I love a beautiful Rathaus, don’t you? Full of splendour and design, inspirational architecture and a fabulous history. Such thoughts come to mind when visiting Hamburg. I must say the Hamburg Rathaus truly is fabulous.
The German harbour city is a real delight to visit. Such a beautiful central district with great shopping experiences, a delight of restaurants and beautiful buildings. It is true that I love my visits to this city. Sadly tourism can often only highlight the Reeperbahn as a main attraction.
Instead of focusing on all the attractions that Hamburg has to offer I believe that the Rathaus and Hamburg Rathausmarkt deserve a post all to themselves.
For any of you who might be a little confused and wondering why I’m talking about a house for rats, don’t worry I’m not. “Rathaus” is the German word for Town Hall or City Hall. So instead of being a house for rats, the Hamburg Town Hall plays host to politicians (okay rats v politicians I see what you are thinking).
The building is so striking in the heart of the city it is a must not (and to some extent cannot) miss attraction. It is so large that I struggled to find a good position to fit it all into one picture with my medium priced compact camera.
On the latest count the building has at least 647 rooms, more than Buckingham Palace. I say at least because the Town Hall of Hamburg could have more. The most recent room was discovered by chance in 1971.
The Rathaus Hamburg is not only striking but is beside the Hamburg Rathausmarkt, a large market square. I’ve seen this square used for wine festivals and an annual Christmas Market in Hamburg so it is well utilised.
The city hall is the sixth in Hamburg’s history. The current model was a replacement for a Hamburg Rathaus destroyed in a great fire of 1842. With lots of indecision on design and political wrangling the Town Hall was finally built between 1886-1897. I find it hard to believe that it is just over 100 years old when it has so many historical design features and gargoyles.
In fact the Hamburg Town Hall building was badly damaged during the Second World War since Hamburg was heavily bombed. Reconstruction completed in 1957 yet more restoration work was performed in the 1990s.
This chequered history leaves me more in awe of a beautiful Rathaus. Wandering around the Hamburg Market Square I kept looking up at this modern day reflection of the past decorated with 20 emperor statues.
There are Hamburg Town Hall Tours available and the building is open daily from 8am to 6 pm. However I was visiting for work so could only appreciate the place after hours.
I was able to circle the Rathaus and there are two entry ways to a central courtyard. In the middle of the Town Hall courtyard can be found a fountain of Hygieia (the Goddess of Health in Greek mythology). This fountain was created in remembrance of the cholera epidemic in 1892.
Both inside the courtyard and out on the Market Square (Rathausmarkt) the site of the Hamburg Town Hall sums up the beauty of the city of Hamburg. Every time I look at Hamburg Rathaus I do think “What a beautiful Rathaus”.