Monday, January 05, 2009

Hamburg Fischmarkt

Early one Sunday morning, my brother and Josh and I visited Hamburg’s Fish Market (“Fischmarkt”). It is located directly on The River Elbe, about one mile from Landungsbrucken.

A genuine institution in Hamburg, the Fish Market has taken place every Sunday morning since 1703. It is one of Hamburg’s most beloved institutions.

For over 300 years, it has opened every Sunday very, very early—the market opens at 5:00 a.m. in summer months, at 7:00 a.m. in winter months—and has closed very, very early, always shutting its doors at 9:30 a.m. in order to allow everyone at the market to make it to 10:00 a.m. Sunday Service (still the main service time for all Hamburg churches, Protestant and Catholic).

Nowadays, market-goers may purchase much more than just fish at the Fish Market. Wares of virtually every type are on offer. Fruits, vegetables, cheeses, flowers, souvenirs, bric-a-brac, exotic plants and even livestock are among the items sold by the cheery and fairly aggressive stallholders.

The market is, naturally, a great place for a fish breakfast. All-night partygoers and early risers mingle, side by side, to mark the ends of or the beginnings of their respective days. Everyone is in a carefree mood, and the noise level can become deafening.

There is live music in the hall, which adds to the uproar. Live bands perform what passes for jazz in Germany, as well as country and western music (which was very, very popular in Germany in 2006).

The whole affair was just a bit too rambunctious for the three of us, especially on an early Sunday morning. The place was noisy, crowded, and full of drunks, and we did not stay long. We made a complete swing through the building, buying some fish and sausage to eat as we walked. On our round, we took a quick look at the different vendors, and quickly departed.

The Fish Auction Hall, 100 years old, is a handsome Beaux Arts structure. It was fully restored within the last decade.

In summer months, the Fish Market expands into adjoining streets, and becomes a virtual street fair.

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