The roots of Hamburg can be traced to Roman times – how could it be any different with German cities? The first permanent dwellings in today’s urban area date back to the fourth century BC, although Hamburg was still known as Treva then. The first indication of the city’s later name only surfaced following the building in the eight century of the castle known as the Hammaburg. The city only rose to greater significance in the twelfth century when the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I granted port rights and trade privileges to the Lower Elbe.
As one of the first members of the Hanseatic League, Hamburg developed into a flourishing trade center with 600 breweries at one time and became an imperial city in 1510. The city’s economic importance remained even after the decline of the Hanseatic League and it was able to further consolidate its dominant trading position. After the Congress of Vienna, Hamburg became part of the German Confederation and remained not only an important trade center. It can also be proud of a very special invention: In 1839, one of its citizens invented the Advent wreath, because he got fed up of his children constantly badgering him with the question “Is it Christmas yet?” Such innovative strength clearly rouses political ambitions: On the initiative of Bismarck, Hamburg became a member of the North German Confederation in 1867 and joined the newly formed German Reich as a member state in 1871.
In the Nazi era, Hamburg experienced significant land and population growth through the Greater Hamburg Act and from 1943 was the target of Operation Gomorrah, a series of air raids by the Royal Air Force. On May 3, 1945, the city surrendered without a fight to the English troops.
After World War II, Hamburg’s senator of the interior Helmut Schmidt, later chancellor, became known throughout Germany for his feisty intervention (and also illegal, according to the constitution at the time, since he had used German army units for internal affairs) during the North Sea flood of 1962 and earned respect as a crisis manager. In 2017, Hamburg achieved rather dubious prominence as a result of the G8 summit and the accompanying riots.
The city is regarded as cosmopolitan, which is directly linked to the port and, of course, St. Pauli’s red light district. Hamburg also has a great deal to offer in terms of culture: It is home to more than 60 theaters, over 100 music venues, around 60 museums, and about 280 music publishers. In addition, more than 10,000 self-employed artists work in the city. Hamburg is also Germany’s “musical capital” and is considered the third largest after New York and London. Besides musicals, Hamburg is also popular for trade fairs and is among the world’s leading conference locations with more than one million visitors annually. Incidentally, the weather that awaits the tourists and trade fair visitors is not as lousy as people think: With 133 days of rain, Hamburg has 40 fewer than Munich.
Apart from the numerous musicals, clubs, theaters, the Rutronik office, and St. Pauli’s houses of pleasure, we have put together a list of other places in Hamburg that are well worth checking out:
Hot spot: Miniatur Wunderland (https://www.miniatur-wunderland.de/)
Miniatur Wunderland is definitely worth a visit. It is one of the most impressive attractions in Hamburg and also home to the world’s biggest model railroad. Not for nothing is this exhibition highly popular. In addition to the model railroads, there are driving cars, moving cable cars, and even flying planes.
The attraction is very big, however, and you should plan sufficient time to take it all in. There are often also large crowds, so it is advisable to book tickets online in advance in order to avoid long waiting times.
Hot spot: Hamburg Dungeon (https://www.thedungeons.com/hamburg/de/)
The Hamburg Dungeon is right next to Miniatur Wunderland and brings the Hamburg’s story to life for the visitor – complete with all of the city’s disasters. It is a mixture of chamber of horrors, show, and rides. An absolute must for horror fans.
Hot spot: Dialogue in the Dark (https://dialog-in-hamburg.de/)
This exhibition makes it possible to swap roles. Visitors are led around the completely dark rooms of the experiential exhibition by blind guides. Busy streets, a bar, and other situations are recreated and visitors learn how to “see” their surroundings with their other senses.
Restaurant: Daniel Wischer Fish Restaurant (http://www.danielwischer.de/de/fischrestaurant-hamburg-am-rathaus/)
Fish is simply part of Hamburg, which is why there are numerous fish markets and fish restaurants. The Daniel Wischer fish restaurant by the town hall is highly recommended. There is something for every fish fan here, whether in a roll, in a bag, or on a plate.
Restaurant: Schwerelos Hamburg (www.rollercoaster-hamburg.de)
Spectacular: “Schwerelos” is built like a roller coaster; the food and drink is brought to the table via rails. In addition to the cuisine, which caters to every taste, guests can also hold themed parties here, enjoy a candlelit dinner with a difference, and much more besides.
Bar: Le Lion ( http://www.lelion.net/ )
French flair, sophisticated drinking culture: Le Lion is the only German establishment to have made it onto the list of the world’s 50 best bars, compiled by the magazine Drinks International. It’s all about a stylish experience here – with brocade on the walls, heavy rugs, and drinking straws made from real straw, the ambience is reminiscent of Paris in the 1920s.
Bar: East Hamburg (https://www.east-hamburg.de/bar/ )
Breathtaking design embedded within the walls of an old iron foundry awaits guests at east Bar and Lounge. Curious patrons can let the bar manager advise them on the right choice of gin and accompanying tonic. In total, there are more than 250 cocktails available – enough for one or two lively evenings.
Hotel: Hotel Alsterblick (http://www.hotel-alsterblick.de/ )
The Hotel Alsterblick was built in 1891 and is located right by the Outer Alster Lake. The view from the 35 rooms is fittingly breathtaking. With a historical lift and reproduction leaded lights based on authentic original designs, the hotel itself is worth checking out – after all, it is reportedly home to “Hamburg’s most beautiful staircase”.