the opportunity to catch some rays of sun by the lake, but as a suggestion I leave a boat trip around the lake and the canals of the Alster River.
Port of Hamburg
Finished enjoying the sun in the artificial lake Binnenaster, I headed towards Hamburg’s Port. On the way I stopped at Rheinscher Hafen for lunch. I chose the typical sausage and chips and I highly recommend it!
On the way I passed by some of the many bridges in the city, all different and with their own particularities. The whole city is full of buildings that made me stop to observe and even to photograph.
Located on the Elbe River, Hamburg’s port is called the “Gateway to the World” due to the strong movement of goods transiting to all of Europe. It was also due to the port that the city developed and became what it is today.
Nowadays, it is on the banks of the port that the inhabitants of the city meet to stroll, drink a beer, sunbathe or even listen to the many street artists that are around.
Near the port, I found Hafen City which is under construction! This port district is Hamburg’s newest neighbourhood and started to be revitalised in the 2000s and is scheduled to be completed by 2025. The idea is to transform the old and run-down into something new and modern, which brings together sustainability and innovation. This neighbourhood is home to the Elbphilharmonie, the famous building of the Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra. A building on the Elbe River with an impressive glass facade.
On the shores of Hafen City and on the way back to the station I passed the Speicherstadt, the largest warehouse quarter in the world. This quarter is, since 2015, a UNESCO heritage site and was built in the 19th century. Still active, its warehouses with red brick and copper roofs symbolise the growth of international trade in the city. The whole neighbourhood is an attraction, not only for the warehouses, but also for its fifteen museums, including the largest miniature museum in the world, Miniatur Wunderland and the International Maritime Museum closely linked to the city.
Arriving at the central station, I finished the day around the city of Hamburg. A sunny day enjoyed by the artificial lake, many miles walking around the city, many clicks to buildings and the bridges, good food and beer and relaxing moments on the steps of Hamburg harbour. I was left with a small image of the city, being sure that there is much to explore in this cosmopolitan and modern city.A city that is a true museum in itself!
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