Friday, March 13, 2009


Very near Hamburg’s Rathaus, along the banks of The Inner Alster Lake (“Binnenalster”), are The Alster Arcades (“Alsterarkaden”).

After The Great Fire Of 1842 destroyed the greater part of the city, architect Alexis De Chateauneuf was engaged to redesign the city center. The Alster Arcades were a major feature of his grand design. The Alster Arcades stand elegantly at the water’s edge, with their gold-plated fish and tridents between the round arches and their intricate wrought-iron street lamps and balustrades. The Alster Arcades are now considered to be leading examples of what has come to be known as post-fire architecture. The Alster Arcades were inspired by the architecture of Venice.

Large numbers of swans live, year-round, on The Inner Alster Lake.

The Alster Arcades house numerous exclusive shops and cafes and offer visitors a great view of the Rathaus across the water.

In the center of The Alster Arcades is Mellin-Passage, which leads to Neuer Wall, a street behind and parallel to The Alster Arcades. In Mellin-Passage are ceiling frescoes and glass paintings dating back to the turn of the century. Mellin-Passage was the first of Hamburg’s many “passages”—indoor shopping venues, inspired by the passages of Paris—and is lined with antiquarian bookshops and art stores.

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