It was with some curiosity that I arrived to Hamburg, as I had always heard – from whom had already been there – that it is one of the best cities in Germany, thanks to its high quality of life and its intense cultural life. The vastness of its port, the network of channels that unfold through the city, the symmetry and imposingness of its buildings, the bond between old and new – clear sign of a recent past that distinguishes the main German cities – are some of the endemic features that better identify the city.
Starting right from the port, it is possible to hop on the regular ferry services along the Elbe river to get an idea of the extension of the port itself, to visit (weather permitting) the urban beach and the rich mansions that embellish the hills in the surroundings. On Sunday morning, if you are early birds, you can get on the same ferry and get off in Altona, where you can assist to the weekly fish market.
If you would like a change of perspective and you would like to take an unusual walk, the Alter Elbtunnel was built in 1911 and it is still open to pedestrians: it is a jewel of art nouveau that will help you discovering the city from a different point of view.
Leaving the Alter Elbetunnel behind and carrying on walking by the port – maybe while you are looking for a place to have lunch – you could start noticing several Portuguese flags hanging from the windows of the surrounding buildings, read the menu of restaurants called “Porto”, “Olá Lisboa” or “Casa Madeira”. No worries, you are not lost: welcome to the Portugiesenviertel, the neighbourhood that since the 1970s hosts the local Portuguese community. Also for those who “only-eat-typical-food” this is a valid suggestion to stop at least for the coffee, which is renown not to be the best among German drinks.
Walking around the center it is possible to observe different distinctive buildings such as the Town Hall (Rathaus), the Church of St. Michaelis and the Church of St. Nikolai. One of the most emblematic buildings of the city is the Chilehaus, thanks to its unique shape that resembles the prow of a ship and its decoration with maritime elements.
The identity of the city is deeply linked to its port and in the Hafencity neighbourhood (literally translated: port city) it is possible to find its most iconic and representative architecture: the red brick buildings that now host offices, used to be the headquarters and warehouses of the shipping companies that here stored spices and goods.
In January 2017, with the aim of regenerating the area, it will finally open its doors, after years of works, debates and controversial use of public money, the Elbphilarmonie, Hamburg new iconic building designed by the studio Herzog & de Meuron.
Moreover, Hamburg offers several museums and art galleries, such as the Kunsthalle, historical museums such as the Internationales Maritimes Museum, or unconventional museums as the Miniatur-Wunderland that, thanks to its hidden hot details can turn out to be an unexpected surprise.