Hamburg's slogan is inscribed above the archway of the town hall. It says: Libertatem quam peperere maiores digne studeat servare posteritas (May the future world be worthy to receive the freedom won by our forbears). Hamburg is called a gateway to the world. Its significance is interregional as a centre for trade, traffic and services. It is one of Germany's most important industrial locations.
The first settlements were established as early as the 4th century B.C. In the 12th century, a trading and market settlement was founded on the western bank of the Alster, and in 1189 Hamburg was given trade privileges and the right to operate a port. In the Middle Ages the city developed into a flourishing trade centre. Hamburg joined the Hanseatic League in the 14th century - one of the first cities to do so - and was at times considered its “brewing-house” with its approximately 600 breweries. The city became the League's most important shipment transfer centre and goods storage location between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea.
Hamburg's politics have always been aimed at the greatest possible freedom of trade and political independence. Even today, the city state of Hamburg is largely independent and its free port offers good conditions for trade.
The sea harbour is the largest in Germany, the second largest in Europe and the eighth in the world. For some specialised goods it is the world's largest transfer port. Directly connected to the Speicherstadt (warehouse district) and the inner city, a new district is now being built: the HafenCity. This project is to facilitate living, working and entertainment.
Hamburg is one of Germany's most important media locations and is counted among leading congress hosts. The Congress Centrum Hamburg (CCH) was opened in 1973 as Germany's first congress centre. Immediately next door is the Hamburg trade fair arena. The Hanseboot boat show and traditional Internorga hotel fair are internationally famous. Regionally, the consumer fair Du und Deine Welt (You And Your World) is especially popular.
It is considered Germany's capital city of music. As well as popular musicals such as Cats, Mamma Mia and the Lion King, there are also many smaller musicals such as those at Schmidt's Tivoli theatre, e.g. Heisse Ecke (Hot Corner) and Fifty Fifty - not forgetting guest performances of many musicals in the famous St. Pauli theatre.
The local greeting "Hummel, Hummel - Mors, Mors" comes from a water-carrier named Johann Wilhelm Bentz, nicknamed “Hummel”, who lived in Hamburg until his death in 1854. When he passed by, people would mock him by saying "Hummel, Hummel". He then answered "Mors, Mors". At that time, Mors was Hamburg's local word for the backside.
These days, "Moin" is generally a more common greeting. Its literal meaning is "good" and can relate to any time of day.