2013-12-28

The Pearl of the North - Hamburg part I

I have visited the city a while ago. It was a spontaneous decision – a  quick look on the map and here we go. Hamburg.

My impression of the city –huge, buzzing, noisy and modern, yet there is no chance to get lost there (and trust me I am likely to get lost in my hometown sometimes) and besides modern architecture and atmosphere of a huge metropolis there are peaceful and historical places to see as well.

Hamburg is located in the north of Germany by the River Elbe and though it has no direct access to the Northern Sea it is one of the European greatest port cities and that is the reason for calling it ‘the Gateaway to the World’. First settlements in this region were built even before Christ. Hamburg and its harbour gained significance around 12th century. The city was thriving, commerce was the reason for citizen’s wealth and the city’s becoming the economic power.


Speicherstadt
In 13th century Hamburg and Luebeck formed a coalition establishing the Hanseatic League. It was an alliance between most prosperous trade cities that grew fast and already in 14th century became most powerful in the region. The League was able not only to defend its buisiness and hegemony on the Northern and Baltic Seas but even to lead a war against another country. It lost its significance in the 16th century and ceased to exist at the very beginning of the next one, yet the League has its meaning in history and surely in shaping today Hamburg. Nowadays, the harbour is one of the largest not only in Europe but in the world and the city itself is the second largest in Germany.

Warehouses seen from the back
On the former industrial area of over two square kilometers located directly by the water emerges the most modern part of Hamburg – HafenCity. It is also most stark in both architecture and atmosphere. Wide streets, glass office buildings. Yet not only offices, also residential areas as well as numerous facilities are being bulit in this district. The cold atmosphere of the place may be caused by the fact that it is still a construction site. The whole project is estimated to finish in 2025.


Directly next to HafenCity you will find Spicherstadt. It is a warehouse complex built in neo-Gothic style in the second half of 19th century. During the World War Two aroud half of the buildings were destroyed. It has been rebuilt and is still used today. Most of the buildings are still used as warehouses. In some of them there are i.a. Speicherstadt Museum or Miniatur Wunderland (about which I will write more in part II).

Stalls on Landungsbrücke
View from Landungsbrücke
Moving west you will leave HafenCity and Speicherstad and reach Landungsbrücke. These are in fact floating platforms also built at the beginning of the 19th century, originally for storing coal for steam ships. It was expanded a century later. Less than a kilometre long quay is the place where you can board a boat trip on the Elbe. We however settled for admiring the city from land and for stroll along the quay and numerous suvenir stalls.

Fish Market, further to the west, was the place we, unfortunately, didn’t reach as the weather was so awful that we were almost blown off our feet and wisely (though less bravely) decided to go back to hostel. It is a shame as I was very curious to stroll between stalls. Even my German techer (a German herself) recommended me to go there. As I have reserched, despite the name, it is a sort of flea market, you can buy there not only fresh fish but also any kind of things.


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