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Reeperbahn - June 2008.JPG
Former name(s)Heinrichstraße
Length60 m (200 ft)
LocationFlag of Hamburg St. Pauli, Hamburg, Germany
Postal code20359[6]
Coordinates53°32′52.99″N 9°57′42.78″E / 53.5480528°N 9.9618833°E / 53.5480528; 9.9618833
Known forProstitution
Entrance to Herbertstraße; red sign to the right of the gate reads "No entrance for juveniles under 18 years of age and women". The large cigarette ad reads literally, "...For more foreplay."
Herbertstraße buildings
Herbertstraße: signs at the entry to the street that forbid entry to women and minors

Herbertstraße (until 1922 Heinrichstraße[1]) is a well-known street in the St. Pauli district of Hamburg, located near the main red light district Reeperbahn. It is the only street in the city where it is still possible to find prostitutes in "windows" as in the famous De Wallen district of Amsterdam.[7] It is reputed to have Hamburg’s best looking and most expensive prostitutes.[8] At its peak about 250 women worked there.[1][4][9]


The street is located near the Hans-Albers-Platz (the south square of the Reeperbahn dedicated to Hans Albers) and the Spielbudenplatz.


The prostitutes (nicknamed for their clothing Stiefelfrauen, or "women with boots")[10] sit on stools in the windows, usually scantily dressed, to try and entice clients to enter. They will sometimes talk to potential clients through an open window. Often the windows have red lighting and neon signs.

Most of the apartments are run by the "older" prostitutes.[11]



After the area was re-built in the 19th century, it became an area where sailors from the nearby Elbe docks spent their wages in the pubs and strip bars of the neighborhood. Licenses for prostitution were issued.

Early 20th Century[edit]

Prostitution increased in street after many of the brothels in the neighboring Davidstraße and other streets of St. Pauli lost their licenses. These brothels relocated to Herbertstraße.[11]

Nazi Germany[edit]

At the time of National Socialism there was a ban on striptease and prostitution from 1933.[1][4][9] However, as a ban on the typical St. Pauli trade could not be consistently enforced,[4][9] these activities were tolerated only in an alley - Herbertstrasse.[1][3][4][12] In order that no one could see in advance what was really not to be allowed, barriers were erected at both ends of the street.[3][12]


In the 1970s police added barriers and signs advising youths and women against entering:[7][2][3][12][4][5][10] the former for reasons of protection against harmful influences, the latter because prostitutes would actively seek to chase away any women who entered, thus causing trouble. The signs are written in both English and German. Zutritt für Männer unter 18 und Frauen verboten in German[3] and Entry for men under 18 and women prohibited in English.[2] The ban on women entering the street has brought criticism for gender discrimination.[8]


In September 2005, the Energy Hamburg radio station was fined 10,000 euros for having made a "Live Morning aus der Herbertstraße" in March, the content of which was criticized for inappropriate sexual practices and offers of prostitution. During the show there were several interviews between two journalists and two prostitutes in Herbertstraße, the two prostitutes reporting in detail their practices.

In 2010, an investor presented a plan to acquire some of the street's buildings and open an exhibition titled "Sexarbeit" ("Sex Work"). The plan would have reduced the area used for prostitution by about 11 metres.[1]

In December 2015 the Hamburg police handed out flyers at the entrances to Herbertstraße warning male visitors of the prostitutes' tricks including charging excessive amounts for supposed sexual services.[13]

On 8 March 2019, International Women's Day, members of the feminist activist group FEMEN removed the metal gates keeping Herbertstraße out of public view. The group said that the protest was against the sexual exploitation of women, trafficking and sexual violence, and activists criticised the fact that the street was inaccessible to women.[14]

Domenica Niehoff[edit]

From 1972 to 1990 Domenica Niehoff worked as a prostitute and dominatrix.[15] In the 1980s, Niehoff was the most prominent prostitution activist in Germany through numerous media appearances.

Street name[edit]

Herbertstraße is not named after a person,[7] but is part of a system of streets in the area named alphabetically after male given names (such as Davidstraße, Erichstraße, Friedrichstraße, Gerhardstraße etc.). Originally the street was called "Heinrichstraße".[1]

This custom dates back to the reconstruction of the neighborhood after the fire of 1814 which was deliberately started by occupying French troops as a defensive measure.[7]

In popular culture[edit]

  • St. Pauli Herbertstraße is a 1965 West German film about a farm girl who ends up working in the Herbertstraße
  • In 1967, Herbertstraße prostitutes were employed in a film directed by Jürgen Roland, entitled Polizeirevier Davidswache (Hamburg: City of Vice). The film was partially shot in the street.[16]
  • In 1998 scenes for St. Pauli Nacht (St. Pauli Night) were filmed in the street


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Brinkama, Leweke, Herbertstraße soll schrumpfen!
  2. ^ a b c Die Reeperbahn auf einen Blick: Herbertstraße (URL consultato il 16-08-2010)
  3. ^ a b c d e Mythos Herbertstraße: Sex ab 100 Euro , in: Hamburger Abendblatt, 27. Juli 2007 (URL consultato il 16-08-2010)
  4. ^ a b c d e f Garske, Kyra, Herbertstraße – Or forbidden zone for women , in: Spotted by Locals
  5. ^ a b Griffa, Valerio, La nuova notte di Amburgo, in: Bell'Europa, Nr. 208, Agosto 2010, p. 115
  6. ^ Staff (2008). Straßen- und Gebietsverzeichnis der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg 2008 (Hamburg list of streets and locations) (in German). Hamburg: Statistical office Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein (Statistisches Amt für Hamburg und Schleswig-Holstein). ISSN 0938-636X.
  7. ^ a b c d Altrogge, Gudrun, Hamburg, ADAC Verlag, München, 2005, p. 75
  8. ^ a b "Herbertstraße". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved 14 October 2017.
  9. ^ a b c Hamburg-Citysam: St. Pauli
  10. ^ a b Bussoni, Mario, Amburgo, in: Neos - Giornalisti di viaggio associati (URL consultato il 24-08-2010)
  11. ^ a b Kieztour: 3 - Herbertstraße u. Davidstraße (URL consultato il 24-08-2010)
  12. ^ a b c Belocal.de: Europa > Deutschland > Hamburg > Sehenswertes > Herbertstraße (URL consultato il 17-08-2010)
  13. ^ Rotlicht: Polizei warnt vor Abzocke im Rotlichtmilieu St. Pauli News vom 23. Dezember 2015, abgerufen am 4. Juni 2017
  14. ^ "Femen-Aktivistinnen zerlegen Sichtschutz in Hamburgs Rotlichtviertel" [Femen activists dismantle privacy in Hamburg's red-light district]. Die Welt (in German). 8 March 2019.
  15. ^ „Filmstadt Hamburg: Herbertstraße“ Archived 2010-05-29 at the Wayback Machine Film- und Fernsehmuseum Hamburg, abgerufen am 4. Juni 2017
  16. ^ Filmmuseum Hamburg: Herbertstraße Archived 2010-05-29 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]