Photo by: Christian Streck
Mention red-light district and one would think of Amsterdam. Little do tourists know that in Hamburg lies Germany’s answer to the Netherlands: the Reeperbahn Hamburg.
Hamburg is a magnificent city, recently voted as the most attractive in Germany, and the Reeperbahn is its prodigal child. The Reeperbahn is the entertainment and red-light district of St. Pauli, one of Hamburg’s 105 quarters and is popularly regarded as the “sinful mile of the world”.
The Reeperbahn gets its name from the rope-makers, or Reepschlägern. Literally meaning “ropewalk” or a place where rope made, Hamburg used to have ropewalks located in the Neustadt (New Town) quarter. Once the area became densely populated, the ropewalks were moved to a country road leading toward Altona. This street later took on the name “Reperbahn”. Today, this central street runs for about 930 meters from Millerntorplatz to Nobistor, in Altona.
Nightclubs and bars abound in the Reeperbahn, along with access to the somewhat hidden Herbertstrase, a parallel street lined with brothels only accessible by foot through two guardrails. It is also – and not surprisingly – the epicenter of the SM scene in Hamburg, home to “Club de Sade”, Europe’s oldest SM club since 1985. But Reeperbahn Hamburg is not all about sex, drugs, and booze. It boasts an enviable music history as the setting for the Beatles’ shot to international fame, now commemorated in the Beatlesplatz. The Reeperbahn is timelessly honored through music by a myriad of artists like Tom Waits, Hans Albers, Toy Dolls and more.
Theater lovers can also rejoice, as the Reeperbahn Hamburg does not disappoint in its offerings. Fans can find three theaters in the vicinity: the St. Pauli Theater, Schmidt Theater & Schmidts Tivoli and the Operettenhaus, where the musicals “Cats”, “Mamma Mia!” and “ABBA” were premiered in Germany.
Getting to the Reeperbahn is very easy and can be accessed via two train stops: the S-Bahn Reeperbahn (lines S1, s2 and S3) and U-Bahn St. Pauli, located in the center of the Millerntorplatz.
There are so many things to do in Hamburg, and Reeperbahn Hamburg is a unique place any visitor shouldn’t miss. While it is a red-light district admittedly full of dark deeds, it abounds in cultural activities. At the very least, grab a beer at one of its many bars, sit back, and let the Reeperbahn provide you the most interesting case of good ol’ peoplewatching.