Throwback to Hamburg

Last year I visited Hamburg over the King’s Day long weekend. It was a very cool city, I enjoyed myself very much and I recently found myself missing it. Hence, I went through my catalogue of photos from last year and edited some of those I hadn’t touched, in a bid to relive my experience there.

Let’s first be clear about one thing: Hamburg is basically made for architectural photography.

There are so many buildings with character standing around that it’s impossible to walk around the city without admiring – however fleetingly – their design. Even with structures made out of brick, if you look carefully you’ll find plenty of details in the brickwork.

Interesting brickwork on a building with white windows in Hamburg.

If I’ll be honest, I sometimes find brick buildings boring. (I even wrote this in my previous post about Hamburg, I just realised.) There are many of them in the Netherlands and it can feel like they’re all the same thing. But bricks can be made into something interesting as the Chilehaus wonderfully demonstrates.

Frontal view of the Chilehaus in Hamburg.

Probably the best part of Hamburg for me is the HafenCity. Despite being modernised and repurposed, this area still retains its maritime and industrial heritage. Its crowning jewel, of course, has to be the Elbphilharmonie concert hall. Built atop a warehouse and finished seven years late at ten times the original price, I imagine it’ll soon be synonymous with the city of Hamburg (if it isn’t already) – much like Sydney and its opera house.

People standing on balcony of plaza at Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg.

It’s worth exploring the areas around the Elbphilharmonie, too.

Staircase and bridge leading from an above-ground U-Bahn station near the Elbphilharmonie.
Bridge leading to the entrance of an office building in the vicinity of the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg.

The rest of the HafenCity offers many photography opportunities, although why I didn’t make more photos of this area myself I will never know. I have the following two images, at least.

Giant lamps hanging over the platform of the HafenCity University metro station in Hamburg.

I rather like the dramatic clouds in this photo. Unfortunately it is slightly ruined by the moiré that arose from the interplay of the metal mesh panels in different orientations. This was baked into the sensor at the time of my making the photo and so I couldn’t get rid of it during post-processing. Shame.

Wide staircase leading to the entrance level of a HafenCity University building in Hamburg.

Finally, what would be a trip to Hamburg without a ferry cruise around the harbour area? Here’s a tip: taking a ferry in Hamburg doesn’t need to be expensive. In fact, it can be as cheap as the price of a day ticket on the HVV public transportation network, because the network has its own ferries that ply the harbour route.

I took line 62 and had a lovely hour-long tour of the harbour. It might be a good idea to take the ferries either early in the morning or late in the afternoon, because I’ve read they can be crowded when the weather is good. Also consider having a jacket on hand if you plan to sit in the outside area.

Cranes in the port of Hamburg in background, with Elbe in foreground and a ferry entering the frame from the right.
Dockland office building with people enjoying an evening view from the rooftop.

Hamburg was great! It was so much fun that I’ve decided to go back this August. This time round I plan to spend much more time in the HafenCity and explore the St. Pauli quarter in greater detail.


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