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Best Historic Locations in Hamburg

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Erected in 1897, this impressive Neo-Renaissance town hall is a symbol of Hamburg's wealth and autonomy. The striking turquoise roofs of the imposing edifice have become a defining landmark of Hamburg's skyline. Its magnificent north facade is dominated by a huge tower decorated with bronze statues of past German Emperors. The interior contains some 650 different rooms, of which the Bürgersaal, Kaisersaal and Turmsaal are the most opulent. The fantastic Große Festsaal, with its bronze and marble decor, is still used for celebrations and below the ground, 4,000 oak columns support the building. Hamburg Rathaus continues to operate in an official governmental capacity even today, incorporating the meeting rooms and office of the senate and the mayor respectively.

The Port of Hamburg, situated on River Elbe, is one of the largest ports of Germany. Founded in 1189 by Frederick I, it has been Central Europe’s main port for centuries. Considered Germany’s “Gateway to the World”, this is one of the busiest ports in Europe, with a history that is almost as old as Hamburg itself. The Port of Hamburg is one of Hamburg’s largest attractions, thanks to a variety of museum ships, bars, musical theaters and restaurants dotted across this massive port.

First mentioned in documents dating back to the 12th-century, Alter Kran (Old Crane) is a historic crane in Ilmenau port. The present crane was installed in 1797, was used to lift salts produced by Lüneburg Saltworks and for the landing of firewood. It was in 1840 that the crane lifted its heaviest load, namely the steam locomotive for Ducal Braunschweig State Railway. Somewhere around 1847, the usage of crane decreased thanks to the railway line between Hannover and Hamburg that passed through Lüneburg. Finally, it was in 1860 that, Alter Kran stopped its operations.

One of Hamburg's major landmarks, the Lutheran church of Saint Michael was originally built in the early 17th Century. It still stands today, though it has seen many reincarnations since the original church was built. The building was destroyed by lightning in 1661, which led to its baroque-inspired reconstruction in 1786. In 1906 the burnt down church was rebuilt and then was heavily damaged in both World War I and II. Constructed in the honor of Archangel Michael, the entrance of the church is ornamented with a spectacular statue depicting Archangel Michael's victory over the Devil. Despite its tumultuous history, the church's tower continues to offer incredible views of the city and still plays host to a 300-year-old tradition, whereby a trumpet player plays a hymn facing north, then south, then east and west.

While the Gothic St. Nicholas' Church, Hamburg or St.-Nikolai-Kirche, may stand in ruins, its beauty still shines through the black soot facade. St. Nicholas has been the patron saint of these grounds since 1189, though the church itself has gone through many reincarnations over the centuries. The tower that stands today was constructed in 1874 and won the title of the tallest building in the world. While it has been surpassed by many buildings around the world since then, it is still one of Hamburg's tallest structures. During World War II, the tower's height ultimately led to the church's destruction. Today, visitors to the church ruins can take an elevator to the top of the tower and wander through a memorial to those who lost their lives in World War II.

Built at the end of the 19th century, the Speicherstadt, literally the "City of Warehouses, is the world's largest warehouse complex. The warehouses, many of which are up to eight stories high, are all made of brick while the copper roofs and small towers serve as decorative features. Interestingly enough, the historic Speicherstadt still serves its original purpose - everything from spices to carpets are stored in the huge warehouses erected by local merchants over a century ago. Some of the rooms of the warehouses have even been converted into museums for visitors who are curious about the warehouse district and its history.

Dating back to 1304, this historic street by the water is one of the city's most popular attractions. The first houses to be built were those facing the street; the houses facing the canal followed in the 15th Century, simplifying the transport of goods into the city. It wasn't until the 17th Century that Deichstraße became a major trading center, with merchants living, working and storing their goods in the houses. The Great Fire of 1842 destroyed the majority of the original buildings, but it still contains some of the oldest buildings in the city. The area is particularly atmospheric in the evening when locals flock to the numerous restaurants which have set up shop here in recent years.

The former concentration camp at Neuengamme is both a museum and memorial, which serves as a reminder to future generations. You can learn about the fate of more than 100,000 people who were imprisoned here between 1938 and 1945. Communists, socialists, homosexuals, Jews, Roma, Sinti and criminals were used as forced labor to produce bricks for the nearby brickworks. In 1940, Neuengamme became an actual concentration camp and from 1942 it was used as an armament factory; 55,000 people died here. In addition to a visit to the museum, you can walk around the grounds alone, or go on a guided tour.

Treppenviertel is a quaint, charming riverside neighborhood in Hamburg. The reason for its popularity is the uneven elevation, the whole area can be traversed by a series of stairs, with rustic, thatched houses on both end. The area ends at the river Elbe, where people engage in leisurely activities. Offering panoramic views of the region, it is said that there a total of 5000 steps in Treppenviertel, making it an unmissable attraction.

Built between 1907 to 1911, the oldest of the Elbe Tunnels links the district of St. Pauli with the island of Steinwerder. The twin tunnel is 426 meters(1,398 feet) long and is accessed by commuters and tourists in equal numbers. Built for traffic, cyclists and pedestrians, the tunnel is decorated with ornaments and tiles and can only be reached by lift or the staircase. The interesting dome-shaped entrance hall on the north side was built by Ludwig Raabe and Otto Wöhlecke. This underwater tunnel was one of the pioneers of German engineering at the time of its construction.

As the name suggests, Portugiesenviertel came into existence due to an influx of Portuguese immigrants in the city, who particularly settled in this area. However, their numbers eventually declined and the Spanish immigrants joined their ranks. As a result, the quarter is replete with Portuguese and Spanish restaurants, which attracts tourists and the office goers alike who are looking for a quick bite. The area is also well known for many stunning churches of Nordic origin.

This market-square has been the center of the city since the splendid Town Hall was built here. To the northwest visitors can see the Kleine Alster, bordered on one side by the picturesque Alster Arcades. The other sides of the market square are flanked by shops selling a variety of delights. Two gold-plated masts form the centerpiece of the square, which were built into the square after the fire of 1842. Also found here are Heinrich-Heine memorial and a glass-covered path on the northern side of the square and a memorial for the soldiers who lost their lives in World War One. Visitors exploring Hamburg in the summer should be sure to check out one of the many open-air events that take place in the square in the warmer months.

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