When you think of Hamburg, you also think of water. Situated on the Elbe, embedded in the harbour and surrounding the Alster; water can be found everywhere in this beautiful Hanseatic city. I would like to tell you a little bit about the city on the waterfront; about the peculiarities of the waters, about the different characteristics and about some maybe still unknown fun facts. Because one thing is for sure: water is not the same as water, especially not in Hamburg. And by the way: “Everything south of the Elbe is northern Italy” 😉 (that´s what they say…)
The famous and impressive Köhlbrand Bridge, which crosses the port, is located on the Elbe, below it the old and new Elbe tunnel, the Elbe beach in Övelgönne, the Blankeneser Treppenviertel, the newly created Hafencity with its offices, restaurants and residential buildings and the heart of the Elbe Philharmonic Hall, the U- and S-Bahn station Elbbrücken, which opened in 2019, reflects the modern life of this new district. Life on the Elbe is both rough and classy. During heavy storms the famous fish market is often under water, while in summer the overcrowded Elbe beaches makes you think of a holiday in Italy.
And then there is the other body of water of the Hanseatic city, the Alster. Whereby in the inner-city area one speaks of the Alstersee, consisting of the inner and outer Alster. The Alster itself is a 35 m long tributary of the Elbe. Hamburg’s citizens like to stroll and jog along the Alster every day. Here you see bikers, promenaders, runners, hikers, dogs, the Hamburg double-decker, tourist buses, Alster steamers, sailors, pedal boats, SUPlers… But please do not mix the different groups, the Hamburg resident does not like that, especially not on the Alster.
Speaking of the Elbe and Alster: a somewhat unusual custom passed on to young parents by Hamburg midwives is to throw their baby’s navel into one of the two Hamburg waterways. Whoever chooses the Alster, their child is associated with the custom according to civil servants and supposed to be very closely tied to Hamburg. Throwing the navel into the Elbe is supposed to lead to the child later travelling into the world and being welcome there.
This is all Hamburg and all this is dominated by the breathtaking element water. Here we inevitably think of the Hamburg poetry slammer Kathrin Weßling with her saying “Hamburger Wasser kann so schön sein, wenn es einmal einmal einmal nicht von oben kommt” (“Hamburg water can be so beautiful if for once it doesn’t come from above”) so true, so true… In Hamburg it rains 133 days a year.
“Across seven bridges you shall go…”
Hamburg is crossed by numerous large and small bridges, some say the “most beautiful city in the world” has more bridges than Amsterdam and Venice together. But here, there is a wide definition concerning the word bridge, so that an exact number cannot really be named. Of course, as in many other cities, the so-called lovelocks can also be found here.
Now I come to a slightly different aspect of the Hamburger Wasser, and that is that I would like to introduce you to Hans Hummel. To whom are you asking? The water bearer Hans Hummel is a Hamburg symbolic figure and had the civil name Johann Wilhelm Bentz. He lived in Hamburg from 1787 to 1854 and worked as a water carrier in the district of Neustadt, drawing his water from the fountain at Gänsemarkt. At work he was often teased by the children of the Neustadt, who, according to tradition, called after him “Hummel Hummel”. His answer was a simple “Mors Mors”, in Low German for “ass”. In long form that should probably mean “Klei di an’n Mors”, which roughly means “scratch your ass”. Even today the exclamation is still used as a greeting among hamburgers, with one side shouting “Hummel Hummel” and the other side responding “Mors Mors”.
In the new town, at the crossing Rademachergang/Breiter Gang, you will find a statue of the water bearer and not far away also a figure representing one of the smirking children, who stretches his naked bottom towards the water bearer. Several figures of the water bearer have been erected throughout Hamburg city centre and a red line on the street guides you through the Neustadt. This is the so-called “Hummel Bummel”, which provides interesting information and facts about the buildings and streets of the quarter where the water bearer used to do his work.
MyCityHighlight in Hamburg
So have you become curious about the waters of Hamburg, the water bearer Hans Hummel and the Hanseats? Off you go to the beautiful city with Reeperbahn and harbour. MyCityHighlight Europe GmbH has its creative headquarters in Hamburg. Detective-Trails and Crime-Trails are designed from the Schanzenviertel. In the city itself, you may “go for a riddle” in Hafencity and Speicherstadt, the Karolinenviertel and around the Kiez.And at the latest after that also you will speak of: Hamburg meine Perle