Forty-four years after the Great Fire of 1842 razed the Altstadt, city fathers began work on their morale-booster, a monument to inspire Hamburg’s citizens and embody her phoenix-like revival. If the neo-Renaissance Rathaus oozes civic self-confidence today, it must have positively swaggered when the final stone was laid in 1897. It isn’t shy about boasting either: above a parade of German emperors are statues of the tradesmen who won the city’s prosperity; protectress Hammonia casts an imperial gaze from above the balcony; and triumphant classical figures and wreaths of plenty adorn the bases of two flagpoles crowned with gold ships. Hard to believe, then, that only four thousand oak poles prevent this bombastic pile from subsiding into the sandbank beneath. The senate and city government still dictate policy from the Rathaus’s 647 rooms, a taste of whose opulence can be seen on 45-minute guided tours. With a coffered ceiling and oversized murals of the city’s founding, the Great Hall is a knockout. At the back of the Rathaus, on Adolphsplatz, you’ll find the Börse, the current incarnation of Germany’s first stock market (1558), and a revealing symbol of mercantile priorities at the heart of government.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Germany features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Get on board: the 5 best European river cruises

Get on board: the 5 best European river cruises

Among a certain segment of travellers, cruising is sometimes maligned: the dismal buffet and watered-down cocktails. Those kitschy lounge acts. The contrived sh…

29 Mar 2016 • AnneLise Sorensen insert_drive_file Article
10 of the best European city breaks

10 of the best European city breaks

In this article sponsored by Scenic Australia, Emma Gibbs picks 10 of the best city breaks across Europe. Europe is so crammed full of fascinating, vibrant c…

01 Dec 2015 • Emma Gibbs insert_drive_file Article
Discover Berlin's biggest bathtub: the Baltic Sea

Discover Berlin's biggest bathtub: the Baltic Sea

Carved balconies like lace, swaggering villas in spacious gardens and an absurdly long pier. Who would have expected “Herring Village” to be so glitzy? I…

08 Oct 2015 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month