Hamburg – View of the City as Seen from the Alster (c. 1850)
One of the first members of the Hanseatic League, the city of Hamburg was a major commercial and political power in northern Europe during the medieval and early modern periods. Although the city suffered a temporary economic decline in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, it experienced a simultaneous cultural blossoming and continued to play an important role as a trading center. In 1806, the city was occupied by Napoleonic troops; in 1815, it joined the German Confederation as a free city. This view from the Alster (a tributary of Hamburg’s Elbe River) includes the spires of some of the sacred buildings that mark the city’s skyline. These include (between the trees, from left to right): St. Peter’s Church (fourteenth century, rebuilt in 1842), St. Nikolai Church (c. 1200), and St. Michael’s (1648-73), whose spire (“Michel”) is Hamburg’s landmark. Steel engraving by Friedrich Hirchenhein (?) after a drawing, c. 1850.