Hamburg

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It may be an industrial and economic center now, but it started out as a fort, which is what 'burg' means. Built by Charlemagne to defend against Slavic invasions in 808, it was the first construction on this territory. Its original name was 'Hamma burg.' Etymologists have not reached a conclusion about the meaning of Hamma, but there is evidence that there was a Hamma forest in the vicinity.

Hamburg became a diocese in 834. In 845, the Vikings sacked the city, which had a population of only 500 at that time. Two years later, the diocese united Hamburg and Bremen. The Polish King destroyed Hamburg in 1030, and the bishopric ultimately shifted to Bremen after Slavs invaded the territory recurrently in later years. Being located in the vicinity of the North and Baltic Seas, it was soon established as a major port. Lutheranism was adopted here in 1520, and Protestant refugees flocked to Hamburg. The city came under French rule in 1810, but it was quickly recovered after 1850. Its population quadrupled, reaching 800,000. This was a result of its successful marine trade, rendering it the third-largest port in Europe.

Hamburg suffered damages from fire many times, the biggest of which were in 1284 and 1842. By far, the worst damage was from air raids during WWII. Very few buildings survive from before 1945, and almost none from before 1842. Germany triumphed over Coventry on November 14, 1940, and the Allied Forces retaliated by bombing Hamburg two days later. The British bombed the city again on July 28, 1943, killing 42,000 Germans. The death toll was at least 50,000 in this city alone by the end of the war.

However, Hamburg experienced a revival in the 1960s, when the population rose to 1.85 million. In the present day, suburban regions are the focus of development. Hamburg Harbor, an attraction and historical landmark, is still the definitive feature of the city. The city assembly is the equivalent of the parliament in Hamburg, and its members are elected every four years. The official language here is German. Sometimes you can hear Low German, a local variety.

Understandably, the harbor constitutes the foundation of the economy in Hamburg, as it has for many centuries. It is the second-largest European port, having shipped 7 million containers as well as 115 million tons of stock in 2004. However, shipping is not the only industry here, as the media, music, Internet, steel and aluminum are all well-developed sectors. Half of the printed media sources in Germany are published here. A consortium of shipbuilders, Blohm + Voss, has its head office in Hamburg, and Lurssen Werft (shipyard) GmbH is situated in nearby Bremen.

Hamburg's sister cities are Chicago, Leon (Nicaragua), Marseille (France), Osaka (Japan), Prague and St. Petersburg. There are many wonderful landmarks and attractions to visit. The two most important museums are the Art Gallery and the Museum of Labor, and there are others, as well. The most appropriate time to visit the city is in the summer, when the weather is ideal. Tourists are always taken to city hall and Michel Church by special buses. You shouldn't miss a boat tour from the harbor, either. As far as food is concerned, the hamburger is not a native dish! It was only named after this city. Original dishes include green beans with bacon, fried potatoes, fried fish, red berry pudding and aalsuppe, or 'all soup,' a soup containing all possible ingredients.