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Hamburg Town Hall
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrThough it doesn't come often that a town hall becomes a touristic objective, the one in Hamburg surely is an exception; with its impressive architecture, all the more for a town hall building, it dominates the promenade of the inner city center.
HistoryIn 1842, following the Great Fire of Hamburg in which the old town hall was destroyed, construction for a new hall began, while the city council moved into a temporary building. Designed by seven architects, the new building took 44 years to complete, and cost 11 million gold marks, the equivalent of 80 million EUR in present day. After the war, the Hamburg Town Hall hosted several important visits from various heads of state, such as Emperor Hile Selassie, Queen Elisabeth, and Mohammed Reza Pahlavi.
ArchitectureThe unique house of the city council stands out through its architecture, especially the facade, with a fatuous decor, and the 20 statues that are flanking it, representing emperors. While the building counts 647 rooms, one of them was accidentally discovered in 1971 during a document search, so legend has it that one may never be too sure about the room number.
The architectural style of the town hall is neo-Renaissance, while on the inside it adopts elements of historical style, making it one of the few preserved buildings of historicism. It is a monolith of the wealth and power of the German Empire, freshly formed after the victory over France in the Franco-German War.
The courtyard displays a fountain in the shape of Hygieia , the Greek goddess of health, and this reminds of the time in which it was built; right after the cholera epidemic in 1892. It originally served the purpose of cooling the air in the hall.
The front gate is one of the most impressive, made of wrought iron, and displaying a Latin inscription above it, which reads “Libertatem quam peperere maiores digne studeat servare posteritas”, meaning “The descendants shall seek worthily to maintain the freedom achieved by their forebears”.
The entrance hall is built upon 16 pillars decorated with the representations of important Hamburg figures. The staircase is made of Sardinian marble and it depicts the natural cycle of the human lifetime.
The imperial hall, named so after Wilhelm II took his visit here on the occasion of the North Sea-Baltic Canal inauguration, displays an impressive dome painting, representing commercial shipping. The walls are covered with pressed leather, and enhanced with copper fountains in the shape of small satyrs. Within the Mayor's Hall, guests are allowed to make entries in Hamburg's Golden Book. The Phoenix Hall draws its name after the phoenix painting that decorates the fireplace, which symbolizes Hamburg's rebirth from the 1842 ashes.
The debating chamber is designed rather simply and Parliament meets here every second Tuesday at 3.00 PM. The only light in the room comes from the ceiling, a feature which is meant to symbolize the ancient Germanic tradition of council meetings out in the open. The Tower Hall accommodates celebrations on special occasions and receptions, as sometimes the town hall acts as home for important guests and diplomatic visitors.
The Grand Ballroom measures 151 feet in length, 59 feet in width, and is no less than 49 feet high, and is adorned with three chandeliers of 278 bulbs and 1,500 kilograms each.
VisitingGerman tours are available from Monday through Friday, each lasting 30 minutes from 10 AM to 3 PM, Saturdays to 5 PM, and Sundays to 4 PM.
English and French tours are available only by request. Further information can be requested at 040/42831-2064 (from 9 am to 5 pm).
As the town hall is a place where certain visits and events take place, no tours can be held on the following days: 20, 21, 23-28, and 30 November; 1-5, 9, 10, 15-19, 24, 25, and 31 of December; 1, 9, 14, 15, 19-29 January.
Prices are: €4 ($4.60) for adults, €3 ($3.45) for children under 14 and groups up to 15 people, and €3 ($3.45) for citizens of Hamburg and Power Pass owners.
How to Get ThereThe town hall is located right in the inner center of the Old Town, in front of a market-square in the promenade. Behind the town hall is the Hamburg Stock Exchange. The popular Mönckebergstraße links the central station with the town hall. The Binnenalster (Jungfernstieg station) as well as the quay for the Alster ships are at the north of the town hall.
Other AttractionsThe town hall is located right on the shore of the Binnenalster lake, in the Jungferstieg area, has been a popular meeting place since the Middle Ages, where daughters used to be introduced to their betrothed. The fish market in the harbor is at a walkable distance - despite the name, you can buy mostly anything, from souvenirs to live ducks. Last but not least, you shouldn't miss a ride around the Speicherstadt, the warehouse district, either by foot or by boat, and preferably at night.
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Author: aelumag. Last updated: Jun 19, 2015