On every occasion I write about how much I love living in Hamburg. The proof is here. Now it’s time to write about the neighborhoods that make this city to the one I love living in so much. I know many of my Hamburger friends will hate me for writing this post as this kind of writings attract more tourist and attention which causes gentrification.
I know they are right and I’m sorry but I can’t help writing about the places I like. This is what I do. Besides, honestly the world should see and understand what makes Hamburg so special and awesome.
Join me on a walk from St. Pauli Harbour to Sternschanze to get to know the notorious neighbourhoods of Hamburg.
Our tour starts in Landungsbrücken (landing piers of the Hamburg port). This place is definitely the heart of the Hamburg port. All cruises, harbour tours, ferries, shuttle ferries for the musicals, hop on/off buses and many more depart from here. Also all the ship museums such as Rickmer Rickmers, Cap San Diego, etc. and the tourist magnet St. Pauli Elbtunnel (426m-long passageway covered with white tiles beneath the Elbe River) are all located here. So you can imagine how busy this part of Hamburg is.
Therefore let’s head to Fischmarkt (fish market) walking along the Elbe River via St. Pauli Hafenstrasse. You might wander what’ so special about this place, if you’re visiting it not on a Sunday morning between 5am and 9am, because on only at that time you have the possibility to have a real traditional fish snack in this legendary market. Beware of the drunken folks staggering down from Reeperbahn 🙂
When you walk back from Fischmarkt to St. Pauli Hafenstrasse don’t forget to check the houses with the colorful facades, occupied in the 80s and now a cooperative administered by its residents. These buildings are indispensable from Hamburg’s contemporary history and represent perfectly the participating society of Hamburg fighting against gentrification.
Now, having a break here at the Park Fiction with a beer is a must. This park doesn’t only offer beautiful views of the Hamburg Port and Elbe River, but also makes again obvious how a community movement can stop the City Administration to build an expensive building and turn it into a public park for everyone designed by the residents. The park was renamed to Gezi Park Fiction to show solidarity with Gezi Park protests in Istanbul. Also take a look at Golden Pudel Club, a very small club for legendary punk concerts or DJs with electronic vibes.
Now let’s head to Reeperbahn, which is famous with its red light district. I admit I don’t like this face of Reeperbahn, not that I have anything against this kind of entertainment, but I don’t like the audience coming to Reeperbahn only for the sex shops, strip and peep shows and people reducing Reeperbahn to its red light district make me angry. In the meanwhile I learned how to avoid the main street and take the side streets to reach the bars, clubs and music venues. Since then I started even to like this part of St. Pauli.
If you are in Reeperbahn it is a must to have a look at the Beatles Platz (Beatles Square). Typical photo motive for most tourists offer the steel sculptures of the fab four. Walk up the street called Grosse Freiheit (Great Freedom). It is called Beatles Platz, because the band played their first shows in the clubs in this street. Star Club and Kaiserkeller, which is still a well known concert venue in the basement of Große Freiheit 34, also a big music venue. Not sure if it is true but Lennon supposedly said that he was born in Liverpool, but grew up in Hamburg. Their shows in Hamburg indeed was the door opener of their music career.
Now at the end of Grosse Freiheit Street turn right and take the second right again to walk down the street Hamburger Berg which is surrounded by bars and clubs everywhere. It is the place to start (or end) a night out in Reeperbahn, Hamburg’s Kiez.
Let’s leave the neon lights behind us and walk down the Reeperbahn heading to Millerntor Stadium, home of the Football Club St. Pauli. This football club and its fan community play a huge role in Hamburg with their political statement for being anti-racist, anti-ageist and anti-sexist.
Right next to the stadium, in the Heiligengeistfeld, you’ll see Hamburger Dome, a huge funfair which is held three times a year, Winter, Spring and Summer. Admittedly I was only once there and didn’t like it, but it’s because I’m not the type of person enjoying such folks fests anyway. So decide for yourself. If you’re travelling with kids, it is definitely a perfect place to spend time.
Now let’s head to Karoviertel, my favourite neighbourhood of Hamburg. I love walking in the streets around here as it is like an open-air street art museum.
From Karoviertel, let’s pass by Knust where many St. Pauli football fans meet here to watch the game. Now we go through Beck Street, a cute street with small identical buildings standing next to each other.
Now we reached the hearth of Schanzenviertel (Schanze District), a neighbourhood which is a clear victim of gentrification. Once a poor worker neighbourhood turned into a magnet for students and party folks which led to a transformation of the neighbourhood that the poor workers obviously were not able to pay the high rents anymore. Take a walk around Sternstrasse and Schulterblatt and decide for yourself. Let’s see if you recognise the last men standing and the new boutiques or bars made for hipsters.
One of the last men standing is Rote Flora. I remember having a real goosebumps moment back in 2014 as Beginner (a famous Hamburger hip hop band) had a gig for free in front of “Rote Flora”. Thousands of people gathered to celebrate (under the rain) the 25th anniversary of its occupation, saving it from being turned into just another musical theater. It has since become a meeting point for political awareness.
If you want to read more about Hamburg visit my Hamburg page. Also in the German website myQuarter you can find useful tips. To learn more about Hamburg have a look at Lonely Planet's Travel Guide for Germany.
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