In the northeast part of the Hamburg Harbor lies the Speicherstadt, or “warehouse city,” an area of renovated warehouses filled with cafés, museums and luxury loft apartments. The world's largest warehouse complex is characterized by large red brick buildings designed in gothic style, with green gables, bay windows and towers that are reflected in the many canals crisscrossing the district.
The Speicherstadt was designated as a monument to the city’s past in 1991. The district was officially opened in 1888, although construction began earlier, and was used as a free port where goods could be transferred without paying customs duties. Before that it was a residential area for port workers and artisans who were forced to move when the construction of the warehouses began.
The buildings were used to store high-value goods such as coffee, tea, cocoa, spices and tobacco. Today much of the warehouse district is used for the trade of oriental rugs. Many cafés, restaurants, art studios, museums and tourist attractions occupy the warehouses today. Visit the Hamburg Dungeon and Miniatur Wunderland.
Take a stroll around the area in the evening when it has its most dynamic atmosphere. Buildings and bridges are lit by soft lighting that’s reflected in the canals. Diners swarm to the restaurants and bars. During the day, explore the district by boat. When the tide is high, smaller launches navigate the narrow canals and offer a view of the buildings’ architectural details from another angle. Boats mostly depart from the jetties in St. Pauli, where you can buy tickets on the day of travel.
Speicherstadt was the first step in the large HafenCity Hamburg city planning project, which sees the city’s old port warehouses reconstructed and replaced with modern offices, hotels, shops and apartments. Explore the rest of the HafenCity easily from the Speicherstadt, including the Elbe Philharmonic Hall, a short walk away. The warehouse district is a short walk from the main harbor or from Baumwall U-bahn station. The district is free to enter and open at all hours.