The second German city by population, Hamburg was shaped by its maritime heritage, from its architecture, to its food, to the character of its residents (often, as it is the case with sea ports, colourful and a bit off-the-scale). Since the times of the Medieval Hanseatic League, Hamburg has always been – and still is – a major gateway to world commerce. For further evidence check the Speicherstadt area, with its old restored sombre warehouse facing the canals – a bit like a Germanic Venice, or the Reeperbahn red-light district, which was the first point of call for sailors on shore leave.
Germany has some of the best legal provisions when it comes to LGBT rights, though same-sex marriage has not arrived here yet (but civil unions give equivalent rights).
A few LGBT clubs are located in the Reeperbahn area, but there are plenty more in the more upmarket St Georg area. Here, the Lange Reihe is the starting point of Hamburg's annual Christopher Street Day (Pride) parade.