A UNESCO Filled Return to Hamburg – Come Follow Along!

Posted on / by Alex Berger
Hamburg Photo by Alex Berger

In the midst of a beautiful hot, humid and record setting July in 2010 I found myself sitting on a sweltering train (inside a large ferry) headed across the channel from Denmark to Germany on my way to Hamburg. What followed was a very pleasant whirlwind tour through a city that struck me as being far more charming and rich in history and culture than I had expected.  In my preliminary post back then about Hamburg, you get a sense for the positive opinion of the city I was left with and what, I believe, will be an exciting insight into how much the city has changed in fun and exciting ways in the past five short years.

In truth, I’m shocked when I consider that it has been five years. I’ve often toyed with a return trip to Hamburg, but have only recently started re-visiting and exploring the areas close to my home-base here in Copenhagen.  Over the last year I’ve run into Hamburg repeatedly.  It all started with a NYE trip good friends took last year, which I was unable to attend, but which left me listening to grand stories of amazing adventures. Then once again as friends re-located to Hamburg and sang its praises.  Then even more recently during a series of events here in Copenhagen that touted the many exciting things going on in Hamburg. At the event I was reminded that Hamburg has now progressed fairly far into the construction of their fascinating Elbe Philharmonic Hall project, a captivating project that was only beginning to take shape during my initial visit. Even more importantly, earlier this year, the city’s Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus District with Chilehaus were named as UNESCO World Heritage sites. While I brushed up against these parts of the city in my initial visit, as a bit of a UNESCO World Heritage addict, I made a mental note that I’d definitely be heading back for a more in-depth exploration.

In deciding to include these core areas within Hamburg as a World Heritage site, UNESCO noted the following:

Speicherstadt and the adjacent Kontorhaus district are two densely built urban areas in the centre of the port city of Hamburg. Speicherstadt, originally developed on a group of narrow islands in the Elbe River between 1885 and 1927, was partly rebuilt from 1949 to 1967. It is one of the largest coherent historic ensembles of port warehouses in the world (300,000 m2). It includes 15 very large warehouse blocks as well as six ancillary buildings and a connecting network of short canals. Adjacent to the modernist Chilehaus office building, the Kontorhaus district is an area of over five hectares featuring six very large office complexes built from the 1920s to the 1940s to house port-related businesses. The complex exemplifies the effects of the rapid growth in international trade in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Source.

Cool, right?

Two final pieces sealed the deal. The first of which was learning that moving forward Hamburg and Copenhagen will be acting closely as partner cities with Copenhagen serving as one of the central arteries for access to Hamburg. Already a quick hop away and a fairly convenient and reliable train ride, once the Fehmarnbelt Tunnel is finished transit between Hamburg and Copenhagen will take roughly the same amount of time as a trip from Hamburg to Berlin. The Fehmarnbelt tunnel is progressing and a fascinating project in and of itself, as they’ll be creating a massive underwater tunnel which will holder the record as the longest underwater car and train tunnel in the world (five times longer than the previous title holder which is the Denmark/Sweden Øresund tunnel).  The key word here is trains AND cars as the Chunnel between England and France is longer but confined exclusively to trains.  If you’re construction inclined you can read up on some of the fascinating stuff being done as part of the Fehmarnbelt tunnel here.

City Hall from Above - Hamburg, Germany

I’m going back to Hamburg

The final piece of the picture that sealed the deal and means that I get to share with you all that I’m returning to Hamburg? A chat with Hamburg Tourism who have invited me back to see how the city has evolved, deep dive into the history, and to learn a lot more about their new UNESCO Heritage sites.  Needless to say, I’m super excited. Not just because it means that I’ll be heading back to Hamburg, but because I’ll get the opportunity to take you with me and to deep dive into some of the crazy and exciting things that Hamburg has to offer while seeing how the city feels as it gears up for the holidays.

This upcoming Friday the 13th of November (whew!) I’ll be heading to Hamburg for a weekend jaunt through the city alongside several other Nordic travel bloggers. This means you can follow along as I explore the city, ask questions, and devour all the exciting tidbits, both from my perspective as well as those of the folks who will be joining me. We’ll each be focusing on different aspects of Hamburg, which means you’ll get a very diverse view of the city as you follow along.

So, here’s the nitty gritty.

I’ll be using the following hashtags so you can follow along: #UNESCOHamburg and #hamburgwinterseason.  You should also keep an eye on #culturehamburg and #winterhamburg.

Hopefully you’re already following me across socials, but if not – make sure you add: InstagramFacebookTwitterYouTube – and now Snapchat: glamdering.

You can also see how my take on Hamburg compares alongside those of the folks who will also be joining me (and likely making a few cameos in snaps and photos).

Fellow Copenhagen based blogger Caroline Coupe from Love Live Travel

Norwegian blogger Satu from Destination Unknown

Swedish blogger (In Swedish) Helena from Oh Darling, Let’s Be Adventurers

and Norwegian blogger Anne-Sophie from Sofie’s World

This trip is part of a collaborative campaign between Hamburg Tourism and Nordic Travel Bloggers. What does that mean? They’ve invited me to Hamburg, will provide support, suggestions and make a few local introductions to help ensure I get some extra insights into what the city has to offer. I’m also compensated for the trip. However, as always, I retain full editorial control over all material I share, my itinerary, and will only be sharing with you authentic and original experiences I believe you’ll find interesting.

Alex Berger

I am a travel blogger and photographer. I also am involved in academic research into the study abroad and backpacker communities.