Hamburg, Germany

The residents of Hamburg have retained the independent spirit which earned this autonomous commercial center its 'Free City' designation in the Middle Ages. One of Germany's principal ports, Hamburg is surrounded by enormous dock areas and the gaudy, licentious Reeperbahn (which translates loosely to 'Anchorage of Joy') is fully prepared to offer every form of entertainment to the world's sailors. The vaudeville acts at the Hansa-Theater are bright and clever (and language is no barrier). The Kunsthalle (art museum) boasts an outstanding collection of 16th- and 20th-century masterpieces, and the Renaissance Rathaus (city hall) sits atop some 4,000 piles driven into marshy ground proving that the engineers of Hamburg have been skilled and imaginative for centuries.