It's a kind of magic
When you ask a Hamburg local, what’s so special about the historical warehouse district, the Speicherstadt, they’ll often say “the light”. That sounds a bit peculiar until you’ve actually immersed yourself in this unique world - and at best at night when the sun is setting. For it bathes the brick buildings in a golden light and breaks on the water of the canals that traverse this quarter creating a most extraordinary atmosphere. But it isn’t only your eyes that are in for a treat: the squawking seagulls serve up a portion of wanderlust and the old walls imbued with the scent of spices and cocoa sweep you away to the days of trading with remote, exotic countries.
Initially in 1883, for the Speicherstadt to grow and thrive many people had to leave their homes. Nearly 20,000 dockworkers and their families were reallocated to make way for the warehouses, which can still be admired here today. The reason: Hamburg had been integrated into the so-called “Reich’s Customs Free Territory” and in order to be able to store wares until they could be sold further, the city needed space. Row for row the warehouses were practically built overnight, many of which were lovingly adorned with bay windows, little towers and pinnacles. The goods were transported along the narrow waterways to the buildings and then hoisted inside through the hatches: coffee and tea, rubber and tobacco, carpets from the Orient and many other treasures could be found there. Today the Speicherstadt is protected as a historical monument and belongs to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage.
Facts and figures:
- Largest connected monument ensemble in Hamburg
- Since 1991 under monumental protection
- Since 2015 UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Built between 1883 and 1927
- The storage facilities stand on around 3.5 million wooden piles with a depth of up to 12 meters.
Should you like to experience the fascination of the Speicherstadt, walking around is the best option. A stroll along the streets Alter Wandrahm, Zollstraße, Neuer Wandrahm and Brook to Kehrwieder offers a number of exciting attractions. These include the Customs Museum with interesting insights into smuggling.
Further along is “Dialog in the Dark”. A unique exhibition in which the blind guide their guests through a world of smells, temperatures and sounds.
At Kehrwieder 2 your inner child jumps for joy: Miniatur Wunderland is the largest model train exhibition in the world with amazing 12 kilometers of train tracks. And once you railway enthusiasts are able to finally tear yourselves away, you can continue on in the direction of Kehrwiederspitze and then onto Sandtorkai.
To top it all off there is one final sight no one who has visited the Speicherstadt will ever forget: the light installation, that illuminates the old warehouses after dusk when 800 spotlights immerse the red brick buildings in a magical shimmer...