Visualizing Shipping Business (and more!) in Hamburg

Hamburg (officially Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg (Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg)), is the second largest city in Germany with a population is over 1.7 million people. The city is situated on the river Elbe. Hamburg is on the southern point of the Jutland Peninsula, between Continental Europe to the south and Scandinavia to the north, with the North Sea to the west and the Baltic Sea to the north-east. It is on the River Elbe at its confluence with the Alster and Bille. The city center is around the Binnenalster (“Inner Alster”) and Außenalster (“Outer Alster”), both formed by damming the River Alster to create lakes.

The city of Hamburg is one of 16 German states, therefore the Mayor of Hamburg‘s office corresponds more to the role of a minister-president than to the one of a city mayor. As a German state government, it is responsible for public education, correctional institutions and public safety; as a municipality, it is additionally responsible for libraries, recreational facilities, sanitation, water supply and welfare services.

Since 1897, the seat of the government has been the Hamburg Rathaus, with the office of the mayor, the meeting room for the Senate and the floor for the Hamburg Parliament. The Hamburg Rathaus is a richly decorated Neo-Renaissance building finished in 1897. The tower is 112 meters (367 ft) high. Its façade, 111 m (364 ft) long, depicts the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire, since Hamburg was, as a Free Imperial City, only under the sovereignty of the emperor. The Chilehaus, a brick expressionist office building built in 1922 and designed by architect Fritz Höger, is shaped like an ocean liner.

Hamburg is made up of seven boroughs (German: Bezirke) and subdivided into 104 quarters (German: Stadtteile). There are 181 localities (German: Ortsteile). The urban organization is regulated by the Constitution of Hamburg and several laws. Most of the quarters were former independent cities, towns or villages annexed into Hamburg proper. The last large annexation was done through the Greater Hamburg Act of 1937, when the cities Altona, Harburg and Wandsbek were merged into the state of Hamburg. The Act of the Constitution and Administration of Hanseatic city of Hamburg established Hamburg as a state and a municipality.

The many streams, rivers and canals are crossed by some 2,500 bridges, more than London, Amsterdam and Venice put together. Hamburg has more bridges inside its city limits than any other city in the world and more canals than Amsterdam and Venice combined.

The Internationales Maritimes Museum Hamburg opened in the HafenCity quarter in 2008. There are various specialised museums in Hamburg, such as the Archaeological Museum Hamburg (Archäologisches Museum Hamburg) in Hamburg-Harburg, the Museum of Labour (Museum der Arbeit), and several museums of local history, for example the Kiekeberg Open Air Museum (Freilichtmuseum am Kiekeberg). Two museum ships near Landungsbrücken bear witness to the freight ship (Cap San Diego) and cargo sailing ship era (Rickmer Rickmers).


The official name reflects its history as a member of the medieval Hanseatic League, as a free imperial city of the Holy Roman Empire, a city-state, and one of the 16 states of Germany. Before the 1871 Unification of Germany, it was a fully sovereign state. Prior to the constitutional changes in 1919, the stringent civic republic was ruled by a class of hereditary grand burghers or Hanseaten.

Claudius Ptolemy (2nd century AD) reported the first name for the vicinity as Treva.

The name Hamburg comes from the first permanent building on the site, a castle which the Emperor Charlemagne ordered constructed in AD 808. It rose on rocky terrain in a marsh between the River Alster and the River Elbe as a defence against Slavic incursion, and acquired the name Hammaburg, burg meaning castle or fort. The origin of the Hamma term remains uncertain, as does the exact location of the castle.

In 1189, by imperial charter, Frederick I “Barbarossa” granted Hamburg the status of an Imperial Free City and tax-free access up the Lower Elbe into the North Sea. In 1265, an allegedly forged letter was presented to or by the Rath of Hamburg. This charter, along with Hamburg’s proximity to the main trade routes of the North Sea and Baltic Sea, quickly made it a major port in Northern Europe. Its trade alliance with Lübeck in 1241 marks the origin and core of the powerful Hanseatic League of trading cities. On 8 November 1266, a contract between Henry III and Hamburg’s traders allowed them to establish a hanse in London. This was the first time in history that the word hanse was used for the trading guild of the Hanseatic League.

The Speicherstadt was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in July 2015.

Port of Hamburg

With appr. 8.8 million standard containers (TEU) handled in 2015, Hamburg is the third largest container port in Europe and in the 18th place on the list of the world’s largest container ports. Around 10,000 ship calls per year, almost 300 berths along a total of 43 kilometers of quay walls for seagoing vessels, more than 1,100 freight trains per week, four state-of-the-art container terminals and around 50 facilities specialized in handling project shipments and bulk cargoes, along with about 7,300 logistics firms within the city limits – these are just a few of the factors making the Port of Hamburg one of the world’s most flexible, high-performance universal ports. Last year 137.8 million tons of cargo crossed the quay walls of Germany’s largest seaport.

During our extensive traveling to Hamburg in the last several years, on shipping and shipping finance business, we have been amazed by the rich culture, architecture, ambiance, and friendliness and hospitality of the people of Hamburg. But again, in all fairness, we never visited a port city we didn’t like! The open-mindless of the people, the long established traditions, the vivacity in life and, yes, the “saltiness” of the night life (they call it Reeperbahn in Hamburg!) are always heart-warming to the sailors of the world! We have been posting images of ships calling the Port of Hamburg over time to our Karatzas Photographie Maritime blog; we have collected so many more nautical and maritime-inspired images and architectural decorations from throughout Hamburg, which we decided to share here! Enjoy Hamburg!


Hamburg_St Michaelis_Rickmer Rickmers_BMK_2582 FEB2016 @

St. Michael’s Church (“Michel”) and Museum Ship ‘Rickmer Rickmers’; Image Credit: Karatzas Maritime Images.

Hamburg_Cranes Panoramic_Foggy_BMK_9690_FEB2016 @

Port of Hamburg, Containership Terminals in a chilly and foggy February day. Image Credit: Karatzas Maritime Images.

Hamburg_HeintzeHof_BMK_3040_FEB2016 @

Nautically-inspired architectural detail from Hamburg. Image Credit: Karatzas Maritime Images.

Hamburg_Hermes_BMK_3421_FEB2016 @

Shipping cannot exist without trade. Hermes (or Mercury), God of Trade. Image Credit: Karatzas Maritime Images.

Hamburg_Fluesternde Wellen_Elbhof_BMK_2011_Hamburg 2016 @

Female figures Frauenfiguren „Flüsternde Wellen“ (‘Whispering Waves’) at Kontorhaus Elbhof, Steinhöft 9, in Baumwall in Hamburg’s Neustadt. Image Credit: Karatzas Maritime images.

Stella Haus_Four Reliefs_cropped_Hamburg BMK_8915 2015 @

It’s all about ships and shipping! Image Credit: Karatzas Maritime Images.

Boat_Relief_Stella Haus_BMK_8859 2015 @

Details from the Stella Haus facade. Image Credit: Karatzas Maritime Images.

Boat_Square Sail Hamburg BMK_8889 2015 @

Details from the Stella Haus facade. Image Credit: Karatzas Maritime Images.

Boat_Square Sail_Caduceus_BMK_8863 2015 @

Details from the Stella Haus facade. Image Credit: Karatzas Maritime Images.

Boat_Square Sail_Left_Hamburg_BMK_8884 2015 @

Details from the Stella Haus facade. Image Credit: Karatzas Maritime Images.

Hamburg_Canals_BMK_3985_Feb2016 @

Two-thousand, five hundred bridges in Hamburg… Not a place to burn bridges…. Image Credit: Karatzas Maritime Images.

Hamburg_Allianz Roof_BMK_4166_FEB2016 @

Roof of the building of the Allianz Insurance Company in Trostbrücke in Hamburg. Just magnificent! Image Credit: Karatzas Maritime Images.

Hamburg_Allianz Roof_BMK_4226_FEB2016 @

Roof of the building of the Allianz Insurance Company in Trostbrücke in Hamburg. View from another angle. Image Credit: Karatzas Maritime Images.

Hamburg_Galleon Roof_Allianz_BMK_4136_FEB2016 @

Roof of the building of the Allianz Insurance Company in Trostbrücke in Hamburg. Detail. Image Credit: Karatzas Maritime Images.

Hamburg_Poseidon_Allianz_BMK_4117_FEB2016 @

Roof of the building of the Allianz Insurance Company in Trostbrücke in Hamburg. Poseidon, God of the Seas. Image Credit: Karatzas Maritime Images.

Hamburg_Steamship_Allianz Roof_BMK_4139_FEB2016 @

Roof of the building of the Allianz Insurance Company in Trostbrücke in Hamburg. Detail. Image Credit: Karatzas Maritime Images.

Hamburg_Relief_Anchor_BMK_3559_FEB2016 @

Anchoring an architectural detail. Image Credit: Karatzas Maritime Images.

Hamburg_Rathaus_partial_roof_BMK_3722_FEB2016 @

Hamburg’s Rathaus, detail. Image Credit: Karatzas Maritime Images.

Information provided herewith has mostly been extracted from the “Hamburg” entry in Wikipedia and the website of the Port of Hamburg, which hold all copyrights to the material. Copyright for all images herewith belong to Karatzas Maritime Images, 2016.


© 2013 – present Basil M Karatzas & Karatzas Marine Advisors & Co.  All Rights Reserved.

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