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Cities in germany - Hamburg

Hamburg is Germany's second largest city (after Berlin) and its principal port. The official name Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg recalls its membership in the mediaeval Hanseatic League and the fact that Hamburg is a city state and one of Germany's sixteen Bundesländer.

The state and administrative city cover 750 km² with 1.8 million inhabitants, while another 750,000 live in neighbouring urban areas. The Greater Hamburg Metropolitan Region including nearby districts of Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony covers 18,100 km² with a population of 4 million.


Founded in the first decade of the 9th century as Hamma Burg ("fortified town"), it was designated the seat of a bishopric (834) whose first bishop Ansgar became known as the Apostle of the North. In 845 a fleet said to number 600 Viking ships came up the River Elbe and destroyed Hamburg, at that time a place of around 500 inhabitants. Two years after that Hamburg was united with Bremen as the bishopric of Hamburg-Bremen. In 1030 the city was burned down by King Mieszko II of Poland. The see was finally moved to Bremen after further raids in 1066 and 1072, this time by Slavs from the east.

Frederick I "Barbarossa" is said to have granted free access up the Lower Elbe to Hamburg in a charta of 1189. Hamburg's proximity to the main trade routes of the North and Baltic Seas quickly made it a major port of Northern Europe, and its alliance (1241) with Lübeck on the Baltic is considered the origin of the powerful Hanseatic League of trading cities. However, Frederick's document, still at display at the town museum, is known to be a fake from around 1265. Therefore Hamburg does not hold city rights.

In the 1520s the city authorities embraced Lutheranism, and Hamburg subsequently received Protestant refugees from the Netherlands and France. At times under Danish sovereignty while a part of the Holy Roman Empire, in 1768 it gained full Danish recognition as an Imperial Free City.

Annexed briefly by France (1810-14), Hamburg suffered severely during Napoleon I's last campaign in Germany, but experienced its fastest growth during the second half of the 19th century, when its population more than quadrupled to 800,000 as the growth of the city's Atlantic trade helped make it Europe's third-largest post.

Hamburg was destroyed by fire several times, notably in 1284 and 1842. The last and worst destruction took place in World War II, when the city suffered a series of devastating air raids (24 July-2 August 1943). Today's inner city therefore hosts almost no buildings from before 1842 and even few from before 1945. In February 1962 the city's low-lying areas were affected by severe flooding.

The city boundaries were extended in 1937 with the Groß-Hamburg-Gesetz (Greater Hamburg Act) to incorporate neighbouring Wandsbek, Harburg-Wilhelmsburg and Altona.

During World War II and in response to Germany levelling Coventry two days before, the Royal Air Force began to bomb Hamburg on November 16, 1940. Later, in Operation Gomorrah the British bombed Hamburg on July 28, 1943 which caused a firestorm that killed 42,000 German civilians. By the end of the war at least 50,000 Hamburg residents died from Allied attacks.

The population of the city proper peaked in the mid-1960s at 1.85 million, but has recovered from a mid-1980s low of under 1.6m. Growth is now concentrated in the suburban areas.



  • Literaturhaus


Actors and Actresses

  • Gustav Gründgens
  • Hans Albers
  • Heinz Rühmann
  • Boy Gobert

Poets and Writers

  • Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
  • Matthias Claudius
  • Hubert Fichte
  • Helmut Heißenbüttel


  • Former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt


  • Schauspielhaus
  • Ernst-Deutsch-Theater
  • St. Pauli Theater
  • Theater im Zimmer


  • Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767)
  • Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach (1714-1788, a son of Johann Sebastian Bach)
  • Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)


Hamburg is known for giving the Beatles a start in their musical career in the early 1960s. They played at the Star Club, which was located in the district St. Pauli near the perhaps most famous street of Hamburg, the Reeperbahn.

More recently it is known for some of the most popular German hip-hop acts, such as Sammy Deluxe, Beginner and Fettes Brot. There is also a quite big alternative and punk scene which gathers around the Rote Flora, an occupied villa once owned by Salomon Heine located in the district of Sternschanze. Some of the musicians of the famous electronic band Kraftwerk also came from Hamburg.


Museums in Hamburg include:

  • Afghan Museum
  • Altona Museum and North German State Museum
  • Art Gallery (Kunsthalle)
  • Brahmsmuseum
  • Bucerius Kunst Forum
  • Erotic Art Museum
  • German Customs Museum
  • Hamburg Museum for Archaeology and the History of Harburg
  • Neuengamme concentration camp memorial
  • Speicherstadt Museum
  • Museum of Labour
  • Museum für Völkerkunde

Regional Dishes

Although Hamburg is jokingly said to be the birthplace of the hamburger, this is just a myth. Original Hamburg dishes are "Bohnen, Birnen and Speck" (green runner beans cooked with pears and bacon), "Aalsuppe" (eel soup), "Bratkartoffeln", "Finkenwerder Scholle" (fried plaice), Pannfisch (fried fish), Rote Grütze (something similar to summer pudding consisting mainly of red berries) and "Labskaus".