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Best Landmarks in Hamburg

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The name 'Planten und Blomen' has its origins in the old Hamburg dialect for 'plants and flowers'. With a huge variety of trees, plants, flowers, a Japanese garden and an ice skating rink for winters, the park attracts thousands of visitors throughout the year. One of the major summertime attractions is the water, music and light show. This impressive display takes place on a regular basis attracting a decent crowd of tourists. There is also an adventure playground and numerous other activities to ensure that kids enjoy themselves amidst the scenic beauty that is Planten und Blomen.

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.

Chilehaus, or Chile House, is a magnificent ten-story office building that takes up a whole street. Finished in 1924 and designed and built by architect Fritz Höger, Chilehaus is among one of the finest representations of Brick Expressionism, a style of architecture. It was commissioned by a shipping magnate who made living trading saltpeter with the Chileans, giving it the name it goes by today. Made of clinker brick with a sharp point at one end, the structure brings to mind a ship's helm. The elegant facade, Gothic-style arcades and the intricate ceramic decor in the entrance hall combine to make this one of Hamburg's most impressive buildings. Moreover, in 2015, the building was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, adding to its popularity.

The beautiful Friedhof Ohlsdorf or 'Ohlsdorf Cemetery' covers an area of 400 hectares (988 acres) and is the world's biggest rural cemetery. Many German and European celebrities have been buried here and the cemetery is filled with their tombstones and statues. You can also explore the twelve chapels, three museums and see the graves of soldiers. The lake and meadows, with numerous sculptures and impressive mausoleums, make Ohlsdorf Cemetery much more than just a graveyard. One of the museums contains remarkable old tombstones, and guided tours allow visitors to absorb the serenity of these sacrosanct environs.

The 18-hectare (44-acres) Binnenalster (Inner Alster) was separated from the Outer Alster in the 17th Century and is flanked by three promenades: the Ballindamm, Jungfernstieg and Neuer Jungfernstieg. The Binnenalster is the perfect oasis to relax and enjoy the view of some historic buildings, other than partaking in a few water sports and activities in the summer.

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.

Outer Alster Lake is the largest of two artificial lakes that were created along the Alster River. It is called the outer lake because it remained outside Hamburg's city walls until the walls were torn down in 1804. Despite its shallow depths - the lake only reaches a maximum depth of 8.2 feet (2.5 meters) - the lake is used for many recreational activities, including sailing and rowing. Each morning, joggers can be seen running along the path that circumnavigates the lake while sunny afternoons draw picnickers to Outer Alster's grassy banks. During extremely cold winters, the lake can freeze so completely that ice skaters carve numerous paths along with the lake's icy visage.

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