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Hamburg is one of the Hanseatic Ports of the Middle Ages, which commercially dominated the Baltic & Northern Germany. In consequence, the port was very important and still is today. The city has been formed around the port and is the second largest city in Germany. During the last war, Hamburg and it's port were devastated by the firebombing in 1943, where many of the poorer boroughs were completely destroyed by fire.
Hamburg has re-built itself and is still doing so with the development of the low lying land on the Northern bank of the Elbe. It is interesting to take the hop-on-hop-off bus tour (leaving from in front of the Main Station every 30 minutes) which shows you the contrasts of this great city. You pass through the famous “Reeperbahn” in the St. Pauli quarter, which is Europe's largest red light district and home of strip clubs, brothels, bars and nightclubs – mainly heterosexual of course!
There is quite an active gay scene in Hamburg – well worth a visit.