One of the hidden tourist attractions from Hamburg is the Hygiea Fountain. Those who visit the City Hall get so stunned by this amazing city attraction, that don’t realize there’s a side door. It’s the way to an internal patio, where the Hygiea Fountain is placed.
I don’t know if it’s the greenish color of the patina over bronze, or if it’s the beautiful story behind the work of art, but it’s a fact that I always get amazed by this beautiful fountain.
The monument, which became a tourist attraction in Hamburg, was built in 1895/96 by sculptor Joseph von Kramer, to celebrate the end of a cholera epidemic that devasted the city in 1892, causing over 8,000 deaths.
The fountain has three levels and, on top, the statue of the goddess Hygiea is located (Hygieia, in German), which names the fountain. In Greek Mythology, Hygiea is the goddess of health, cleanliness and salubriousness. It’s from the name that comes the word ‘hygiene’.
Initially, the idea was to represent Mercury, from the Roman mythology (Hermes, in Greek mythology) on top of the fountain, in honor of the merchants in town. But, with the end of the big cholera epidemy, it was decided they would change the initial idea for the Hygiea figure over a dragon (cholera) to her feet, clearly symbolizing the victory over the illness. The water that comes from the tray in Hygiea’s hand represents the healing and cleansing power of this element.
The images you see on the fountain borders symbolize the different connections from Hamburg to water, through the representation of mythological creatures, such as the faun holding a shell.
When you visit the patio, try to discover the New York Army crest somewhere in the façade!
Come meet Hamburg with us, in our guided tours!
It’s a lot more interesting getting to know a city as a traveler, finding its History out and the facts of each place, rather than just pass by them and check-in. 😉