Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Hamburg - Rathaus (City Hall)

Date: 13th October 2015

There are 16 states and 2,060 towns and cities in Germany. Hamburg was the second city that I visited and I hope to reach many more in the future. Hamburg is a state itself, hence there's only 1 city, i.e. the Hamburg city. It is the 2nd biggest city in Germany that has more than 17 million peoples living in the state. We visited quite a numerous Rathaus or city hall during our 2nd leg last year. I was forgotten about it until we passed by the Rathausmark (City Hall Square) where the Hamburg City Hall look so stunning when the lights are about to set off. 

Hamburg Rathaus is the city hall or town hall of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, Germany. It is the seat of the government of Hamburg and as such, the seat of one of Germany's 16 state parliaments. The Rathaus is located in the Altstadt quarter in the city center, near the lake Binnenalster and the central station. Constructed from 1886 to 1897, the city hall still houses its original governmental functions with the office of the First Mayor of Hamburg and the meeting rooms for Hamburg's parliament and senate (the city's executive).

An entrance to the Restaurant Ratsweinkeller from the lobby hall

After the old city hall was destroyed in the great fire of 1842, it took almost 44 years to build a new one. The present building was designed by a group of 7 architects, led by Martin Haller. Construction commenced in 1886 and the new city hall was inaugurated in 1897. Its cost was 11 million German gold marks, about EUR80 million in those days. It was built in a period of wealth and prosperity, in which the Kingdom of Prussia and its confederates defeated France in the Franco-German War and the German Empire was formed, the look of the new Hamburg Rathaus should express this wealth and also the independence of the State of Hamburg and Hamburg's republican traditions. On October 26, 1897 at the official opening ceremony the First Mayor Dr. Johannes Versmann received the key of the city hall.

In the postwar period, various heads of state visited Hamburg and its City Hall, among others are Emperor Haile Selassie I, the Shahanshah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi in 1955, and in 1965 Queen Elizabeth II. An emotionally moving service of remembrance was held on the market square @ Rathausmark for the victims of the North Sea flood of 1962. Happier moments were the celebrations of Hamburger SV as German football champions, the last time though in 1983.

There are 647 rooms in this large building. However, in 1971 a room in the tower was only discovered accidentally during a search for a document fallen behind a filing cabinet. So there is a probability that there are even more rooms than the currently counted.

On the outside the architectural style is neo-renaissance, which is abandoned inside for several historical elements. It is one of the few completely preserved buildings of historicism in Hamburg. The city hall has a total area of 17,000 m2 excluding the restaurant Ratsweinkeller, occupying an area of 2,900 m2. The tower is 112 metres high which has 436 steps. Visitors are allowed to climb them under city hall tour guide. The city hall of Hamburg has 647 rooms, 6 rooms more than Buckingham Palace. The building area is measured as 5,400 m2 altogether.

The balcony is surmounted by a mosaic of Hamburg's patron goddess Hammonia, the city's coat of arms and an inscription of the city's Latin motto "Libertatem quam peperere maiores digne studeat servare posteritas." translated in English as "The freedom won by our elders, may posterity strive to preserve it". The courtyard is decorated with a Hygieia fountain. Hygieia as the goddess of health in Greek mythology and its surrounding figures represents the power and pureness of the water. It was built in remembrance of the cholera epidemic in 1892, the former technical purpose was air cooling in the city hall. 2 photos below are the previous mayor that served the city engrave in a gigantic marble column, simply stunning work of arts.

The lobby is a public area used for concerts and exhibitions. It is open to the public. The emperor's hall in the first floor is the second-largest representation hall, named after Wilhelm II and functions as a room for official presentations. The mayor's hall was planned as a small meeting room. As of 2008, the entry in the city's Golden Book take place includes by many dignitaries such as the former German President Paul von Hindenburg and the Dalai Lama. In the left wing is the floor of the Hamburg Parliament. The 121 representatives meet in a room that was renovated during Nazi Germany. Only three fields on the ceiling shows its original decoration.

We both cant help but mesmerizing the whole scenarios of what we were able to see at the lobby. This grandeur and expensive looking from the external has given us a goosebumps whenever we running through our fingers onto its giant column, taking steps on its grandeur staircase touching the metal railing. We were truly blessed being able to visit on the last minutes left before the hall is closed for business.  A feeling of being inside still lingers and hold a special place in my heart. Therefore, pardon me if I want to share 2 more photos before I end this entry.

Remarks: Source from Wikipedia
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