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Historic Hamburg, Germany's largest port and its second largest city lies 70 miles inland on the banks of the Elbe. Founded over 1,000 years ago by Charlemagne, this one-time Hanseatic League port has emerged from post-war restoration to become a prosperous city of striking architecture both modern and ancient, of an epic history and splendid art, of cosmopolitan shopping, dining and nightlife. Its two lakes, hundreds of canals and spacious parks, the grandeur of its church steeples and great City Hall belfry, its sense of energy and confidence - these all contribute to the subtle appeal of this imposing city. From Hamburg you can also visit Berlin, Germany's historic capital or Lubeck.
During medieval times, Hamburg was an independent state. Evidence of early settlements have been traced back some 15,000 years, but the city was established and fortified during the ninth century when it was under constant attack by the Vikings. During the early twelfth century, the city was granted free trade, and Hamburg surpassed all other European cities in commerce during the powerful era of the Hanseatic League. Hamburg was a focal point of attack during World War II, but fortunately many structures remain from medieval times, making one of Northern Europe's most adored destinations.
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