One of a Kind Spice Museum in Hamburg, Germany

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by Harald and Renate Zoschke


Speicherstadt von der Wasserseite

For more than 800 years, the port of Hamburg has been one of the most important spice trading places in the world. So it is not really surprising that this is home to Spicy’s Gewürzmuseum, a one-of-a-kind spice museum. It is located right in the heart of the port – in Hamburg´s “Docklands,” the “Speicherstadt,” which comprise the largest collection of historical warehouses in the world. They are to be found in the Free Port, and were built between 1888 and 1910. It  is supposed to be the world’s largest consecutive warehouse complex.

The new-gothic red brick architecture is the main attraction of any harbor sightseeing tour, best done on a small barge.

Then and now, primarily  high-quality import merchandise such as oriental rugs, raw silk, electronic devices, tobacco, coffee, cocoa beans, tea, rum, dried fruit, nuts, and – last but not least – spices are stored in these warehouses.

The huge brick warehouses comprise roughly 600,000 square meters. Deliveries come in from the water side, pickups go out on the street side. The warehouses are sorted by letters, A-Z; block L, one of the oldest buildings, is the home of “Spicy’s Gewürzmuseum
(see red marker.)

Climbing the worn-out stairs to the “2. Boden” (second
floor), we reach the museum. Entry fee is 3.00 Euro  (about US$ 4.00), which usually includes a small surprise gift like, for example, a spice sample.

Speicherstadt von der Straßenseite

Gewürz-Exponate im alten Speicher

Browsing the comprehensive exhibition on creaking floor boards put us back in time and the authentic old warehouse atmosphere.

The museum’s main purpose is to help people learn and understand the use, quality and storage of spices, says Spicy’s owner Viola Vierk And as a matter of fact, we learned a lot.

Altes Gewürz- und Drogen-Mahlwerk

Part of the exhibits is ancient production machinery, such as this spice and drug mill (left), as well as a complete post-war kitchen (right) which was set up especially for the current special feature: “Suppen – echt scharf” (delicious and spicy soups.)


Gewürzproben und Gewürz-Walzwerk (Hintergrund)

There is an incredible variety of more than 700 exhibits from the past five centuries,  displayed on roughly 350 square meters. Every exhibit is perfectly labeled and described, and with ancient machines and devices one can follow the whole path and treatment of a spice, from growing it all the way to the final product.

We found it particularly interesting to be able to actually touch and smell the many spices, mostly presented in original big burlap sacks, the way they are shipped from their country of origin.

Left, background: Part of a huge spice rolling mill.

Gewürzproben in Originalsäcken

Spicy’s is actually a hands-on museum, with quite unusual special feature exhibitions. This summer, “Suppen – echt scharf” (delicious and spicy soups) is on, and visitors will find a wealth of information, “soupy” tips and tricks. Renowned chef Erich Häusler, well known beyond Hamburg, will teach and cook differently themed soups every Sunday afternoon between 7/15 and 9/30/01. He will also talk about soup spices and herbs.

Spicy's-Inhabering Viola Vierk und Küchenmeister Erich Häusler

Quite recently we were fortunate enough to get invited to a preview party for this special feature program. Chef Häusler created two delicious spicy soups: Seafood soup with cabbage, kicked up with allspice, and Lamb soup with grain of pearl barley, kicked up with allspice. Unbelievably delicious!

Spicy’s owner
Viola Vierk and
Chef Erich Häusler

Spicy soup with
grain of pearl
barley, allspice
and lamb

Pikante Piment Graupensuppe mit Lamm

The spice museum is a must for everybody who visits Hamburg and loves hot&picy. Often they have themed events, like mediterranian cooking, with opportinities to “talk gourmet” with an experienced and well-known chef like Erich Häusler.  Of course it is always good to chat with the Spicy’s team or to browse through their little shop where they sell spices, herbal teas, and related books.

Spicy’s Gewürzmuseum” is located at Sandtorkai 32 (subway (U-Bahn): U3 to Baumwall).

Spicy’s Gewürzmuseum info (hours etc.):

If you go: See MapQuest Map & Directions


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