Numerous Freemasons have appeared in the history of the city since 1737, and many
streets and squares in Hamburg have been named for them. Important points in their
lives can be reached on nine historical walking tours of the city. Besides several
mayors, merchants and actors who rendered outstanding services to Hamburg and who
were Freemasons, there was Gabriel Riesser (1806-1863), a simple member of city parliament
and the first Jewish judge in Germany who campaigned for religious freedom during
his lifetime. He accomplished the legal equality of Jews in the Frankfurt Constitution
which was then adopted in the Constitution of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg.
Why has Hamburg’s heart long beat for different cultures and Hamburg’s harbour with
its trade relations led to contacts throughout the world? Who knows that the Michel,
the city’s landmark, was designed and built by the Freemason Ernst Georg Sonnin in
1750? 32 panels and 14 reliefs in the entrance of Hamburg’s city hall inform visitors.
One can follow well-known and forgotten personalities through the last 275 years
and learn a lot about the history(-ies) of Freemasons and their brotherhood. The
exhibition displays surprising contributions to the development of Hamburg and the
eastward opening of the ‟Gateway to the World": For his contribution to the peaceful
revolution with the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, Kurt Masur, Music Director
of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra (1991-2002), was awarded the Cultural Prize
of the Freemasons 2012 in Leipzig. The award in our anniversary year recognises his
commitment to humanity and building bridges between cultures.