Hamburg is Germany's second largest city and its harbour is the second largest port city in the European Union. It lies at the junction of the River Elbe with the Rivers Alster and Bille and is geographically centred between Continental Europe and Scandinavia and between the North and Baltic Seas.
Founded in around 811 during the Charlemagne reign, Hamburg was one of the great Hanseatic cities and has maintained its prominence through the centuries.
Hamburg's centre is beautifully set around Lake Binnenalster and Lake Außenalster and it has 2302 bridges more than Venice and Amsterdam combined. With more than 90 consulates, Hamburg is second only to New York City.
In 1962, four shaggy headed lads from Liverpool slipped into town and began a journey that would change the music world forever.
Since the explosion of the Beatles onto the music scene, Hamburg has become famous for being the place where the most famous band ever cuts its teeth.
In the 1960s, the Reeperbahn, both a street and section in the Sankt Pauli district of Hamburg, was and is one of the world's roughest, toughest, sleaziest places. It is a street of strip clubs, peep shows and sex theatres but there are steps being taken towards gentrification.
It is just one kilometre long, but its no-holds-barred reputation attracts more than a million curious tourists every year. It is seedy and scary and the Beatles were amongst it all, playing clubs for up to 12 hours a night, seven days a week.
Those who were there recall the partying, the fighting, the unsavoury clientele, the dancing and the bouncers some even remember the music!
The clubs are still there and advertise the dates the boys from Liverpool played in them. Indra Club, the first they played, Top Ten Club, Star Club, Bambi Kino and the infamous Kaiserkeller, which opens its doors every Monday to young bands hoping to follow in the Beatles' footsteps.
The elegant side of Hamburg has palatial department stores and arcades along its boulevards, art centres and the famous St Pauli entertainment district. A wealth of historic buildings, traffic-free areas and shopping streets between the colonnades and Neuer Wall Street are enjoyable for locals and tourists.
The century-old Speicherstadt in the Free Port between the Deichtorhallen and Baumwall is the world's oldest warehouse complex. It was built at the turn of the century in red brick, typical of northern Germany, with gabled roofs and small towers, which are beautifully reflected in the canals they border. At night it is beautifully illuminated and night cruises show it at its best.