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Published: August 30th 2007
Hamburg from the Elbe
Looking down the Elbe to the port where all the big container ships go.
I took the train from Wedel to the centre of Hamburg with Elke and Kirsten to do some sightseeing.
But firstly, the run down on Hamburg... or rather the “Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg” if you want the official title. Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany and is also it’s own state. Hamburg it seems to me as a city is very understated and as a result it constantly surprises you. The character of the place is a bit like the billionaire who still shines his own shoes; out of the ordinary but still down to earth. The harbour is the defining feature of the city and from it the many canals spread like veins. As a result, there are more bridges in Hamburg than in Amsterdam and Venice combined.
So... the main point of the day for me was to see the churches of Hamburg, which included:
* St. Jakobikirche (Saint Jacob’s Church)
* St. Petrikirche (Saint Peter’s Church)
* St. Nikolaikirche (Saint Nicholas' Church, still burnt out from WW II, now an anti war memorial)
* St. Michaeliskirche (Saint Michael’s Church again)
Elke was excellent to have along for these since she is
a treasure trove of knowledge about these Backsteingotik or Brick Gothic churches. I also went to the top of the towers of St. Nikolaikirche and St. Michaeliskirche which gave me a good view of the city. For St. Michaeliskirche I opted to take the stairs to the top instead of the lift and let me tell you, by the time you get to the top the view is an excellent excuse to not move and wait for your legs to stop screaming. Also, about half way up, you can see the mechanical movements that runs the clock tower (another excellent excuse to catch you breath).
I also had a look at the very impressive town hall before having lunch on one of the canals. There is a cafe that serves galettes with tables on a jetty that sits in the canal and has a fantastic view of the St. Nikolaikirche tower. As we were eating the tide came in and we slowly rose to see more and more of the tower. St. Nikolaikirche tower is all that is left of the church after it was severely damaged during the air raids during July 1943 and now stands as a
memorial against war and persecution. The spire being just under 150 meters high served as a beacon to the bomber squadrons. This all occurred as part of 'operation gamorrah' where the factories and U-boat harbours were bombed during the day and residential areas were bombed at night in order to demoralise the German population. As a result of the bombings and the resulting firestorm, 32 000 were killed, 120 000 were injured and over 900 000 people lost all their belongings. Even though it was in breach of international law, it was seen as a proportional response to the German air raids across Europe from 1939 - 1941 however it shows the utter barbarism of world war 2 on both sides of the conflict.
Finally, to round the day off, we hopped onto on the many harbour tour boats which are long and flat barge like ships that ferry tourists around the harbour. This was pretty interesting as it included the old warehouse district as well as the new harbour were we came right up next to (it felt more like underneath) the massive cargo ships being loaded with containers. It was a very good look at the industrial
A painting of Hamburg's skyline before world war 2 hung in St. Jacob's church.
side of Hamburg.
Okay, the blog is now up to date to just before my few weeks of sailing. Bare with me as I have to sift through the 1800 photographs that I took over the last month and formulate it into an intelligible narrative.
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