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Culture in Hamburg: A city you have to see

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History of art and culture in Hamburg

Hamburg has a long and pruod tradition when it comes to its cultural and artistic offerings. It owes this primarily to private initiatives, because there was hardly any cultural funding in Hamburg in earlier times. Only when events, which were initiated by citizens, became established, were financial support measures granted. This provided for an enormous variety with regard to the emergence of cultural offerings. Over the years and decades, Hamburg has seen the development of numerous spoken-word theaters, theaters, cabaret and vaudeville establishments, as well as musicals, operas and ballets. Today, Hamburg is considered the nationwide musical capital. Famous plays such as Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Cats," which had its Germany-wide premiere here, and Roman Polanski's "Dance of the Vampires" have captivated many millions of people. Since 2016, Germany's largest Hanseatic city has also been home to the Elbphilharmonie. This concert hall, which is a new landmark in the city, regularly hosts classical and contemporary music events as well as concerts.

Five of the largest art museums have joined forces to form the Kunstmeile Hamburg.

Museums and exhibitions in Hamburg

There are a large number of museums in Hamburg. The thematic spectrum ranges from collections and memorials to art exhibitions, galleries and district archives. The houses offer presentations on art and crafts, but also natural history exhibitions such as archeology, mineralogy, zoology or medical history. In total, the Hanseatic city is home to more than 100 museums and exhibition houses. Here, interested visitors have a great opportunity to discover and experience history and dive into fascinating worlds. Five of the largest art museums have joined forces to form the Kunstmeile Hamburg. There, art exhibitions in Hamburg are presented on more than 30,000 square meters, covering the period from antiquity to the present.

Museum of Arts and Crafts

The Museum of Arts and Crafts (Kunstgewerbemuseum) in Hamburg has existed since 1874 and is located on Steintorplatz near the main train station, art enthusiasts have the opportunity to explore a wide range of objects on more than 18,000 square meters. Exhibits include historical as well as contemporary photographs and prints, ceramics, fashion, Art Nouveau objects and much more.

Chocolate Museum

Candy gourmets can fully immerse themselves in the history of the most popular dessert at the Schokoladenmuseum. Visitors learn interesting facts about the production of chocolate, can take part in tastings and assemble a chocolate creation to their own taste in the in-house chocolate workshop and then take it home.

Port Museum Hamburg

A port city should not be without its own museum dedicated to the history of shipping. In the show depot, exhibits from the history of shipbuilding and port handling are on display. In addition, there is an outdoor area with numerous devices and vehicles, some of which are still in working order.

Zoological Museum

The natural history museum invites visitors to view the fourth largest collection of animal specimens in Germany. More than 10 million specimens from various fields of zoology, for example ornithology, mammalogy, entomology or ichthyology, are exhibited here. The famous walrus Antje, former mascot of the NDR, can also be marveled at as an exhibit.

International Maritime Museum

Technology enthusiasts get the chance to view ship models, paintings, photographs, as well as equipment, weapons, uniforms and other exhibits at this maritime museum in Hamburg's Speicherstadt, immersing them in the world of historical and modern shipping.

The Schauspielhaus is considered to be Hamburg's oldest talking stage and has existed since 1842.


Hamburg offers a colorful bouquet of major stage productions, plays and cabaret events. From renowned events to cabaret, almost everyone looking for cultural diversion on stage in the metropolis on the Elbe will find what they are looking for. Thanks to the many playhouses, there is a wide range of theater events at any time of the year.

Thalia Theater

The Schauspielhaus is considered Hamburg's oldest talking stage and has been in existence since 1842. The "Großes Haus", located at the Alstertor in Hamburg's old town, seats nearly 1,000 visitors. More than 20 productions are performed there on a daily basis, and regular premieres are also held at the "Thalia in der Gaußstraße" in the Altona district.

Hamburg Playhouse

With 1200 seats for visitors, the Schauspielhaus is the largest theater in Germany. It was founded by a private citizens' initiative around 1900. Today it is one of the country's leading theaters.

Ohnsorg Theater

This is probably the most famous theater in Hamburg, specializing in the promotion of plays in Low or Plattdeutsch, which has made it enormously famous. Plays written in Low German as well as plays translated into this dialect from High German are performed. Heidi Kabel, Otto Lüthje, Jürgen Pooch and Gisela Wessel have already become famous through the Ohnsorg Theater.

Hansa Theater

For a long time, the variety theater on Steindamm in St. Georg operated only in the winter months, but since 2020 it has been open all year round. Friends of classical vaudeville get their money's worth. A special feature of the house is its nostalgic-looking interior, which has remained almost unchanged since the 1950s.

Schmidts Tivoli Theater

The Schmidts Tivoli is one of three playhouses of the Schmidt Theater. It seats 620, operates without government funding and is located in the heart of St. Pauli. Variety, guest performances, cabaret and musical theater productions can be seen here.

The Elbe metropolis of Hamburg is considered an ideal destination for a musical trip.

Musicals and shows in Hamburg

The Elbe metropolis is the ideal destination for a musical trip, because the musical stronghold of Hamburg offers a whole range of famous productions. You can marvel at both classic pieces and new productions in Hamburg and dive deep into the world of glamorous stage performances.

Stage Theater on the Elbe

The musical theater of the Stage Entertainment Group is located in the Steinwerder district and is right next to the Theater im Hafen, which belongs to the same group. Performances that have been shown here in the past include "Dance of the Vampires," "The Miracle of Bern" and the Udo Jürgens play "I've Never Been to New York."

Stage Operettenhaus

This theater on Spielbudenplatz in Hamburg looks back on a long tradition, having been in existence since 1841. The musical "Cats" premiered here in 2001. The Operettenhaus has been in existence since 1841 and was modeled on the theater of the same name in Vienna.

Stage Theater Neue Flora

The Neue Flora is the largest musical theater in Hamburg. It was built in the style of the 1920s and is one of Hamburg's landmarks. The house made a name for itself nationwide with "Phantom of the Opera," which was performed there from 1990 to 2001.

Stage Theater at the Port of Hamburg

World hits are regularly performed here. The breathtaking musical "The Lion King" has been staged there since 2001 and has been thrilling audiences ever since. Visitors enjoy unique cultural events there against the beautiful backdrop of the Port of Hamburg.

Mehr! Theater at the wholesale market

The Mehr Theater am Großmarkt was built in 2015. It functions as a multifunctional theater and connects Hamburg's wholesale market with HafenCity. To admire are musicals, concerts, shows and theater performances.

Even more Hamburg - Read the whole series

Learn more about culture in Hamburg

Written by:

Stefanie Aust, Guest Writer

Stefanie loves to put complex topics from the real estate world into understandable and inspiring words. Whether it's about the right financing, choosing the right type of flat, or a successful property search: Stefanie is happy to inform you.

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