The counter district (Kontorhausviertel) in Hamburg

Photo Catherine Gras

Hamburg’s maritime vocation goes back a long way and many districts are linked to this activity. One of these districts, the “comptoirs”, dates from the beginning of the 20th century and for those who like expressionist brick architecture, it is a must-see.

In 1892, cholera was rife in this part of the city and the decision was taken to raze these extremely dense working-class neighbourhoods to the ground and to build large buildings capable of housing the offices of the merchants active in the port just next door: trading posts. Various buildings were constructed just after the First World War, in the expressionist brick style.

The best known of these buildings is probably the Chilehaus, designed by Fritz Höger, built between 1922 and 1924:

During the week, the common areas of the Chilehaus are accessible, to be done.

The district is not limited to this building, there are other equally interesting buildings around it, including the Sprinkenhof with its crossing courtyards:

See also the Montanhauf, the Miramarhaus …

The buildings are large and massive, the facades have repetitive patterns but if you look closely you will find interesting details:

The Kontorhaus district is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with Speicherstadt, which is a large warehouse area dating from the late 19th century. In 1871, Hamburg joined the alliance of German states to form the Second Reich. In return for its membership, the city was given the opportunity to create a very large free zone in 1888. An entire residential area was demolished to build what was for a long time the largest warehouse zone in Germany, Europe and the world at the time… More than 20,000 inhabitants were relocated elsewhere.

This district is also worth a visit, with its fifteen or so brick warehouses that fall steeply over the canals.

Find out more about the World Heritage status of this urban ensemble:

https://whc.unesco.org/fr/list/1467

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