Hamburg is an ancient port and this has been the secret of its success. The deep, wide waters of the Elbe have allowed the city a location that is unusually far inland. This makes it ideal for delivering good deep into the heart of the country, and has led the city to become the second busiest port in Europe (and one of the busiest in the world).
The modern harbour was built down river from Hamburg so that the coal burning steamships it served couldn't set fire to the city. It's continued to serve boats up until the present day. Unsurprisingly, as it was a prime target, and Allied bombers used rivers as navigational devices, the harbor building and environs were destroyed during World War 2. But the buildings have since been fully restored.
It is now a major tourist attraction and cultural monument. It is the beginning and end of a wonderful walk along the Elbe to the city centre. You can also find the famous Fishmarkt nearby.
The most significant economic unit for Hamburg is the Port of Hamburg, which ranks 3rd only to Rotterdam and Antwerp in Europe and 9th worldwide with transshipments of 9.8 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) of cargo and 134 million tons of goods in 2007.
After German reunification, Hamburg recovered the eastern portion of its hinterland, becoming by far the fastest-growing port in Europe.
International trade is also the reason for the large number of consulates in the city. Although situated 68 miles (110 km) up the Elbe, it is considered a sea port due to its ability to handle large ocean-going vessels. Hamburg, along with Seattle and Toulouse, is an important location of the civil aerospace industry.
It is a very important part of the port of Hamburg and main tourist attraction. More of the tourist ships depart from here. You can see the port along the river and the building of the Elbsymphonie, still in construction.
Hint: when you get to the U-bahn and S-bahn station "Landungsbrücken", don't go directly to the port, but try to find the way to go up the hill. There is a magnificent view from there.
The largst port in Germany, and the second-largest port in Europe (after Rotterdam) - the Hamburg harbour is a place of commerce, with over 120 mio. tons of goods going through the port each year; shipping lines connect the harbour with over 900 other ports worldwide. It is also a place of tourism, with ferry boats and harbour cruises departing all day long. One of the landmarks of the harbour is the historic sailing ship "Rickmer Rickmers" and the Cabo San Diego freight ship.
For years various residents’ groups in St. Pauli have been resisting gentrification and huge building projects in their neighborhood. Starting in 1994, the Hafenrandverein (Harbor Edge Association) protested against and finally prevented the construction of a housing and office development on this site facing the harbor.
Instead, they proposed a public park, called “Park Fiction”, which after a long and difficult eleven year campaign was finally established in 2005.
The unusual shapes and functional design of this park – not at all like the primly manicured bourgeois parks you can find elsewhere in the city – were developed with the participation of local residents. The park has proved to be immensely popular, as can be seen in my photos. Despite the storm that is obviously brewing in the sky, people are still sitting around on the artificial hills chatting and looking out at the harbor.
Third photo: Nearby I saw this poster protesting against the proposed demolition of some existing buildings. Though the buildings in question are quite ugly, they are part of the neighborhood structure of “residents, neighbors, shopkeepers and nightlife”. The protestors demand an end to “investors’ fantasies about St. Pauli”.
Next: Fischerhaus restaurant
Ports fulfil many functions, and although the loading and unloading of goods is the business that makes the money, it's easy to overlook that ports also house docks that are used to maintain and repair the shipping fleet.
The fabulous boat tours of Hamburg port allow you to experience the full gamut of dock facilities, from the 'backyard' dock facilities of yesterday to the super duper dry docks required by the modern container fleets.
Yet one more reason to take a harbour tour!
The port may be a nice spot if you want to check the huge port(the biggest in Germany and third in Europe by the way), the large ships, huge container terminals and the doggy area of St.Pauli. Apart from that it’s a place full of restaurants and souvenir shops but also the place where you can take a boat tour through the port of Hamburg. I was suggested the route #62 but as we didn’t have much time we preferred to walk around a bit and find a place to eat something.
We noticed many ships coming in from all over the world but I was surprised by some really huge yachts (some of them have helicopter landing area!), I guess they belong to some billionaires.
There are boat tours around the harbour, they last 1 hour and they cost 12 euros(there are also some that last 2 hours). Check the companies outside the subway station. Have in mind that the small boats can go closer to big vessels while the big boats cant even enter some canals.
Hamburg's harbour is always good for a surprise. With ships coming in from all over the world, you never really know what you will see during your tour. If the captain of your boat is well-informed (and mine was), you'll be able to learn very many interesting things. This tip therefore is rather personal: The two ships I saw won't probably be there anymore when you do this trip, but there'll be other similarly interesting ones.
1. Maersk Sheerness
The name says it all: this ship is the sheer size! It's roughly 330m long and 43m wide and thus among the largest ships in the world. We were lucky enough to see it in Hamburg's harbour unloading some of its up to 8,000+ TEU containers. TEU means "twenty-foot equivalent unit", i.e. every container is 20ft long. I found it really incredible that men are able to build such a colossus - and even more that it only takes 36 hours maximum to unload all the containers. See my Hamburg travelogue for more pics of Maersk Sheerness.
This yacht is the world's most expensive and biggest yacht and is just being built at Blohm & Voss in Hamburg. It's almost completed, so be quick if you want to see it! The owner is Roman Abramovic, one of the world's richest men, and his newest yacht cost him ca. $500,000,000. Not exactly cheap, but then again the ship is 170m long, has nine decks, a pool, a cinema, a discotheque, 20 jet-skis, 4 motor boats, 2 helicopter landing places and will be equipped with a missile-defense system! According to our captain, maintaining the boat costs $20,000,000 per year...
Hamburg's harbour is the biggest in Germany, the third-biggest in Europe and the eleventh-biggest in the world. It covers an area of more than 7,200 hectars. While there was a harbour as early as in the 9th century, the official founding date is May 7, 1189. Every year, Hamburg celebrates this date with the "Hafengeburtstag", a big funfair. Half a century later, Hamburg introduced the first code of law, the Ordelbook, which regulated the trade in the harbour. The importance of the harbour grew quickly and soon Hamburg was one of the main ports of the hansa trade. A main good to be shipped abroad was - who would have guessed that? - beer: In 1375, there were 457 breweries in the city! While the sands of time brought many changes to the trade via the harbour, Hamburg didn't lose its importance. The harbour was changed every time this was necessary: old parts were closed, the basins filled up with earth and used to built warehouses; new parts with deeper basins for bigger ships were erected further down the river Elbe, quais were redesigned, wharfs closed and opened again... Nowadays, Hamburg is one of the winners of globalization. The harbour is as busy as during its heyday, but in a different way. With container terminals that are among the most modern in the world, Hamburg's harbour has become quieter. Everything functions electronically, so you hardly see any ship-boys anymore but rather giant cranes unloading goods.
It is rather obvious that Hamburg's harbour, being the biggest in Germany, is worth a tour. Every tourist does it, and while this usually is something that annoys me, I couldn't resist this time. It turned out to be a very good decision. A normal tour takes you to different sights in the harbour within one hour, a long tour takes two hours. Most of the tours include several of the quais as well as the Speicherstadt which was Hamburg's warehouse quarter and is now a very expensive business district. Mine, however, didn't but that was no drawback at all. Instead I saw more of the actual harbour area (see next tip).
The tours leave from the so-called Landungsbrücken (landing stages). As soon as you step out of the subway, you'll hear the tour company agents shouting "Hafenrundfahrt!". There are several companies to choose from and they all seem to have the same prices: 12 Euro for one hour. Only the ones with a very splendid big boat will cost more. I was lucky enough to pay only 10 Euro because I arrived just as the boat was leaving and was granted a discount. This might be worth trying - competition among the tour companies is hard. My tour boat belonged to Barkassen Meyer, and while the captain had a very strange humour at some times, I still enjoyed the tour and would recommend it.
A magnificent area that stretches along the southern shores of the River Elbe and no doubt the most popular city attraction. It is the largest port in Germany and the third largest in Europe. Not only warehousing, industrial and logistic center but also as a backdrop for modern culture and the ports history. About it's history there are various museum ships; musical theaters, bars, restaurants and hotels - and even a floating boat church.
This place was my first sightseeing destination here. Wonderful sights!
Behind Speicherstadt, some old harbour premises have been closed down and demolished. This area is now build upon, construction works are still in progress. Apartments and offices will attract a well-to-do clientele. Several thousands of people, I assume most of them wealthy yuppies, are going to live in the new quarter by the Elbe. This will change the whole character of this part of town, including the Speicherstadt.
Kehrwiederspitze at the end of Speicherstadt has already been turned into an enormous modern office complex (photo 4). The old Kaiserspeicher (photo 3), an unused storage by the river, is going to be the next ambitious construction site. It is supposed to carry a huge concert hall for classical music events, the Elbphilharmonie.
The green three-master with the green sails is well known from photos in magazines. When she is not busy advertising a certain beer from Bremen, her home is in Hamburg at Überseebrücke with the Cap San Diego as her neighbour.
Rickmers is one of Hamburg’s old family-owned shipping companies, who names their vessels after family members. They are still active in worldwide freight business, although they are not using sailing ships any more… I recently encountered a huge container carrier named Albert Rickmers (though under Liberian flag) full of Hapag Lloyd containers in the port of Fremantle, Western Australia (photo 3).
The huge bridge across a wide harbour basin named Köhlbrand leads into the free port area. It is a popular access for trucks, as it is connected to the Autobahn leading south and to the Elbtunnel, so the trucks can avoid the city and go straight on the freeway. There are always traffic jams on the bridge because there are many trucks and they have to clear customs when leaving the free port.
In case you plan to drive Köhlbrandbrücke, take your ID or passport because you will enter the free port.
Cap San Diego is a museum ship, moored at Überseebrücke and open to visitors. In her active times the freighter was travelling the South America route. Now she is retired and hardly ever leaves the port.
On special occasions, however, she is allowed a day off, and the old lady seems to enjoy the chance to set out for the North Sea waters again (photo 4 and 5). I can only guess why she went out that day when I caught her from the Elbe bank at Övelgönne: there was a very big and very official visitor from the UK in the harbour and they probably needed the space at Überseebrücke.