Hamburg has a lot of famous attraction: some might first think about the huge harbor, others about the new Elbphilharmonie (Elbe Philharmonic Hall). Of course, one key attraction of the Northern German city is undoubtedly the red light district. During Covid-19, sex working (which is normally legal in Germany) has been suspended legally. During my visit in the city in late July, I just had to have a visit at the world-famous Herbertstrasse and dare a look at the impact of that regulation on the city.
Hamburg Herbertstrasse – Location
The street you likely associate most with the Hamburg red light district is the Reeperbahn, the large road crossing the St. Pauli borough party, night life and sex work area. The whole areas is full of clubs and bars, not only for erotic / sexual services. For example, I saw some really nice concerts in that area, too. It is just a very short walk to the Landungsbrücken from there, where you typically start with your harbor cruises and explore other maritime-based Hamburg attraction.
The Herbertstrasse, which is some two, three blocks away from the Reeperbahn, is most prominent due to its gates at both ends. Apart from ladies working there, the short road is restricted to adult (i.e. over 18 years) male visitors. The road and a short side path features sex working places and is thus typically quite buzy. Of course, you would also not be allowed to take pictures under “normal” circumstances.
Hamburg Herbertstrasse during Covid-19
Typcially, the Herbertstraße is “protected” by two massive steel gates, so that you cannot look into the street and see what is going on there. People can pass the gates from the sides. I was quite surprised that the gates stayed closed even though there was no business between the gates. This lead to the situation that (majorly on the East Gate towards Davidstrasse) quite a bunch of people stood before the gates and did not dare to go in.
I have to say that the pictures below have been taken on a Saturday afternoon. The city was crowded with tourists in a way that I here and there did not feel safe. The harbor cruise boats and public ferries burst with people, for example. The more, it felt depressing to walk through the empty Herbertstrasse. I feel it is good that sex working is legalized in Germany and the red light district is indeed a part of Hamburg. As a travel blogger, it is an interesting opportunity to walk this area and take pictures, but i definitely had negative feelings. Last time I walked the street was on a weekday afternoon – and it was very crowded there. The virus hit our life in any way.
Hamburg Herbertstrasse – Protests
You likely already saw that there were multiple signs and banners at the Herbertstrasse. The ladies / the business were protesting that they are banned from working due to the pandemic. On the signs, they argue that they are experts in hygienic behavior, for example. Other signs state that it is their income, so that they are economically dependent on it as well. They also fear that legalizing their business will be reverted so that sex working becomes illegal again in Germany. Other neighboring countries like the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland did allow already to re-open the facilities (partially under altered regulations) already.