Neo-Gothic brick facades in the harbour.
An ideal way to gain a first impression is to go on a boat voyage of discovery. Start from the Jungfernstieg with an Alster steamer or at the harbour with one of the small launches (only these craft are able to get into the narrow channels). However, after this you should walk around. The Speicherstadt district with its neo-Gothic brick buildings is one of the most beautiful things that Hamburg has to offer. It used to form part of the free harbour, the construction of the Harbour City has seen the customs boundary moved further into the harbour. If the EU in Brussels had its way, Hamburg's free-trade zone would long since have been abolished. Whether the goods are duty-free or not, Speicherstadt still features piles of coffee, tea, spices, alcoholic beverages, hi-fi systems and above all valuable oriental rugs. Despite political protestations to the contrary, it is still uncertain how much of this will remain. The Harbour City will not just change the Speicherstadt on the outside but on the inside as well. The International Maritime Museum with the collection of the former head of the Springer publishing group Peter Tamm will soon be moving into the oldest building in the Speicherstadt, Quay Warehouse B. Quay Warehouse A, right at the front opposite the Kehrwiederspitze, is set to get a futuristic glass roof and will be rebuilt to accommodate the Elbe Philharmonic. The best way to see how the old and new combine is to get into the heart of the area, e.g. between the Dutch Brook and the Old Wandrahm. Smartly restored warehouses are today home to advertising agencies, while right alongside bales of carpets are unloaded from ships. Walk along past the warehouses as far as the new Kibbelsteg bridges. You can walk over them directly into the Harbour City area. You can also get great views of the harbour and the Harbour City from the new view point, a viewing tower at the end of Great Grasbrook. Or you can visit the information centre in Kesselhaus, a fascinating establishment right in the heart of all the action (with a café). A good overview can be found in the information centre in the "Kesselhaus", a place well worth seeing.