TOP 5 FOR HAMBURG
- Check out the “Speicherstadt” – the storage part of the city, heralding it as a shipping and trading base.
- Take a free city walking tour – you will learn a lot!
- Venture out of the old town to the St. Pauli/Karolineviertel district – lots of cool modern bars and restaurants to choose from.
- Stop by the St. Niklaus church – little more than a spire now.
- Wander through the counting houses and make sure to look up at the roofs!
Hamburg City Hotel – despite being on the “wrong” side of the train station, this hotel is beautifully decorated with a nice living room area, spotlessly clean, and spacious.
Hamburg is a city that takes a moment to get used to. At first it appears a bit rough around the edges, as many shipping ports are. However, once you dig into the fascinating city history, each corner and street becomes fascinating. Our first task was to take a free city walking tour – a great choice to learn all about the history of the town. The tour starts at the Rathaus, where you learn that the footprint of the building is larger than Buckingham Palace – despite standing on wood piles! Hamburg has a long history as a wealthy and renowned trading hotspot, largely due to it’s unique tax system (aka, no taxes on imports/exports for a long time). As a trading center, there is a huge area full of historical accounting buildings, with each shipping company having its own. To display ownership, there is often a symbol indicating something about the owner on top of each building – a good example is one building with a poodle on top (the owner apparently thought his wife looked like a poodle!) Nearby is the Speicherstadt, where goods were brought in and stored. It’s a really interesting area, both architecturally and historically. Next the tour takes you past the St. Nicklaus church, which was almost entirely destroyed in the horrible fires of the city during WWII. The tour guide was very informative and it was quite horrifying to hear about the extent of damage which occurred during WWII. As a shipping center Hamburg was a hot target, and as such one of the largest firestorms ensued in the city, killing roughly 43 000 civilians and destroying almost everything. Flame heights reached 1500 meters. Near the St. Niklaus church, there is a memorial, and every day at 12 the church bells still ring.
After a lunch at Das Contor, a restaurant near the Speicherstadt, we wandered back through the warehouse area and poked into some shops and cafes. We also stopped by St. Michael church, and went back to the Rathaus – truly one of the most astounding city halls I’ve ever seen.
That evening we took a taxi to SudHang, a fantastic wine bar in the Karolineviertel. The atmosphere was great, the food delicious, and the wine plentiful. Our first evening we went to Picasso, another fabulous find. This tapas bar has authentic Spanish tapas, main dishes, and paellas. We thoroughly enjoyed it.
I loved Hamburg, mostly because the city history is just so interesting. I highly recommend a stop here 🙂