Generally the closer an area is to water in Hamburg, the more desirable a place it is to live. This is particularly true of the borough of Altona and Ottensen, an upscale neighborhood. Bordered by the Elbe, where Altona forms part of the port, and centered on a large domestic and international train station, the area has an allure heightened by a lively shopping boulevard and narrow side streets with bakeries, boutiques, and bars.
Much of this predominantly working-class area has been transformed over the last few decades. Nineteenth-century factories and industrial plants now accommodate cultural centers, movie theaters, offices, and hotels. Despite its increasingly middle-class makeup the quarter remains multicultural, and a large Turkish population continues to live and run all sorts of businesses here. It’s a part of Hamburg that in many ways feels separate from the city surrounding it, which is unsurprising given its history. Part of Denmark until 1864, Altona was an independent city as late as 1937, and its stately town hall above the river is a reminder of its distinguished past.