I crossed one of the many bridges erected over the Elbe River, a navigable river with enough width to enable large merchant ships or medium-sized vessels. The setting was utterly fascinating and the Elbe Philharmonic Hall was in my field of view. This building still under construction, built on top of an old coffee warehouse was designed by the prestigious architectural firm of Herzog and de Meuron. It is surrounded by majestic red-brick buildings: hotels, theatres, cafés, restaurants, bars, shops and offices, separated by channels and connected by small bridges, forming a sheltered harbour. Hafen City, the new face of Hamburg, an urban project developed in 2000 and that is expected to be completed by 2015.
Up ahead, in the distance I was able to see the five largest Lutheran churches of Hamburg: St. Nicholas, St. Michaelis, St. Catherine, St. James and St. Peter. Firstly I went to St. Catherine’s Church but I did not venture inside because it was being repaired. However, the peculiarity, the charm and character of this church lies in the base of its spire, dating from the 13th century.
Nearby is the neo-Gothic church of St. Nicholas, cracked and wounded. This church was bombed during the World War II and it has been preserved in its ruined state as a memorial of the victims of war and persecution. However, even nowadays St. Nicholas is capable of emitting from its depth a hellacious pulse of life through a 51-bell carillon whose melodious excellence with its breathtaking range of chords moves the listeners to the unheard realm of solemn classical music. Outside the church stands as a symbol of hope, “The angel on Earth”, a beautiful bronze statue by the Hamburg artist Edith Breckwoldt, personified by a female figure that opens her arms to the sky and has the body full of hands of different sizes in a clear allusion: “Come, that I will guide you!”
Later I went to St. Michaelis, an allegorical building, built in brick, whose tower, restored several times, is characterized by its sobriety and its dark color. Its famous clock tower is the largest in the country. Surprises, its pure white interior, adorned with gold embroidery on the columns and in the proscenium boxes, very similar to those of a classical theater. There is also a striking statue of Martin Luther outside the church.
In the afternoon I went to the heart of the city and walked through the narrow commercial corridors. In the surrounding streets I stumbled upon and almost without noticing passed by the St. James church, modest, unnoticed and camouflaged with the environment in chromaticism and texture.
Finally, I visited St. Peter, solemn and elegant. My eyes were immediately drawn to a display in this church, erect, important, but also close and accessible to the visitors of Hamburg. And in the middle of the hustle and bustle, and a few steps from St. Peter I found the City Hall, the starting point for my next itinerary…
Would you like to visit Hamburg?