A new chapter for the historic city of Hamburg

Written by By Linda Lowenfels, CNN

Hamburg has an image problem.

Ever since its bright red spires were plastered over Vogue magazine and joined the family of trendy European capitals, this birthplace of techno and hipster chic has been criticized for neglecting its own history.

However, Hamburg is seeking to lift its downtrodden image with a new chapter to its history.

Founded in 1267 by Philip III, it became the capital of the Holy Roman Empire in 1551, and the city of Hermannstadt in 1834. That era yielded a wealth of historical treasures from an imposing cathedral to a crusader fortress, and until 1666, a UNESCO World Heritage Site called the Rhine Cathedral, built by one of St. Nicholas’ legendary six sons.

A local legend suggests that this superb building was built on its former glory by a Roman who abandoned his homeland, taken prisoner by crusaders for sailing the wrong way and kept in captivity on the island for 23 years.

Passersby overlook the spectacular 17th century convent of the Prudence Sisters. Credit: ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/AFP/Getty Images

These days, the fragility of these historical relics have seen the bridge between the original city and the rebuilt one cut in 1917, then one again in 1942.

A move away from its old-world gloom comes in the form of this carefully-sewn shrine in a red cloth, covered in international icons that will be posted on illuminated billboards for the first time in Hamburg’s history, at a cost of $8.7 million

Hamburg Cathedral. Credit: Peter Allegri/Bloomberg

One banner honours its native son: composer Felix Mendelssohn, who was born in 1365. Mendelssohn and his family visited Hamburg regularly, having fled the religious persecution of the town’s Nazis. During his childhood years, he would often tour the city’s most renowned sites, with its medieval buildings and towering spires. This pilgrimage lead to his music, which is filled with “Dutch Summer Tune” — a similar tune to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, which is played in the official Lutheran service held in its St. Nicholas Church.

The current gift chain is around 90 meters in length. Credit: Peter Allegri/Bloomberg

Similar to Mendelssohn, a local legend says that an ancient shepherd told a woman who married him that she would receive a document that would deliver her freedom — all they need do is grant her three wishes, each wish matched with a man she loves.

True to the original tale, the garment holds three wishes — one for each local family matriarch. This is the wish for Maria Maria and Marta von Denseen. Maria Maria had the wish to reunite with the six brothers who were taken captive in the Spanish Inquisition. Marta received a wish for relatives, who were separated by the Nazi-era deportation of the American Jewish community. And lastly, her garment includes the wish to free the city of Mark.

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