Thursday, January 29, 2009
Hamburg’s Borse, one of the most beautiful buildings in Hamburg, was built in the middle of the 19th Century, planned and erected after the previous Borse was destroyed in The Great Fire Of 1842. The Borse is Hamburg’s finest architectural example of Late Classicism.
The photo below shows Hamburg’s Borse as it appeared in 1900, before buildings were erected on the opposite side of the street, buildings that today make it impossible to obtain a prime view of the Borse’s front façade.
Sharing a rear courtyard with Hamburg’s Rathaus, the Hamburg Borse is presently home to Hamburg’s Chamber Of Commerce. The Hamburg Stock Exchange no longer occupies the structure, having moved to modern quarters outside the city center several years ago.
There has been a stock exchange in Hamburg since 1558, making The Hamburg Stock Exchange Germany’s oldest. Until World War II, The Hamburg Stock Exchange was Germany’s largest and most important stock exchange. The post-war emergence of Frankfurt as Germany’s financial center resulted in The Hamburg Stock Exchange losing its centuries-long status as Central Europe’s most prestigious stock exchange.
The interiors of Hamburg’s Borse are very impressive. The primary decorative feature is the use of arcades throughout the building, as may be seen in this photo of one of the central staircases.
Trading used to occur in two beautiful, multi-story halls, halls that look more suitable for grand entertaining than for business transactions. Indeed, today the halls are used exclusively for prominent social functions, offering some of the most elegant venues in the city to Hamburg’s elite.
The Hamburg Borse is not open to the public, but Borse security personnel allowed us to explore the interiors anyway. We asked, very nicely, to view the interiors, and security personnel issued us visitor passes. One of the guards winked and said to me, “We’ll just pretend you are here to inquire about employment”, and he gave passes to my mother, my brother, and Josh and me. We must not have looked dangerous, because security personnel did not even require us to proceed through the metal detectors.
Between the rear of the Rathaus and the rear of the Borse is the Rathaus Central Courtyard (“Innenhof Des Rathauses”), wherein is Hamburg’s Hygieia Fountain (“Hygieia-Brunnen”), a fountain with a statue of Hygieia, Goddess Of Health, surrounded by bronze figures circling the base of the fountain.
The Goddess Of Health was chosen for tribute because a terrible cholera epidemic struck Hamburg in 1892. The epidemic killed almost 10,000 persons before it was conquered by the modernization of public water supplies.