Hamburg's historic port connects the international community to everything Germany has to offer -- magnificent architecture, leisure activities and musical history. Here are five spots to see if you're visiting Hamburg.
Port of Hamburg
The port of Hamburg is Germany's largest port and the continent's second-busiest, after the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Without question, the harbor is the heart of the city and a must-see location. A stroll along the gritty and industrial harbor promenade will reveal years of history connecting Germany with the world. The St. Pauli Landungsbrücken (the floating piers) are landing bridges for boats and major tourist attractions. For good reason, the port is known as Germany's "Gateway to the World."
The Altstadt, or the Old City, is the older quarter in Hamburg. The beautifully preserved buildings of the Altstadt include Chilehaus and the Kontor Häuser. Built in the 17th century, Krameramtswohnungen is an idyllic assortment of small, half-timbered houses that function as shops, offices and apartments. This quarter is home to the St. Michaelis Church, which is the most important baroque church in northern Germany. In the Altstadt, you can also find the city's historic Jewish cemetery, which dates back to 1611.
Zoo and parks
At Tierpark Hagenbeck, or Hagenbecks Zoo, you can feed giraffes and elephants or ride camels. With monkeys, tigers and more, this famous zoo provides plenty to see for the animal lover in your family. Back in 1907, Carl Hagenbeck used moats, shrubbery and artificial rocks rather than steel cages to keep animals in this zoo -- an innovative approach to recreate the animals' natural environments. Hamburg also has gorgeous leisure areas and parks, such as Planten un Blomen and Stadtpark.
Before becoming the most critically acclaimed and influential band in the history of rock and roll, the Beatles were a ragtag gang developing their act in Hamburg. The Fab Four played for hours night after night, crafting their performance into what would become a phenomenon. Here, the Beatles befriended German photographer Astrid Kirchherr, who captured now-iconic images of the band, and she was central to the group's adoption of the famous "mop-top" hairstyle. This historic period in rock--as well as the rest of the group's illustrious career--is celebrated at the museum Beatlemania, which opened in 2009.
Near the museum, the city of Hamburg dedicated a plaza in the St. Pauli quarter to the Beatles, named Beatles-Platz (Beatles Square). The area is designed to resemble a giant vinyl record -- 29 meters in diameter. Five stainless steel statues represent the Beatles: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe (original bass player) and a hybrid statue of Ringo Starr/Pete Best (original drummer). You can also take a guided tour of all the historic Beatles' locations.