December 4, 2011

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Photos of Hamburg, Germany

Part of my 2011 European travel adventures

Hamburg is Germany's second largest city and commonly referred to by Germans as the Window to the world. It was my first time in this big northern gem and I was truly impressed. I spend there 3 days, but only had one cold November Sunday to explore the city. Sundays in Germany are not like in Taiwan, where people flood the streets of the cities, quite to the contrary: When I went sightseeing, most Germans were taking a rest and staying inside. I've only seen few tourists taking photos around the historic sights. A little bit more crowded was the area near the river Elbe with the view on the harbor, which is very inviting for a Sunday walk. A walk you're about to go on with me.

The Hamburg Airport is one of the nicest airports I've ever seen.

1. My impression of Hamburg

Unfortunately my time and the means to explore the broader Hamburg were very limited during my trip, because I wasn't in Germany on pleasure, but business. Therefore I the photos below were taken on a few hours long walk around the central Hamburg, which is huge by the way. I don't think I can tell you how Hamburg really is, but I have a general idea. What I liked is the laid back atmosphere, the clean and very well maintained streets and buildings and the amazing mix of old and new architecture. There's definitely a lot going on in this city, some parts are experiencing a construction boom, while others look like they were recently refurbished. Typical for Hamburg are red-bricked houses, churches with very sharp and tall towers, canals winding their way through the old city and even a lake incorporated in the urban area. There are so many things you need to see, if you come to Hamburg, so I can't really tell you what is a must-see location, but these are the places I really enjoyed: The City hall square and the "Rathaus", Jungfernstieg and the Binnenalster (especially in the evening), the area around the "Michel" church, the Saint Nikolai Memorial, the HafenCity and St. Pauli with the "Hamburger Dom" theme park and the Reeperbahn. I've actually seen so many other interesting parts of the city center, that I could make a much longer list. But let my photos speak for themselves.

I stayed in Holiday Inn Express in Wartenau. Great location, service and price.

2. My photos of Hamburg

Below are some of the photos I've taken during my trip. Hamburg was very foggy in the morning, but in the late afternoon the sky slowly cleared up and although it was around zero degrees Celsius, it was a pleasant day to walk, with a clear blue sky and fresh air.

Wartenau, the area near my hotel. A subway station was nearby, very convenient.

Hamburg's subway trains: Not the newest and biggest, but clean, fast and convenient.

Hamburg's subway is called U-Bahn (Untergrundbahn) and covers the most important parts of the city. What was confusing for me at first was the system of various tariffs depending on the area of Hamburg marked with circles (A, B, C, D). A single fare ticket costs 1.8 Eur, you can take the S-Bahn (Schnellbahn) from Airport to the city center and also switch to the U-Bahn, if you want. For my Sunday adventure I've bought a daily ticket for about 5 Euros, which enabled me to take unlimited rides within the day, something I also recommend to you (and no worries about the various tariffs).

The U-Bahn stations are mostly empty, especially in the outskirts.

I exited at Jungfernstieg, the promenade near the Binnenalster lake.

Binnenalster, smaller part of the Alstersee, a lake inside Hamburg.

Here my walking tour has begun: A fancy street loaded with branded goods.

A view towards the City hall square.

An accordion player.

View on the Rathaus, Hamburg's City hall building.

The Old post.

Hamburg's impressive City hall building, the Hamburger Rathaus.

A closeup.

The Rathaus in its full glory.

The St. Petri church with its incredibly sharp tower.

The ruins of Saint Nicholas, a memorial today.

The church was destroyed during World War II.

This is how I saw the church that day. It's truly impressive.

Modern and old side by side is very typical for Hamburg.

St. Catherine's Church, renovated in recent years, has a very remarkable spire.

Entering HafenCity, Hamburg's new district and biggest city-planning project.

This is Speicherstadt with its red-brick houses and canals, from 19th century.

Majestic houses in Speicherstadt, Hamburg warehouse district.

Another view.

A chimney in HafenCity.

Modern buildings dominate this part.

This one is one of my favorites.

The huge port of Hamburg, second largest in Europe.

Finest modern architecture.

Another masterpiece.

This part is called Sandtorhafen.

Impressive cranes dominate the skyline above Hamburg's harbor.

One of the future landmarks of Hamburg: Elbphilharmonie, still under construction.

A view on Speicherstadt, its Western side.

The Michel, one of Hamburg's landmarks.

Michel or St. Michaelis Church was build in 1669. The tower is 132m tall.

A truly impressive church.

A view from another side.

The reflection of the Michel in a modern building nearby.

Beautiful buildings in thea area, that caught my attention.

Hanseatic High Court or Hanseatische Oberlandesgericht.

Hamburg's 279m tall landmark tower Heinrich-Hertz-Turm.

This was a brief overview of Hamburg during the day. It was a nice walk for me, but not as exciting as the mini tour I made in the evening, when I headed to St. Pauli, Hamburg's famous district.

3. Hamburg at night

After my long afternoon tour of the city center, I headed back to the hotel and took a short rest. When the night fell over the city, I decided to go to the Hamburger Dom theme park and Reeperbahn, Hamburg's famous red light district, where the Beatles rocked the place in the early 1960s before they became big.

Hamburger Dom has a long tradition of amusement. I was lucky to visit the Winterdom.

A big Ferris wheel dominated the sky.

This was much bigger than any Taiwanese night market I've been.

I tried some delicious German sausages in one of these restaurants.

That's a carousel that's not suitable for the fainthearted.

Amusement monster.

After strolling around the Dom for about an hour, I decided to visit Reeperbahn nearby.

Reeperbahn is Hamburg's red light district stretched along a long road.

Brothels are explicitly advertised, sometimes people outside try to lure customers in.

A lot of sex shops and obscure bars are in the area. I did not go into any.

4. Hamburg in conclusion

Hamburg is a huge city full of history and interesting parts. It would need me at least a week or more to truly get the most parts covered. But I'm happy, that I had the chance to see the center. Once I understood the way public transportation works, getting around was not too hard. Walking is a must, if you want to go deeper. The city felt safe, even the Reeperbahn was not as scary as I've thought. To sum it up: Hamburg is so far my favorite German city (I need to see Cologne, Berlin, Stuttgart, though) and I'm sure it'll always remain one of my favorites. Definitely a must-see destination, if you plan a trip to Germany.

[My EUROPE TRAVEL page][HAMBURG MAP][All photos by MKL, 2011]


  1. Most people who've seen Berlin, Cologne or other German places will still think Hamburg's the best, that's what I read somewhere: it is the most popular German city.
    I prefer Berlin, though I liked Hamburg, too (yay for Reeperbahn -))

  2. Bayern ain't bad either! Passau, Regensburg, Augsburg ... almost kitchy! :)

  3. Are the mighty hamburgers from here? ;P

    It is a veritable cornucopia of historical relics, and it is wonderful to be visiting. Being a resident there would make these breathtakers all too common to be extraordinary.

  4. I used to live in Hamburg for about five years, and I have a lot of fond memories for the place.

    While it is not a metropolis (in Germany, only Berlin might qualify), it breathes big-city air and a distinct cosmopolitan spirit, no doubt helped by it being a port city. Hamburg's citizens take a lot of pride in the fact that they have always been a "free city", i.e. they ruled themselves and were not part of any kingdom. To the day, they form their own Bundesland (German state).

    Hamburg is nowhere near as squeaky clean as Munich. It has a rough edge to it. Huge parts of the city were burned to the ground in WWII, and what has been built after the war does not always qualify as beautiful.

    But in the parts that have withstood the fire storm, there is no end of jaw-droppingly beautiful Gründerzeit and art nouveau architecture.

    Hamburg is Germany's richest city if you count the millionaires, but (again, unlike Munich's Schickimicki jetset) they do not boast their wealth. That is known as "Hanseatic Understatement".

    In the same vein, young and wannabe young people in Hamburg (which can stretch well into the fourties) have developed a unique style of "urban chique". Think hooded sweaters and a slightly unshaven appearence for guys, Scandinavian wool-caps and duffle coats for girls. Even if they have well-paid jobs in the media sector and can afford Altbau apartments in recently gentrified districts, they like to appear like third semester students who can barely make ends meet.

    To sum it up, Hamburg is a good place to live and to visit. And while hardly representative of Germany as a whole, you do not really know Germany if you skip on Hamburg during your trip.

    Oh, and you should definitely read this post on Hamburg (but not take it too seriously):

  5. Thanks for taking us along! I am not impressed by the new architecture but I like the Rathaus or the buildings on Speicherstadt. I also like your night photos. I haven't been in this part of Germany but I may say that little towns in the Eastern part are great. I loved Dresden for example, and Erfurt or Meissen aren't bad either.

  6. Wow great write up of Germany, love all the pixz they are so nice. Prefer the old building than those modern ones, call me 'old horse' haha. tQ for the virtual tour fantastic post.

  7. Yes, Hamburg is a good place, but it needs no definite article - it isn't the Hamburg!
    The Reeperbahn used to be popular in movies and books in the past, and probably still was when the Beatles were around - but by now, most of it is pretty sad and run-down. Or, as Udo Lindenberg stated in 1978:

    "Reeperbahn, wenn ich dich heute so anseh' /
    Kulisse für 'nen Film der nicht mehr läuft -
    ich sag dir, das tut weh."

    Btw, the Bremen Rathaus is much older than Hamburg's - it's part of the UNESCO world heritage.

  8. @Everybody: Thank you very much! You added a lot of value to my post. Thumbs up!

    Special thanks to Klaus.

  9. Thank you very much for your blog.

    It brought back many memories to me. I am from UK and met a German from Hamburg. We both lived there from 1990 until around 2001. Unlike you, within your short visit, I got to see and live in many places on the outskirts of the main city, as well as to meet many German people, including my boyfriends wide family. I slowly learnt the language but not that fluent. I could not get the hang of the grammar so I was coming before I was going – if you know what I mean.

    I found the whole experience very interesting, even though at the time I was so homesick for my beloved home town in England and family. I took a good few photographs but mostly video, which I still have. I even wrote a humorous account (book), comparing the German culture to my own in Britain, of which I have not yet bothered to publish. My account is humorous but at the end of it all, I rated the Germans for having the best quality of life over UK and probably most other places as well.

    Sadly, that German boyfriend I had been with for thirty years, died young back in 2009 with cancer. I miss him so. It took me many years before I could look at the old photo's again, let alone the video. Yet visiting your blog today brought back many memories of when we were together out there in Hamburg – the walks around the Binnen Alster, and the park coming up towards it. The Rauthous etc. I remember that the Germans so loved their sausages and there was an Imbiss at every stop. Sausages before everything I seem to recall. They appeared to plough it with both heavy doses of mustard and ketchup and only served with a tiny roll of bread – not enough to make a decent hot-dog!

    I found many things so interesting during my ten year stay. The old buildings within the city looked as if they had never ever suffered the fire-storm of 1943. Simply because their main structure held and so they were rebuilt within. The only thing obvious of the war to me in Hamburg city is that no tree is older than when the war ended. I also found in Hamburg that many very elderly people suffered guilt from their attitude during Hitler's reign. Yet, the youth held no such strong bonds. To them, it was the Nazi's – a far more reaching culture than the Germans of today. They have simply dissociated themselves from all that – and rightly so.

    During my ten year stay in Hamburg, looking back I did enjoy both the experience and getting to know many German folk. Their land is so beautiful, so is their architecture as well as the people. I don't know why they fought two world wars to improve on themselves, when they had it all already.

    Go visit Hamburg and the rest of Germany. Their culture is different but that is what makes it so interesting. I also admire their so strong language, so learn a bit afor you go.

    Christine Peters

  10. @Christine: Thanks a lot for sharing your story. I have never thought my post can trigger something like that, but I'm glad it did. I hope I can return to Hamburg and bring my wife there and create some special memories as well.

  11. Great article! You haven't been long in Hamburg but still, you had the chance to see a lot of great things. Thanks for sharing! I'm German and to me it's always very very interesting to read articles like that to get a better idea of what foreigners think of my home country ;)

  12. @Bianca: Thank you :) When I visit places, I try to squeeze out the most of them. I really enjoyed Hamburg, it's still one of my favorite places in Germany :) Thanks for dropping by.

  13. I miss so much to hamburg :)
    I'll go back at 2015 :)
    With, someone special too :)

  14. Great tour of the city, I loved my visit also to Hamburg, it really is a surprise. Here's my first impression visiting this cool and historic city.


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