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CruiseDirection - Magazine May 2019

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Hamburg is Germany’s second largest city, with a population of 1.75 million. Situated in the north of the country, on the River Elbe, it is one of the most important harbours in Europe and the world. Perhaps surprisingly, it is also considered, by well-travelled locals to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The local climate ranges from a chilly 28°F in winter to a warmer 68 in summer. The climate is recognised as being bracing and locals relish the freshness of it.  

Though more of a commercial hub than tourist destination, Hamburg’s burgeoning tourist industry, the fastest growing in the country, has been brought about by its wealth; it is the wealthiest city in Germany, its economic importance, geographic location; it has always been easy to reach from other countries and its political status. Perhaps surprisingly, Hamburg has 2,500 bridges, more than Venice and Amsterdam combined. Indeed it has more bridges within its city limits than any other in the world and then there are its lakes and waterways. Galleries and museums add to the attractions, but it is the harbour, which is the undoubted heart of the city and which everything else focuses around.

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Why visit Hamburg ?

Hamburg location iamge - CruiseDirection

Germany’s second largest city

One of the most important harbours in Europe and the world

Known by the old tag line, ‘gateway to the world’, Hamburg acquired the title because the city’s coat of arms comprises a city wall with a gate that is crowned by three towers. This is solidly and obviously a merchant city, with large expensive houses, all dominated by lots of green, rather than palaces, castles and decorative buildings. Of course there are also many architecturally interesting buildings to be seen in various styles.  

A little known fact about Hamburg is that it is one of the most important aerospace centres in the world. Seattle in the US and Toulouse in France are the others.  

Although many jokes are made about people from Hamburg being called Hamburgers, this is in fact true. The word actually came from Hamburg steak, a form of pounded beef, which originated in the city in the mid 19th century. Everything in Hamburg is quickly accessible. The lake is in the centre of the city and the Opera, the famous Kunsthalle Art Museum, the City Hall and the Stock Exchange are all within easy reach. Some of the best views of the city may be gained by climbing the tower of St Michaelis church. This building dates from the 17th century, but has been rebuilt. All Hamburg’s churches have been rebuilt at some point, as some were destroyed during the Second World War, while others were consumed by fire or simply general deterioration.  

The city’s name was derived from the first building to occupy the site, a castle, ordered by Charlemagne in around 800AD and intended as a defence against Slavic invasion. Burg means castle, but the derivation of ’ham’ is uncertain, despite many theories.  

Although substantially ‘cleaned up’, the Reeperbahn, once considered Europe’s most notorious and largest red light district, still attracts droves of tourists. It is still a night haunt, full of bars, strip clubs and nightclubs. It was at the Indra Club in the Reeperbahn where The Beatles truly began their career by gaining recognition and kudos in a seven-week residency, followed by another eight weeks at the Kaiserkeller. The cafes of Schanze, along the beaches of the Elbe, offer an alternative and less hectic walking neighbourhood. Hamburg, like its people, is understated and understatement is always devastatingly attractive.

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