HafenCity, Hamburg, GermanyLast week I wrote about getting a sense of what life was like for a turn of the 20th century sailor by visiting Hamburg’s Rickmer Rickmers.

If you’re exploring the northern German city of Hamburg, it makes sense to also explore the ‘new’ district nearby – HafenCity.

Construction on this so-called ‘city within a city’ began in 2001, and is expected to be completed between 2020-2025. HafenCity began with a renovation of the old warehouses of this important port city.

HafenCity, Hamburg, GermanyThis dynamic section of the city is being built to include apartments, offices, businesses, restaurants, museums and culture centers. Although still a work-in-progress, much of the construction has been completed, and the area is well worth a wandering on your visit to Hamburg.

Modern building surround the old warehouses. In many cases, modern structures have simply been built on top of the older, dark brick warehouses.

HafenCity, Hamburg, GermanyOne excellent example of this is the new home of the Elbe Philharmonic Orchestra. The impressive new concert hall has been built over the Keispeicher, a warehouse on a quay that was built in the 1960s.

The modern glass structure that has been built on top was conceived as a “cultural lighthouse”. It is supposed to resemble a wavy seascape, and its distinctive shape is clearly visible on the city scape.

My children loved this area for a far less lofty cultural venue. They had begged me to take them to the Hamburg Dungeon (I didn’t even know about this before my trip here. For those more in the know, there is the London version as well).

HafenCity, Hamburg, GermanySince my younger son was under ten, I had to sign parental permission forms in case he might be too scared. You can imagine how much teasing he got from his older brother on that. In the end, the interactive tour was in German, so I could decide what I did and didn’t translate for him. : )

Actors depict grisly scenes of the city’s history – the Great fire, medieval torture, the cholera epidemic, Bubonic Plague, pirates, and insane asylums. The atmosphere, the dried ice and the lighting added to the spooky surroundings. There were also two rides included.

The actors were constantly calling on visitors to participate, and my oldest son wound up getting called on at least a half a dozen times.

HafenCity, Hamburg, GermanyNot speaking any German, he learned to perfect the line “Ich spreche kein Deutsch.” By the end, he almost sounded German. : )

Personally, I could easily give the Hamburg Dungeon a miss, but if you’re travelling with kids, they’re going to love it.

HafenCity, however, should not be missed on your next trip to Hamburg.

For more Hamburg tips, see my earlier posts on the St Michaelis tower  and the Planten un Blomen park .