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Hamburg City Hall, the Rathaus

One of the most impressive landscapes from Hamburg is, definitely, the building of the Hamburg City Hall (Rathaus). After the big fire of 1842, a good part of the ancient downtown Hamburg had to be rebuilt, including the old City Hall, which was imploded so that the flames – that were burning the city for days – would finally stop. And, since a building was needed, why not make it bigger and in a wider spot? After 40 years of planning, when several times the project came to a stop due to revolutions, disputes and a cholera epidemy, in 1886 the construction of the new City Hall began in the place where the old convent Johanniskloster stood since 1230.

City Hall (Rathaus) seen from Rathausmarkt square

The construction of the Hamburg City Hall

In the construction of the new Hamburg City Hall, over 11 million German golden mark, which, for the time, was a fabulous amount of money. The idea was to recover the city’s self-esteem after the great fire and the cholera, showing its citizens and visitors all its power and economical strength.

Due to the conditions of the swampy land, very similar to the Venice one, before the construction began, 4,000 tree trunks were installed on the floor to sustain the Rathaus. This technique is necessary since, without this support, the buildings in lands like this tend to slightly sink with time.

Incredibly, the same tree trunks still form the foundations of the building, with its 112m tall (with the tower), 112m long, 78m deep and 17,000m² in its total area.

Inner courtyard of City Hall

The Hamburg City Hall today

Since it’s a state-city (one of the only three in Germany), Hamburg concentrates in its City Hall the Parliament (the City government), the Senate (the State government) and the mayor’s office.

The City Hall also has 647 bedrooms, six more than the Buckingham Palace, according to official data.

Until 1971, the official account was of 646 bedrooms. However, a simple lapse of an employee, as he dropped a folder behind a closet, revealed an unknown room so far. Because of that, there is speculation that other rooms may still be found.

Guided tours

In our tours, we give a lot more details and stories of this amazing building, as we walk through some of its amazing rooms.

Besides the guided tours with us, it’s also possible to make tours through the City Hall with no previous booking. However, it’s important to take a look at the City Hall’s website so you know what time the guided tours are. As a rule, the tours in German are from Monday to Friday, from 10 a.m. to 3p.m.; on Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sundays, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., every 30 minutes.

The time of the tours in English and in French are only under consultation through the phone.

The fountain of Hygia, located in the inner courtyard of the prefecture

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