Hamburg City Guide

Contrary to what you might be thinking, this not where hamburgers come from. But wait, before you get disappointed you might be interested to know that this is Germany’s second largest city and it is where the Beatles took their first steps to stardom. They particularly stayed within the Reeperbahn district, also known as the city’s red light district. Characterized by its diverse population, hedonistic philosophy and an active commercial harbor, Hamburg was able to reach economic prosperity and is now one of Germany’s richest city states. The term “Hamburgers” actually refer to the people residing in Hamburg. Still wondering how Hamburg got its name? The name Hamburg was coined from the term Hammaburg, referring to Emperor Charlemagne’s castle. It is the first enduring structure ever built in the area during that time (808 AD). Since the 19th century it has adapted a more formal name: Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg (translates to: Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg) as it developed into a commercial district and became a member of the Hanseatic League. Strategically located within the Elbe River, and flanked by bodies of water (Baltic Sea at the eastern side and the North Sea at its western side), it is not surprising to find that the city quickly prospered especially since it was granted free trading rights in 1189 by Frederick I. It was not spared however from downfall. The Great Fire ate about a third of the city buildings. And Germany’s loss in World War II hurt Hamburg’s economy as it lost about 1,500 trading ships. Resilience, utilization of the media and harbor industries eventually propelled the city to its former glory. Currently, the tourism industry plays a vital role in their economy. As in any German city, buses and trains lay at the heart of Hamburg’s public transport system. HVV is the company responsible for the smooth operation of the system. It covers the two main zones of the city namely: 1) Nahbe-reich – encompasses the area between St. Pauli and Hauptbahnhof 2) Grossbereich – encompasses the part of the central area including the communities in the outer regions. Train tickets are dispensed by machines located at the entrance of the stations while bus tickets can be bought from the driver. Unlike Munich, Hamburg has a larger area thus making driving within the city more convenient. Perhaps the only problem is the expensive parking fee. Living up to its reputation as a harborpolis, a typical guided tour involves guests riding on boats as they go around the city. Walking tours are also being done as well. But with the abundance of waterways in its natural landscape, a boat tour is the best way to navigate through its meandering pathways. Visits to museums, churches, parks and beaches are included in its tour packages. If you’re lucky, you might chance upon one of its annual festivals like the Hafengeburtstag – a celebration of Hamburg port’s foundation; Christopher Street Day – a celebration of gay pride; and the Filmfest Hamburg – a festival showcasing films of different themes and genre.