Harbor and skyline, Hamburg, Germany (Tobias Helbig/Photodisc)

St. Pauli quayside, Hamburg, Germany (Torsten Kruger)

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What to do in Hamburg

Founded by Charlemagne in 808 A.D., Hamburg served as a port for the Vikings in the Middle Ages and was the departure point for millions leaving for America in the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, the storied harbor is still the city’s biggest draw,  bringing in hundreds of shipping and cruise boats every year. It would be enough for most cities to simply preserve this, but Hamburg invests millions in new projects to keep it on the cutting edge. HafenCity, formerly a waterfront industrial lot, has been transformed into modern lofts, shops, and restaurants. The new neighborhood also houses one of the world’s most buzzed-about architectural projects: the striking, 360-foot-tall Elbphilharmonie building, which is said to have a price tag exceeding 323 million euros. No place captures the city’s forward-looking spirit better.

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