Located in northern Germany about an hour’s drive from the Wadden Sea, the city of Hamburg is not quite three hundred miles from Berlin and sits on the River Elbe and two of its tributaries: the River Alster and the River Bille. One of Germany’s federated states, it is surrounded by Schleswig-Holstein to the north and Lower Saxony to the south. The mayor’s office is more like the role of a minister-president than that of a city major. As a German state government, it is responsible for public education, correctional institutions, and public safety, as well as libraries, recreational facilities, sanitation, water supply, and welfare services.
The second-largest city in Germany, Hamburg is made up of seven boroughs that are subdivided into 104 quarters, and further broken into 181 localities. Interestingly, despite being nearly one hundred kilometers from the North Sea, Hamburg is Germany’s largest port city, the second-busiest in Europe, and the third-largest in the world after London and New York.
Hamburg is nearly surrounded on all sides by water. The River Alster has been
The city can trace its origins to 808 AD when Emperor Charlemagne ordered the construction of a castle, the first permanent building on the site. Designed to be a defense against Slavic invasion, the settlement became known as Hammaburg, burg meaning castle or fort.
Twenty-five years later Hamburg was designated as the seat of a bishopric, but two decades after that, the city was destroyed by the Vikings. Over the course of three hundred years, Hamburg was burned, raided, and occupied several times and fell victim to The Black Death in 1350.
In 1860, Hamburg adopted a semi-democratic constitution that provided for a Senate election, the separation of powers, separation of Church and State, and freedom of the press. The city was a member of the North German Confederation from 1866-1871, the German Empire from 1871-1918, and maintained its self-ruling status during the Weimar Republic (1919-1933).
During World War II, Hamburg was one of the Administrative Divisions in Nazi Germany, surrendering to British forces three days after Hitler’s death. After the war, Hamburg formed part of the British Zone of Occupation and became a state of the then Federal Republic of Germany in 1949.
Filled with a variety of architectural styles, the lavish Planten un Blomen park, more than forty theatres, sixty museums, and one hundred clubs and music venues, Hamburg hosts more than seven million annual visitors.
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