These 5 Hamburg anecdotes never fail in Hamburg

1) The oldest building in the city is in the North Sea

A popular hit: Hamburg’s oldest building is 100 kilometres out of town – on an island. 138 steps take you to the top of the lighthouse and the Turmschenke pub on Insel Neuwerk, which is part of the city of Hamburg. Its entire three square kilometres of landscape then burst into view. Previous occupants had sought to protect themselves from pirates and robbers with a fortified tower in the year 1310.

2) Hamburg's overground underground

Another bar-counter classic: Hamburg’s U-Bahn is more like an elevated railway. The Hamburger Hochbahn AG company decided to build most of the underground railway network above ground for cost reasons. Almost 61 kilometres run on the surface and 35 underground.

3) Never offend a swan (particularly on the Alster)

Many Hamburg locals love to stand on the bank of the Alster and quietly whisper “asshole”. Because under the order ‘that no one may offend a swan’ of 1664, there’s a penalty for insulting the birds – in the presence of witnesses, at least.

4) Europe's bridge capital

Who takes the lead in building bridges? Venice, Amsterdam, Stockholm? No, Hamburg’s got more than the three of them put together: 2500, according to the Statistical Office of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein. Any structure that’s two metres above the ground when suspended between two carriers, counts as a bridge. That includes the supports for Hamburg’s motorway traffic signs.

5) The biggest clock in Germany

The biggest little hand on a bell-tower clock in Germany is on the Hauptkirche St. Michaelis (‘Michel’ for short), just below the viewing platform. It measures all of 3,60 metres. The big hands of the four clock faces that tell the time on every side of the bell tower, are just under five metres in length, and the face is eight metres in diameter overall.

Buy the book

The 500 Hidden Secrets of Hamburg reveals off-the-beaten-track places and interesting details for anyone who's keen to explore Hamburg's best-kept secrets.

Go to bookshop

Join the community

Sign up for free to gain unlimited access to the website. Plus, you'll receive a 10% discount in our online bookshop.

Sign up