Between history and contemporaneity
It is often said that if you visit Hamburg once, you will certainly return for another visit. Germany's second city in terms of area and population (after Berlin), it also boasts the second-largest port in Europe. No surprise then, that Hamburg should be the home of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. In fine weather, the best way to explore Hamburg is by bicycle: ride through its numerous parks or take a stroll along the shore of the Außenalster, the larger of the two lakes formed by the river Alster. In the 1960s the city's Japanese community planted cherry trees there and since then the city has hosted the Kirschblütenfest, or cherry blossom festival, every May.
Bordering Schleswig-Holstein to the north and Lower Saxony to the south, Hamburg is a city in which a rich past blends with the present. It is also a very diverse city, which makes it even more attractive. Hamburg is one of Germany's sixteen states, so its city council is at the same time the state parliament. Greater Hamburg is one of the most important industrial areas in Germany.