Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A Photographic Walk through Hamburg

I've lost count how many times I visited Hamburg, but every time I've been there it rained, at least for a couple of minutes. This time, helped by the IRE Berlin-Hamburg Spezial Ticket, I am together with my friend who is here for the first time and luckily, for the duration of our stay, I can't see and feel any drop of rain. Perfect for a long and fast walk with my camera ready to catch the best visual attractions of this city.
From the train station, we walk fast until St. George area, which I extensively explored during my last visit, more than six months ago. With the hip restaurants and street art, this part of Hamburg can be easily compared - without being the same - with Berlin's Kreuzberg. 
The neat geometry of the red-bricked houses bordering streets that seem to never end is one of my favorite visual hobbies when in this city. 
Someone not too much in love with Hamburg, might consider the above-mentioned style as a lack of sophistication, but for such tastes, there are enough samples of classical architecture to soak your curious eyes in.
City of sailors and adventurers, Hamburg benefited of the curiosity of its older and newer residents who once back home or settled here, wanted to help this city to shine at least as much as the places they visited during their travels. Like this beautiful building on Georgsplatz, a sample of fine Venetian architecture.
Another favorite of mine is this heavily decorated building on Mönchebergstraße. It seems that the architects creativelly used any single part of the fassade to create volumes and new angles. Did you spot the little stone boat on the top already? If yes, your observation skills are really good. Although I've seen it a couple of times and even photographed it, I haven't been able to see it at first...
The 19th century building of the city hall is an institutional and architectural staple of the city. The eclectic Neo-Renaissance style is a visual challenge. Besides its local administrative function, the city hall is also the set of the local government, and tours of the main halls are possible.
As I visited this place also many times, I am looking for some specific angles and corners. The interior yard takes me instantly in an Italian piazza, preferably from one of the places famous for their classical architecture. For a while, I just forget that I am in Hamburg, and in a city hall, nevertheless...
My eyes are browsing the space, admiring every single secret corner which reveals more space and style, completing admirably the rest of the construction. 
There is more to see, and the Venetian charm is throwing its spell on me, either when I am looking at the delicate swans resting under the sun near the small channels, or I am spying with my little camera eye the elegant shopping avenues guarded by stone-laced decorations.
HanseViertel is the beating heart of the luxury shopping in the city, but today, I am off checking rather the architectural details instead of the elegant outfits prices. The old buildings received some modern touch creating different, more open and transparent visual impressions.
Original details and inserts are sometimes surprising, especially when it comes to the esmerald blue tiles decorating some of the fassades.
Or the little blue guardians on the columns separating the window walls. The style in this area goes far beyond the complicated Venetian influences.
As the city was ready for Christopher Street Day, most buildings were decorated for the occassion with the rainbow flag, a symbol of tolerance and openness which Hamburg breeth deep, even long time before Berlin.
Our next stop is to see the famous Elbphilharmonie which was finally inaugurated the last year. From far away, it looks like a snow-capped mountain crowning the warehouses neatly lined on the borders of the river.
Taking as many pictures as possible of those buildings, which at the first sight look abandoned for centuries, but where sometimes you can find hidden treasures such as colourful oriental carpets from the finest worshops in the Middle East, is one of my usual habits when here.
But even looking into the far away depths is useful for your photographic impressions, when you bring your eyes closer to home, you can catch interesting details, such as this money collecting pole putting on trial the money throwing skills of the visitors staying on the small bridge nearby.
It is lunch time in the last day of the week, and at least for a while, the buildings are becoming more animated, with colourful silhouettes visible on the outdoor balconies, taking some fresh breath of air before the last sprint into the weekend.

More than any other previous trips, my journey this time is like a travel round the most interesting European cities. While looking at this orderly disposition of houses of different sizes and colours I instantly think - and dream - about Amsterdam, a city I definitely need to revisit soon.
While - as usual - daydreaming about trips and travels we arrived in the front of the futuristic boat shape of the Philarmonie. You can visit it for free, but the entrance is limited to a specific number of visitors, therefore, you need to be there as early as possible to avoid the usual busy hours.
Honestly, I had completely different expectations when insisted to go to the top of the Elbphilharmonie. First and foremost, I wanted to have a look at one of the concert hall and the specific match between high-end acustics and architectural design. But it is not possible, unless I want to book a ticket to one of the concerts. Maybe one day, if I finally decide to spend more than a couple of hours in this city, as I usually do.
Second, once on the top of the building, you have a perspective over the city, but unfortunatelly, there is no map or short written description of what do you view and what part of the city you can see in one of the four main directions.
Despite those shortcomings, the view is impressive and offers a completely different perspective on the city.
When I've seen the city from the top, there is a completely different appreciation I do have now for the many spectacular buildings encountered on my wanderings. It seems that the vision of a strict, yet rebelious architectural soul, is a main feature of this city that never cease to amaze me.
Talking about surprises, for the first time I am visiting the famous KomponistenQuarter, a small Dutch-looking hidden street dedicated to the very active musical life of the city, which started centuries before was any discussion about building an ElbPhilharmonie.
The narrow Peterstraße bordered by typical red-bricked houses ending in curvaceous roofs, hosts six museums dedicated to famous German and international musicians who were born or associated at certain extents their life with the city of Hamburg: Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach - from the famous Bach family, Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn, Johannes Brahms, Georg Telemann, Johann Adolf Hasse and Gustav Mahler. 
Besides beautiful architecture, Hamburg also has natural parks like the Planten un Blomen the perfect natural retreat you need to put together your thoughts after such an intensive visit in this surprising German city.
As in many other occassions, this trip was also an opportunity to spot places I would love to visit the next time. With a couple of museums and some children attractions added on my list, I am glad to announce that there will be a new visit to Hamburg. Hopefully soon!

For more inspiration for a short-trip to Hamburg, check the dedicated Pinterest board covering also photos from previous visits.

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