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With a population of approximately 1¾ million, Hamburg is Germany's second largest city and it's most important centre of commerce. Officially known as the 'Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, it is also a state and lies in the Northwest of the country. Hamburg has one of the largest seaports on the European continent. The city is situated on the Elbe River some 68 miles from it's mouth, where it flows into the North Sea. The Alster River also flows through the city forming two large lakes, the Binnenalster and the Aussenalster, and these make for a beautiful addition to the cityscape. As well as the rivers and lakes, Hamburg has a fine network of several hundred canals and large areas of parkland.

Above: Panoramic Stitch Photo of Central Hamburg.

In the 13th century, Hamburg was a leading member of the Hanseatic League, and during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was a state in the German Empire and the Weimar Republic. During the Second World War (1939-1945), Hamburg was one of the most heavily bombed cities in Germany with large parts of it's port and commercial areas destroyed. A large number of fine residential properties and old churches were either badly damaged or obliterated. In the post-war years, the port and commercial areas were rebuilt and many buildings in the city which were also rebuilt or reconstructed after the War were done so, alongside modern architecture, in order to give the central area the attractive appearance that is seen today.

The city attracts a large number of tourists both from Germany and internationally. Notable buildings include the Town Hall (Rathaus), the 18th century St Michael's Church, the new opera house, the University of Hamburg and a number of museums. Shown in several photos in the thumbnail gallery above is the Speicherstadt ('City of Warehouses'), or warehouse district. This is the largest such district found anywhere in the world where the buildings stand on timber-pile foundations. Built as a free-zone from 1883 to 1927, the district was created for the transfer of goods without paying customs. The area has undergone redevelopment in recent years and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Hamburg is a centre of political activities and also boasts a wide variety of cultural and musical events which attract many visitors. It is also home to a number of German Businesses and many international corporations are represented here, including the aircraft manufacturing giant, Airbus, who have multiple sites from design to production and a final assembly line here. Other industries in Hamburg include shipbuilding, engineering, metal-works and food processing. The port of Hamburg running along the Elbe River is a centre for foreign and domestic shipping and the city is also one of the country's main centres for rail transportation. A large amount of Germany's manufacturing output for the export market passes through here and this includes chemicals, machinery, vehicles and electrical goods. Imported goods include food and tobacco. The city is also one of the leading German media centres (the newspaper Die Zeit and the news magazine Der Spiegel are published here).

External Links for Further Reading:

1. The official website of the city of Hamburg may be found Here
2. Hamburg on Wikipedia Here
3. Hamburg on the Lonely Planet Website Here
4. Speicherstadt on the UNESCO Website Here