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Reeperbahn, Hamburg

Germany's insider take:

A tangle of streets in the bohemian St. Pauli district down by the riverbank, the Reeperbahn is notorious throughout Europe as one of the Continent's biggest red-light districts. The area is fascinating—unsavory, but nonetheless safe. Prostitution is regulated, and the streets are always full. The "upscale" Herbertstrasse is gated to admit men only and features scantily clad ladies beckoning from storefront windows, a civilized spectacle compared with the scene on the streets closer to the river, where the come-ons are much more aggressive. The Grosse Freiheit packs more sleaze into its two blocks than do most cities: It's the home of anything-goes shows, though the posters and decor seem to date from a simpler age of shock and are almost kitschy today.

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