8 Curious Facts About Hamburg, Germany You Won’t Believe Are True – North Sea 2

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The Port Of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany

About 100 km from North Sea and located along Elbe River is Germany‘s largest port, Port of Hamburg. It is called the country’s “Tor zur Welt” or Gateway To The World. Port of Hamburg is as old as the history of the city. Founded in 1189 by Kaiser Frederick I and for centuries it was Central Europe’s main harbor. Because of this, it made Hamburg to grow rapidly as a city of business and commerce with a dominant and proud middle-class. After the re-unification of Germany, it became the fastest growing European port. It ranks the 3rd largest in Europe after Rotterdam (The Netherlands) and Antwerp (Belgium). Aside from terminals of container ships, the Port of Hamburg has also cruise ship terminals. It caters to bulk and dry cargo vessels as well.

About Hamburg:

The second largest city in Germany, next to Berlin. Hamburg is officially called Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. It began with its founding as a mission settlement to convert the Saxons during the 9th century. In the Middle Ages, this city was an important commercial area in Europe. The location of its port and as a free city and state established this stand for centuries. Hamburg was a member of the Hanseatic Market League in the medieval times. It was a free and imperial city of the Holy Roman Empire. Between 1815-1866 this city was a sovereign state of the German Confederation, then under the German Empire in 1871-1918 and during the Weimar Republic from 1918-1937. Under the Nazi regime, Hamburg was a city-state, then a Gau from 1934-1945. When the Allied forces defeated Germany after World War II, Hamburg became a British zone of occupation. Then when Germany was divided in 1949, Hamburg became a state of West Germany (Federal Republic of Germany).

Map showing Hamburg, Germany.

After we left Fatima, Portugal aboard Knock Nalling (my first contract) in 1991, we sailed for a 2-week dry dock to the Port of Hamburg. Though this is the second largest city in Germany, in more ways however, Hansestadt is next to none. I was very excited to explore the city. Well, if you are crazy like me over hamburgers you will realize the reason why. A mix of modern and old, beautiful and bold, Hamburg is more than just a maritime city. Beyond its scenic beauty and historical landmarks, Hamburg is also Germany‘s “greenest city”. About 14% of its is made up of parks and forested gardens. There are other surprising facts about this city. Are you ready to find out 8 curious facts about Hamburg, Germany you won’t believe are true?

1. Only in Hamburg: The Ship Greeting Station, WILKOMM-HOFT

Along the Port of Hamburg is a ship greeting area known as Wilkomm Hoft. Each day from sunrise to sunset, all vessels (over 1,000 gross tonnage) that arrive and leave the port are greeted and bidden goodbye. A curious fact about Hamburg, Germany you won’t believe is true. Ships heading upriver or downriver from the port have to stop at Wilkomm Hoft. The Hamburg flag is then lowered and the flag of the country where the ship was registered will be hoisted. Then the national anthem of the ship’s country of registry will be played. For us at Knock Nalling, the flag of Monrovia was raised and its national anthem was played since Fred Olsen ships were all registered in Africa. “Velkommen” and “Maligayang Pagdating, Mabuhay” said the greeting captain to us, using the languages of Knock Nalling crews (Norwegian and Pinoys). Yes, here at the Wilkomm-Hoft, they will give a short message of welcome in the national language of the ship’s crew. You can watch this spectacular ceremony at a cafe nearby where you will be given additional information (while enjoying a drink) on the route and other facts about the ship.

2. Yes, The Locals Are Actually Called…..HAMBURGERS!

A curious fact about Hamburg, Germany you won’t believe is true. But exactly, a resident of the city of Hamburg is called a Hamburger. One Hamburger, two Hamburgers, each Hamburger, so many Hamburgers...Just like the residents of Frankfurt who are also called Frankfurters. Und ja, the famous sandwich from McDonalds was named after the people of Hamburg. But the people don’t eat the sandwich. What they did was mix the mince meat together with seasonings and onions then shape it into a pattie to come up with the Hamburg steak. During the 19th century, when German immigrants settled in the USA, they introduced the Hamburg steak in their new settlement and of which the Yankees have put it in a bun which they called….yes, you are right, the hamburger.

3. It Was Hamburg That Made The BEATLES, Not Liverpool.

Between August 1960-December 1962, five anonymous musicians from Liverpool used to perform at Hamburg‘s Indra Club at its infamous red light quarter. Using the stage name “Silver Beatles“: Pete Best, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe made around 30 Deutche Marks per night for their 7-hour gig. In those times, Liverpool barely offered them engagements and stints at the “girly bars” in Hamburg was more than a welcome. A curious fact about Hamburg, Germany you won’t believe is true. But the Beatles actually started their career in this city not in Liverpool. John Lennon was quoted once: “I was born in Liverpool but grew up in Hamburg”. Rocking the stage of other Hamburg clubs later on would hone their talents that led to a mega career in the next decades. Even their signature mop-top haircut was also conceived in Hamburg. In the latter part of their Hamburg contract, Ringo Starr will replace Pete Best while Stuart Sutcliffe will quit and they will drop the Silver in their stage name, was simply called The Beatles. Of course when in Hamburg, you can re-live the Beatles’ Hamburg part of their story at the Beatles’ Platz. This is a square at the city’s seedy red lights. A steel silhouette statue of the original 5-member musicians offer visitors a perfect “groupie” opportunity.

4. Angela Merkel, Brahms, Jil Sander…All Share ONE THING In Common.

German fashion designer Jil Sander.

Two Chancellors, two composers, a tennis player, two fashion designers and a model share one thing in common. The were all from Hamburg. A curious fact about Hamburg, Germany you won’t believe is true. Angela Merkel, 1st woman German Chancellor since 2005 was born in Hamburg. Helmut Schmidt, Chancellor of then West Germany from 1974-1982 also hailed from Hamburg. German fashion designer and former creative director of Chanel, the late Karl Lagerfeld came from Hamburg. Famous composers of the Romantic period Johannes Brahms (Brahms Lullaby) and Felix Mendelssohn (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) were Hamburgers. So does Tommy Haas, a former no. 2 best tennis player in the world. Toni Garrn, a supermodel and former girlfriend of Hollywood heartthrob Leonardo Di Caprio came from Hamburg. Fashion’s “Queen of Less” and Japan‘s brand “Uniqlo” designer Jil Sander may have been born in Schleus-Holstein but raised in Hamburg. She is also the brainchild of the perfume lines Woman Pure and Man Pure.

German supermodel Toni Garrn with Leonardo Di Caprio.

5. Reeperbahn – A “NO WOMAN’S LAND” In Hamburg Unless You Are A……Prostitute.

Reeperbahn, Hamburg’s red light district.

In German, they call this area: “die sundigste miele” (the most sinful mile). A curious fact about Hamburg, Germany you won’t believe is true. Reeperbahn, a quarter in Hamburg is an off-limit to women and minors except if you are a sex worker. During the day, this area is a busy street full of shops and places to eat. But as as soon as the dark sets in and the red lights are lit, its bars are opening up. Reeperbahn’s transformation into a “sinful mile” begins.

6. Only In Hamburg Where Buses Have LIBRARIES.

A curious fact about Hamburg, Germany you won’t believe is true. Here, buses integrate libraries into their passengers’ daily ride. They installed bookshelves with books for any one who wants to read (free) while they ride. And don’t worry if you were not able to finish the books and you get off. It is the buses’ policy that you can take the book with you at your hotel but be sure to bring it back to the bus shelf later.

7. The ADVENT WREATH Was Actually Originated From Hamburg.

Next time, when you’ll lit the 2nd candle of Advent, don’t forget that it all started in Hamburg. A curious fact about Hamburg, Germany you won’t believe is true. The advent wreath has its debut in the “Rauter Haus” in Hamburg. This is an orphanage founded in 1833 by a Protestant Pastor Johann Hinrich Wichern. In the run-up to Christmas day, the kids would ask from the Pastor of how many days more before December 25. So as a solution to this problem, the Pastor designed a kind of Christmas calendar – that is, a cartwheel decorated with candles. He hung it up in the prayer room at the orphanage. Wichern has 19 small red candles and 4 white big ones. Everyday he lights a red one and a big one for each Sunday. There, the children knew how many days left until Christmas. In 1860, the people of Hamburg started adorning their wreaths with fir leaves. By the turn of the 20th century, the advent wreath found its place in Protestant Churches across Germany. In 1925, an advent wreath was placed for the first time at a Catholic Church in Cologne. Today, the advent wreath has gone a long way.

8. HOME to Airbus, Nivea and Montblanc.

London, Milan, Paris. Then Hamburg? Maybe it is not the epicenter for latest trends but this north German city has also produced some of the world’s finest brands. A curious fact about Hamburg, Germany you won’t believe is true. From everyday beauty regimen, then to a world-class aircraft to a signature sign pen and accessories, there are labels you probably didn’t know were “made in Hamburg”. Montblanc was founded by Hamburg-based banker Alfred Nehemias and Berlin engineer August Eberstein in 1909. Nivea started in 1911 at a laboratory of Dr. Oscar Troplowitz, a pharmacist in Hamburg. And if one day you will travel to Hamburg on an excellent and efficient Airbus plane, remember that the aircraft was assembled at Airbus’ HamburgFinkenwerder.

Another awesome coastal city which I’ve been to in Europe crossed out off my list. I would strongly recommend this city for you. If you have not been to Hamburg yet, then it’s about time that you will list it on your radar. This stunning North German fraulein awaits you. Ich wunche ihnen eine schone reise. Viel gluck. (Have a nice trip and good luck.)

Reference: Wikipedia