Town history of Harburg

The permanent exhibition on the history of Harburg

Even if it still takes a while we would like to invite you to the opening of our new permanent exhibition on the early Harburg town history, which will be shown in the vaulted cellar of the Harburg Castle. We will keep you informed about the opening date!

Based on models, historical views, city maps and a variety of other historical objects, the new exhibition will show the beginnings of the town Harburg, which was sovereign until 1937.

Experience Harburg in its various historical facets: As a residential town, a garrison town, a town on the road to modernity, and as a working-class town.


Harburg as a residential town – a first prosperous time

From 1527 to 1642 the dukes Otto I, Otto II and Wilhelm von Braunschweig and Lüneburg resided and ruled in Harburg – all members of the House of Welf. During the family’s reign of nearly 120 years, Harburg experienced its first phase of prosperity. The dukes developed their residence in economic and cultural terms. One of their first measures was the foundation of the marksmen guild, which today remains one of the most important social institutions of Harburg.


Harburg as a garrison town – the castle as a massive fortress

After the death of the last duke in 1642, Harburg became a garrison town. The castle was converted into a huge fortress. Several plans show the conversion from the castle island to the mighty citadel, depicted by Merian in his well known view of Harburg.


Harburg becomes modern – with a new seaport and railway station

The onset of industrialization was the decisive development that turned Harburg into a large city. To facilitate this the former fortifications of the citadel island were expanded and converted to a modern seaport in the late 1840s. A model of 1859, designed as a tactile model for the blind King Georg V, shows the new seaport with its then highly modern wharf and the first Harburg railway station, which opened in 1848.


Harburg as a working-class town – growing from 6,000 to 60,000 inhabitants in 60 years

The industrial enterprises that settled in Harburg attracted many workers. The population of Harburg grew by a factor of ten between 1859 and 1910, from around 6,000 to more than 60,000 people. The new wealth and the influx of working class people changed the face of the city and brought about new cultural dimensions. Historical photographs chronicle the changing architecture from half-timbered buildings to Gründerzeit houses.


Harburg Castle

An der Horeburg 8
21079 Hamburg