Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg
Hamburg has a number of major sights, some of which are also relatively close to the theater.
The Alster Lake and City Centre
Well Worth a Visit - Especially if this is Your First Trip to Hamburg
Hamburg’s city centre is located round the Alster lake, which is made up of the Binnen (inner) and Aussen (outer) Alster lakes – the lakes were formed by damming the Alster river. The Binnenalster is surrounded by elegant avenues, shops, shopping arcades and hotels. The Aussenalster has beautiful villas and houses on its banks, and in fine weather the lake is full of sailing and rowing boats, while the park on its banks is thronged with walkers, joggers and cyclists. From April to October it is possible to hire sailing boats, canoes, kayaks and rowing boats.
A boat trip round the Alster on one of the Alsterdampfer (Alster steamers) is one of the best ways to get a feel for Hamburg – its quiet elegance and cosmopolitan flair - and to see its wonderful skyline, with the spires of churches like the Nikolaikirche, Michaeliskirche (affectionately referred to as the Michel) and St. Jakobikirche etched against it. The Alster presents a tranquil contrast to the bustling life of the harbour and container terminals. The trip round the inner and outer lakes takes about an hour. For non-German speakers, an English narration with headphones is available on board, just ask.
For more information go to: http://www.hamburg-travel.com/experience/events/alster-boat-trips/alster-boat-trip/. You can also purchase tickets at the ticket office on Jungfernstieg, located just in front of the landing stage from which the boats depart.
After your boat trip cross over to the other side of Jungfernstieg, turn left and walk to the Rathaus (Town Hall), the seat of government of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. On your right you will see the white arches of the Alsterarkaden and the canal with its swans. The Rathausmarkt (market square) is used for public gatherings, wine and food festivals and Christmas markets. It is possible to take a tour of the Rathaus, which was built between 1886 and 1897 and is impressive inside – tours in English are available (see below). From the Rathaus square, you may be able to take a rickshaw ride round the city centre – great fun and your ‘driver’ is usually full of useful local information.
Guided tours of the Rathaus are available on Friday 22, Saturday 23 and Monday 25 May, first tour at 11.15 a.m. and every two hours thereafter till 3.15 p.m., 5.15 p.m. and 4.15 p.m. respectively. The tours are popular so, if you’re interested, be there early as numbers are limited.
From the Rathausmarkt cross the bridge over the canal and turn into Neuer Wall or, a block further on, Grosse Bleichen – both streets are lined with superb designer boutiques, shopping arcades and malls. If you start to feel slightly overwhelmed by it all, a cup of coffee at one of Hamburg’s numerous canal-side cafés and restaurants will soon get you back on track again.
Even if you don’t want to shop (whoever heard of such a thing!), it is great just strolling around, soaking up the atmosphere.
In the vicinity of the theater
St. Michael's Church
For a more comprehensive view of the city, you can head over to one of Hamburg's major landmarks, St. Michaelis. This Lutheran church was the first building to be constructed in Hamburg following the Reformation and is one of Northern Germany's most important baroque churches. It is also home to one of Hamburg's most significant choirs, made up of church members, both children and adults, a horn ensemble, two orchestras and the Trinity Band. For more than 300 years, a trumpet has sounded from St. Michael's Tower, with the Tower Warden playing a chorale in each cardinal direction daily. St. Michael's is open every day from 9 am to 8 pm, and for those who have the stamina to scale the stairs, the view from the Tower is probably the best one Hamburg has to offer.
If you've had a bit too much high-brow activity, we suggest you check out the Landungsbrücken, just a few stops from the theater by bus or train. There you will find the harbor promenade with cafes, souvenir shops and jetties for boat trips around Hamburg's harbour. On a sunny day, it's a perfect place to take a stroll along the water, get a close-up view of the many ships navigating the Hamburg Port, or just sit and enjoy a Bismarck- or Matjesbrötchen (rolls filled with pickled herring) or a Fischfrikadelle (fish burger). If you have some time on your hands you can hop on one of the inexpensive public transport ferries (HVV) to get a taste of Hamburg from the water.
The neighboring district of St. Pauli is home to one of the world's most famous red-light districts:
The seediness and tackiness you will see on the Reeperbahn in the harsh light of day looks quite different under the garish night-time lights of Hamburg's world-famous red-light district, known as "the world's most sinful mile". The name of the street itself has a more innocent origin. It means "rope lane," - to produce the long ropes needed for the ships, ropemakers needed a long, straight track. In the mid-17th century, these rope lanes had to be relocated from the more densely-populated areas of the city to an area outside city walls, namely the country road leading to Altona. The street and the area around it has, of course, long since become a loud, bright, pulsing city district, St. Pauli, replete with restaurants, night clubs, discos, bars, strip clubs, brothels, a sex museum and even a street for men only, the Herbertstraße. Here, potential customers can choose from a wide variety of carnal pleasures, displayed in person behind shop windows. While it is, in fact, a public street, women are well-advised to seek their entertainment elsewhere — for example, in the Große Freiheit on the other side of the Reeperbahn. The Große Freiheit is likewise home to several bars and nightclubs. While Liverpudlians might take exception to Hamburg's claim as "the birthplace of the Beatles," their frequent gigs in several of the clubs on the Große Freiheit honed their performance skills, widened their reputation, and led to their first recording, which brought them to the attention of Brian Epstein. The rest, as they say, is history.
If, after all of that night-time carousing, your head and stomach are demanding some solid nourishment, then head over to Altona's renowned Fish Market. Every Sunday from 5 to 9 am (!) merchants ply their wares — from fresh fish to fruit and vegetables to live fowl and sundry souvenirs — under an open sky. A particular highlight of the market are its "Marktschreier," or professional barkers. Even if you don't understand German, seasoned theater-goers will appreciate the lively, amusing, well-rehearsed open-air performances, and you'll certainly be amazed at these entertainers' ability to captivate a crowd.