Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Hamburg
Art, History & Archaeology Sites & Museums

With origins that go back to the Stone Age, Hamburg is better known for its maritime history. A strategic location on the Elbe River as well as its political independence is what has made Hamburg an important and prosperous trading centre for centuries. As is reflected in the official name, the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. This maritime heritage is as important today for the city’s commerce as it is for tourism. In 2015 20th century offices and 19th century warehouses built on timber-pile foundations, the Kontorhausviertel and Speicherstadt respectively, were added to the UNESCO list of world heritage sites. Hamburg’s music and entertainment scene is as significant as the city’s maritime industry.

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Archaeology & History Sites & Museums in Hamburg

Archaeological Museum Hamburg

The museum was founded more than 120 years ago, then with a focus on the history of Harburg. Now drawing on a collection of around 1.5 million artefacts, the archaeology museum in Hamburg tells the story of the history of the greater Hamburg area, from prehistory to the more recent metropolitan times. It is one of the largest museums in northern Germany. The museum is known for its use of innovative display techniques to make the history of a large metropolitan area such as Hamburg accessible to children and adults.

 

Arts & Crafts Museum Hamburg

One of Europe’s most important museums showcasing the applied arts, with arts and crafts, interior design and photography from Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The museum also has important collections of ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman artefacts on display.  Over 4,000 years of applied arts are displayed in galleries spread over three floors in a building that was intended to resemble a  neo-renaissance palace. Some of the highlights include a 5th century BC krater from Apulia, Etruscan reliefs, the red Speigel Canteen and an example of the ‘New Frankfurt’ fitted kitchen.

Cap San Diego

The Cap San Diego is a general cargo ship that is now the world’s largest civil museum ship. Built in the early 1960s, the ship used to sail between Germany and South America until it was decommissioned due to the dominance of container shipping. Almost sold off for scrap, the city of Hamburg bought the ship and group of former dock workers restored the vessel to its former glory. These days the ship is mostly to be found in the port of Hamburg, when visitors are able to explore nearly all parts of the ship, from the bridge to the machine room. As a fully functional ship, the Cap San Diego often takes short trips where visitors become passengers.

MARKK - Museum of Ethnology

Founded in 1879, the Museum am Rothenbaum – Kulturen und Künste der Welt is one of the largest ethnology museums in Europe. The diverse collection has grown from a few hundred to over 350,000 archaeological and ethnographic objects, from all over the world. Highlights include artefacts from ancient Egypt, a collection of Inca gold artefacts from the Andes, and a yurt from Kyrgyzstan. The museum also hosts a programme of temporary exhibitions. Until March 2025 is the exhibition ‘Benin: Looted History’, with MARKK’s entire collection on display.

Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial

Neuengamme was the largest concentration camp in north west Germany, with a number of original features still intact. Located on the historical site of the camp, the memorial commemorates over 100,000 people who were imprisoned here. The history of the site is explored in a series of exhibitions, in four languages: German, English, French and Russian. The grounds of the camp are open at all times. A short tour of the camp takes about an hour, a longer more extensive tour takes about 2 hours.

St Michael's Church

One of the most important Baroque churches in northern Germany, St Michael’s, with its striking copper roof and brilliant white interior, is also one of Hamburg’s prominent landmarks. The first church was built in the early 1600s, but rebuilt several times, and badly damaged during WWII. Visitors can get spectacular views of the city from the observation deck on the tower, which is 132 m high and a diameter of 8 m. Many of Hamburg’s prominent figures were laid to rest in the crypt, which now serves as an exhibition space focussing on the history of the church.