Bismarck monument, Hamburg

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Bismarck monument HamburgBasically a colossal stone figure of Otto von Bismarck in Hamburg. It's mainly impressive for its sheer size, but "inside" (underground) it also holds a little sinister secret …  

>More background info

>What there is to see


>Access and costs

>Time required

>Combinations with other dark destinations

>Combinations with non-dark destinations

More background info: Otto von Bismarck was Reich's chancellor in Imperial Germany from 1871 to 1890, and his politics earned him the nickname "The Iron Chancellor". Numerous monuments were erected in his honour (before and after his death), but this one is by far the most monumental of them all, standing at 112 feet / 35m tall. It was built between 1903 and 1906, and ever since it's been a grey granite landmark of Hamburg and its skyline as seen from the harbour – as if the hard man was standing guard over it. Its style is very Germanic indeed – spot the eagles at the big man's feet and the muscular men reliefs along the plinth …
The reason it's on these pages is not just its enormous size but also something much less visible. Inside the mock crypt under the statue itself, are said to be wall inscriptions from the Nazi era, drumming on a bout "blood" and "iron" and such martial allusions… but these are not visible to the public, and that's probably for good reason …  
What there is to see: really not much, other than the very Germanic and grossly oversized monument itself. The interior of the caverns under his feet are locked and inaccessible to the general public.
Location: off Helgoländer Allee (dipping south from the eastern end of the Reeperbahn), in the middle of the Elbpark, between St Pauli and Hamburg's harbour-front.
Google maps locator: [53.5487,9.9721]
Access and costs: easy and free.
Details: walkable from the harbour-side tourist hub of Landungsbrücken, or from St Pauli (at the eastern end of the infamous Reeperbahn red-light district. The closest metro (U-Bahn) stations are those of the same names: Landungsbrücken (U3, S1/S3) and St Pauli (U3). You can't miss it, towering over the Elbpark as it does – so no further detailed directions will be necessary.
As it stands in a public park, it can be seen for free at any time.
Time required: only a few minutes, maybe a quarter of an hour if you want to linger.
Combinations with other dark destinations: in general see Hamburg. The body of the real Otto von Bismarck is buried in a mausoleum on the eastern outskirts of Hamburg, in the Sachsenwald forest (accessible by regional train and a walk in the woods).  
Closer to his gigantic statue in Hamburg is the new mooring of the former Russian spy submarine U-434, just west of the Landungsbrücken. It is also not too far to the Nikolaikirche ruin further east nearer the Speicherstadt.
Combinations with non-dark destinations: see Hamburg. Directly adjacent, overlooked by the big Bismarck, is the Landungsbrücken complex of landing stages, which is one of the most heavily tourist-oriented spots in the city, as it is from here that most of the ubiquitous harbour boat tours depart. (But if you're interested in doing one of those, here's a tip: go for the ones further upriver, and pick one of the smaller boats – they tend to be cheaper and offer more, because those boats are more manoeuvrable than the big flashy tourist trap alternatives that too many uninitiated visitors fall for.)
Further upstream begins the area known as the Speicherstadt (with its many museums).
A walk further downriver will take you to the Fish Market area, which today is also an extensively developed touristy part of Hamburg, and as such is on most visitors' itinerary.

©, Peter Hohenhaus 2010-2019

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