Excursion to Altona

A few weeks ago we decided to go to Altona to visit a museum which exhibits the wonderful oeuvre of my favorite illustrator named Horst Janssen.

Altona is a part of Hamburg now and has a very interesting history which you can read below:

Altona is the westernmost urban borough (Bezirk) of the German city state of Hamburg, on the right bank of the Elbe river. From 1640 to 1864 Altona was under the administration of the Danish monarchy. Altona was an independent city until 1937.

Founded in 1535 as a village of fishermen in then Holstein-Pinneberg, in 1664 Altona, since 1640 a part of Holstein-Glückstadt, received city rights from Danish King Frederik III, then ruling in personal union as duke of Holstein. Until 1864, Altona was one of the Danish monarchy’s most important harbour towns. The railroad from Altona to Kiel, the Hamburg-Altona–Kiel railway (Danish: Christian VIII Østersø Jernbane), was opened in 1844.

Because of the severe restrictions on the number of Jews allowed to live in Hamburg (with the exception of the period of 1811–15,) until 1864,[1] a major Jewish community developed in Altona starting in 1611, when Count Ernest of Schaumburg and Holstein-Pinneberg granted the first permanent residence permits to Ashkenazic Jews.[2] Members did business both in Hamburg and in Altona itself. All that remains after the Nazi Holocaust during World War II are the Jewish cemeteries, but in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, the community was a major center of Jewish life and scholarship. The Holstein-Pinneberg and later Danish Holstein had lower taxes and placed fewer civil impositions on their Jewish community than did the government of Hamburg.

In 1871 Altona and the nearby city Hamburg were hit by cholera, with a minimum of 16 casualties in Altona.[3]

The Greater Hamburg Act removed Altona from the Free State of Prussia in 1937 and merged it (and several surrounding cities) with the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg in 1938. (Wikipedia)

When we came out of the underground we reached a lovely park that lead to the townhall of Altona. The most astounding was a huge fountain. Take a look at the nereid, that’s the only mermaid I have seen with two fishtailes. The story of the fountain is very interesting, too:

The group of figures is 7,50 meters high and very impressive as it shows two centaurs that fight for a huge fish. One of the centaurs seems to stumble and is in danger to succumb. At the edge of the water basin there are smaller marine figures (nereids and lizards) which are resentfully spouting water against these intruders. This sculpture is understood as an allegory of the competition between Altona and Hamburg which are both living from fishing and processing fish. This fountain was finished around 1898 and cost 45.000,- Reichsmark which was sponsored by a rich man called Stuhlmann. I have made some photos of the fountain, the townhall, some of old houses and some inside of the museum. You can see an  illustration from Horst Janssen and some very old figureheads.





25 thoughts on “Excursion to Altona

  1. Thank you Mitza for the history lesson on Hamburg-Altona! As to me as a casual visitor in my late teens to Hamburg I did not realize that Altona was an independent city until 1937. Your pictures and the explanations were a great way of getting to know HH a little better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was overwhelmed, too, standing next to these huge centaurs which were fighting, I felt a bit uncomfortable because they were made so vividly, but I laughed about the two fishtail legs of the nereid. What kind of things could I see visiting you? (Don’t be afraid, I wouldn’t do it) Have a nice day, regards Mitza


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