Eight questions for…

Lydia Struck, cultural anthropologist on the board of directors at the Speicherstadt Museum

When I visit the World Heritage Site of Hamburg, what should I definitely not miss?

Being located on the water, and with its many bridges and splendid red-brick buildings, the World Heritage Site of Hamburg is always worth a stroll. A visit to the Speicherstadt is rewarding, as you get to experience the history of this unique warehouse district first hand. And to round off the experience you can call by the carpet warehouse museum, the coffee roasting house or visit exhibitions and cafés in the adjacent Kontorhaus district with the Chilehaus.

What do you particularly like here?

How very friendly people are here, maybe because it's on an island. It's a place where work and free time are interwoven, which always leads to new encounters. The links from the inner city to the Speicherstadt and the HafenCity, with their contrasts of old and new, are always fascinating. And one of the many harbor cruises offers pure relaxation.

Do you have an insider tip?

Hot days are best enjoyed in the shade of back yards. The only one in the Speicherstadt is the Sandtorquaihof. It offers great views from the oldest part of the Speicherstadt onto the buildings constructed during the second and third stages of construction. There are even more yards in the Kontorhaus district. There are restaurants in the inner yard of the Sprinkenhof of the Kontorhaus. The Sprinkenhof, incidentally, also has some impressive stairwells.

What impressed you most during your first visit here?

I was really impressed by the harbor launch boats that cruise within reach of the buildings in the Speicherstadt, as well as the way the tides make the water level in the canals along the Elbe river rise and fall. Each water level creates its own atmosphere. For one brief moment the water stands still before the rhythm of the tides begins all over again.

How do I best get to know this site?

On the weekends the Speicherstadt Museum offers free public tours of the Speicherstadt and the museum. This gives you a good overview as well as offering some interesting facts. Following that, you can enjoy a coffee before further exploring the warehouse district.

What else should I see here?

Good weather is best spent doing things on or close to the waters of the Alster and Elbe rivers. Once you reach the other side of the river after a walk through the old Elbe tunnel, you get a great view of the jetties and the city. Or you can go up one of the church towers. St. Michael's church, known locally as the Michel, offers a great view of the World Heritage Site. The high-rise bunker in Wilhelmsburg is also worth a visit, as this tower provides a unique view of the harbor. A stroll through the steep hill-side areas of the Blankenese district, sometimes called the stairs quarter, is also an adventure with fantastic views of the Elbe and the Elbhang area.

Visiting World Heritage Sites means working up an appetite. What regional specialty should I try?

Traditional Hamburg eel soup, or Pannfisch, a stew made of leftover fish without heads, served with fried potatoes or a fish sandwich on a bread roll. This should be washed down with an Alsterwasser, a mix of beer and lemonade. Most bakeries provide a tasty snack in the form of a Franzbrötchen, a cinnamon pastry that dates back to when Napoleon's soldiers reached Hamburg. It was a failed attempt by local bakers to create a croissant. A wonderful example of how successful a mistake can be!

And which World Heritage Site would you like to see one day?

It is hard to choose, because each World Heritage Site is fascinating in its own way. I would like to hike through the cultural landscape of Serra de Tramuntana on Mallorca. I'd also like to see the archeological landscape of the first coffee plantations in south-east Cuba - the coffee that might have been stored in the warehouses in Hamburg, which takes us back to the World Heritage Site here.

Lydia Struck

was born in Hamburg, making her a real "Hamburg Deern" - the term used to affectionately describe local girls. She started working at the Speicherstadt Museum as a student in 1999, where she is still a tour guide. For her PhD she studied the perception of municipal space, using the Speicherstadt as an example.

She has served on the board of directors of the Speicherstadt museum since 2008, where she also coordinates guided tours of the World Heritage Site.


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