walking the city /My guided walks combine topographical, historical and architectural highlights. One can also see the town and the harbor via water tours from the rivers and canals. Trading and shipping have always stood in the foreground of Hamburg's history. For this reason, I offer special history tours where I am dressed in the coat and top-hat style of the old Hanseatic merchants.
downtown – central district / The rich decorated façade of the town hall with its 20 statues of emperors and many civic coat of arms of befriended Hanseatic cities are witness to the rich history of the city since the foundation of the original »Hammaborg«, the »castle in the marshes« of the 9th century. The building is the seat of the government and of the parliament of the City State. The adjoining exchange building, completed in 1841, is used by the Chamber of Commerce and can be visited. The bourse was founded in the 16th century in an epoch where Hanseatic traders shifted their interest to the Atlantic. The marketplace is bordered by an arcaded shopping passage along the river Alster and recalls the idea of Hamburg as the »Venice of the North.« Indeed, Hamburg has more bridges then Venice and Amsterdam combined! On the way to the old Port on the river Elbe lie numerous merchant houses along the Dikestreet, which create the typical impression of the old port.
Walk: Two hours incl. indoor tours
downtown – eastern and southern district / The main shopping boulevard between town hall and Central Station is home to many modern department stores, some dating back to the early years of the 20th century. This section of town borders the first business district on the continent erected after the First World War. The office buildings so typical of Hamburg (Kontorhäuser) are one of the main cultural heritage sites, recognised by UNESCO in 2015 together with the large complex of warehouses that form the old docks next to it. A large development project is also situated there: The new neighborhood, called »Hafencity«, is designed to encompass 45,000 jobs and living space for 12,000 people. A new concert building (the Elb-Philharmonic) inauguratet in 2017 had become a new landmark of Hamburg, much like the opera in Sydney. On the tour I point out some of the most interesting shops and galleries situated in the former warehouses.
Walk: Two hours of architecture and town development with indoor tours
downtown – western district / This neighborhood was founded only in the 17th century and is thus called the »New City« (Neustadt). For many years it was populated by the working class, especially by workers from the nearby docks and shipyards, craftsmen as well a large Jewish population. Of special interest are two complexes of almshouses from the 17th and 18th centuries. Some streets from the 19th century have a nice mixture of traditional housing and ground-floor shops and pubs. The Lutheran parish church of St. Michaelis is designed like a delightful concert hall, and every day the four organs are played for the public. One of the instruments is dedicated to the famous music director Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714–1788), who is also buried in the crypt.
Walk: Two hours with indoor tour of St. Michaelis
suburbs / The district of »Sternschanze« with its tenant houses from the industrial revolution for both the middle classes and the working-class lies close to the downtown area. It is what we now tend to call a multicultural or a creative hotspot. This designation is far from exact, but it does give a hint of the social atmosphere prevalent there. It has a long tradition of being home to small factories and workshops as well as much entertainment. It was here that the Circus »Krone« offered its artistic feats and Carl Hagenbecks Zoo numerous other spectacular attractions more than 100 years ago. The new slaughterhouse was located here, together with the production sites of the Montblanc fountain pen or »Steinway and Sons« and other piano manufacturers. The creative potential in the quarter is still astonishing as are the variety of retailer shops and galleries. Impromptu visits are part of the program.
Wild walk: Two hours with indoor tours
the world the merchants made / The trip through downtown Hamburg and the Docklands is narrated and shown to you by a Hanseatic merchant dressed in the traditional coat and top hat, like someone who attended the smaller and bigger events of the 19th century. Visit the exchange building where he recalls the frightening days of May 1842 when what is now called »The Big Fire« destroyed the Townhall, the former main building of the bourse and large parts of the city. In Hamburg trading in goods and letters of credit at an exchange didn't commenced but in the late 16th century, and than in the 19th century trading had grown to new dimensions. Colonial commodities and other valuable goods were being transported by barges in ever-larger quantities along the canals to the merchant houses and warehouses of a city constructed on islands, much like Venice. Modern harbors in the style of the London Docklands were constructed only during the last 20 years of the 19th century as part of a custom-free harbor district. Over the centuries Hamburg was governed by the patrician families and ruled in accordance with their trading interests. For this reason the merchant tour guide praises the ceremonial opening of a new Town Hall in 1897. At halfway or at the end of the walk he will even invite you in for a further visit of a merchant house or one of the large rooms in the warehouses, where once coffee, tea, spices and other goods were stored.
Walk in historical costume: 3 hours with indoor tours