UNESCO World Heritage
What does the Taj Mahal in India, the Peruvian Inka city of Machu Picchu and the Great Pyramids of Giza have in common with Hamburg? They all belong to the UNESCO World Heritage Site. On 5 July 2015, the Hamburg ensemble ‘Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus District with Chilehaus’ has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List, making it one of the world’s 1.031 ‘masterpieces of human creation with outstanding universal value’.
Everybody who has visited Hamburg is enthusiastic about its elegant flair and maritime charm. Whether Elbe, Alster, HafenCity (PortCity) or Reeperbahn: something new can be discovered every day. However, at present the city is looking back, because the historic Speicherstadt, together with the neighbouring Kontorhaus District and Chilehaus, were added to UNESCO’s list of world cultural heritage sites in July 2015. The second-biggest city in Germany not only offers arts and entertainment, a great variety of upscale hotels and restaurants, excellent shopping and an exciting night life, but above all loads of historical landmarks. Here in Hamburg tradition and modern living blend to create an atmosphere unlike any other in the world.
Outstanding universal value
Fascinating architecture, the historic design and two districts full of life – this is what Hamburg’s World Heritage Site stands for. The cultural-historical significance of the Speicherstadt and the Kontorhaus district, particularly the legendary Chilehaus, lies in the fact that they document the changes in a special urban development. By the end of the 19th century the city centre developed into various service quarters, consequently displacing the residential population from large swathes: The Speicherstadt witnessed a rapid expansion and became the international centre of trade, while a few meters further to the east, the first office buildings were erected - the so-called Kontorhäuser, which were important for port-related infrastructure. In short: the modern city was born. The UNESCO honors those two districts for outstanding universal value, which have largely retained its form and design in terms of building materials and substance until today.
A must see!
Everyone that is eager to get to know the city of Hamburg needs to experience the Speicherstadt – the core centre of the maritime metropolis. Between 1885 and 1927 the warehouse complex was constructed as the largest and most modern logistics centre of its time with cobbled streets, waterways, bridges and railway connections. It consists of 15 five- to seven-storey warehouses and a series of individual buildings, the vast majority of which are constructed in the prestigious red brick Neo-Gothic architectural forms. The Speicherstadt and its detailed clinker facades are best explored by foot or by water. In 1883 the warehouses were erected completely on oak piles as part of Hamburg’s free port for storing imported goods duty-free to refine and process them. Where once coffee, tea and spices could be found today mainly electronic goods and carpets are stored. Moreover, the Speicherstadt became a hotspot for creative minds: Large advertising and PR agencies are here located along with showrooms for small designers or training rooms for the musical stars of tomorrow. On top of that, the Speicherstadt boasts with various museums, offering a unique cultural experience. The brick Gothic still exudes the aroma of the great wide world: excellent manufacture stores have been established, offering coffee, tea or chocolate.
Hamburg – a city of culture
Build in 1922 as one of the first skyscrapers in Hamburg, Fritz Höger’s Chilehaus with its eastern tip recalling the prow of a ship and the characteristic detail of its facades was already recognized as a nationally known attraction at that time. Today it is regarded as an iconic work of architectural expressionism, which no standard work of reference on 20th century architecture fails to mention. The 10-storey building is constructed on a reinforced concrete frame and the outer walls were made of the typical dark-red to violet fired clinker bricks that are characteristic of the brick expressionist style. By exploiting the construction possibilities offered by reinforced concrete, and combining them with traditional brickwork, about 4.8 million bricks were processed - by hand! With virtually unsurpassable virtuoso design and craftsmanship, Höger created a modern style of brick office-building architecture, the like of which the world had never seen. Inside, the building provided flexibility with the division of floor space, and could therefore be adapted to the needs of different users. The name Chilehaus is based on the client and entrepreneur Henry B. Solman who had once made 60 million deutschmarks with the trade of saltpetre from Chile. Just like the Speicherstadt the Kontorhaus District is nowadays an area to live, work, explore and enjoy – a meeting place for both Hamburgers and tourists.
The aim of the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) is to preserve human cultural achievements and natural phenomena in the world that are unique and worth protecting. To be included on the World Heritage List, sites must be of outstanding universal value for historic, creative and scientific reasons and meet at least one out of the ten strict selection criteria. General criteria for selection are the respective uniqueness, authenticity and integrity. More than 1000 World Heritage Sites on all continents are important testimonies to human history. By adding the historic Speicherstadt and the neighbouring Kontorhaus District and Chilehaus to UNESCO’s list of world cultural heritage sites, Hamburg achieved the UNESCO label for the first time, bringing Germany its 40th World Heritage Site alongside others such as the Cologne Cathedral, the Wadden Sea or Berlin’s Museum Island.
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