Breathing in the history of Bremen

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July 29th 2018
Published: August 5th 2018
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We took a train trip Amsterdam to Bremen with one train change. We suffered the first hour in carriage non-working air conditioning then along came this lovely assistant offering to transfer us to the next carriage - aah the bliss of cool air and random acts of kindness. Our hotel is just across the tram tracks from the railway station. Lovely room (with air conditioning this time). There was actually a splash of rain too although it didn’t really cool things down. The heat didn’t prevent us from exploring the many attractions of Bremen. To the west of the town hall stands the most famous representation of the Bremen Town Musicians, the bronze sculpture created in 1951 by the artist Gerhard Marcks. The old town is filled with history and fairytale magic being the place of the Grimm Brothers' best known tale of The Town Musicians of Bremen. There are signs of the donkey, the dog, the cat and the rooster everywhere. From the statue alongside the Rathaus to the souvenir tea towels and story books, their presence was everywhere. The town hall was built between 1405 and 1410 with a Weser Renaissance facade added in the 117th centre. This beautiful town hall is a listed UNESCO World Heritage site; as is the Roland statue which is the most representative and oldest examples. There are Roland statues in many German towns and cities symbolising freedom and market rights. Measuring five and a half metres (with a baldachin bringing the total height up to just over ten meters), the stone giant was erected in 1404, after its wooden predecessor was destroyed by the archbishop’s soldiers in 1366. The distance between its knees is exactly one Bremen 'elle’ a historical unit of measurement The statue symbolised the freedom and independence of the city. Roland carries a shield bearing a coat of arms with the double-headed imperial eagle and the inscription:

Vryheit do ik yu openbar de karl und mennich vorst vorwar desser stede ghegheven hat.Roughly translated, this means “I manifest your freedom, as granted to this city by Charlemagne and many other rulers. “Freedom" refers to the city’s imperial immediacy, a form of sovereignty. Charlemagne was the 9th century Holy Roman Emperor. “And many other rulers” refers to the privileges and rights granted to the city of Bremen by a number of kings, princes and prince-bishops between n the 9th and 14th century.15th and 16th century half-timbered houses line the narrow lanes in the Schnoor district which were a pleasure to stroll through and the craft shops, galleries and souvenir stores appeal to locals and visitors alike. We found a cute Swiss cafe “Edel Weiss” next door which had air-conditioning, local beer and a traditional dish of pork, gravy and red cabbage with a potato dumpling. This was a bit too stodgy for me although the red cabbage was quite plummy and delicious. As I have been suffering with a nasty cough and cold (probably due to airplane bug) I just had to have the Prosecco on Ice too- very soothing for a sore throat. I’m not sure if it was the Prosecco or the coolness but it made me feel better. Such interesting decor in the cafe which although it had the obligatory red/white gingham tablecloths and farming implements, it also had a video of two cows looking through the cafe window whist munching on hay. Yes, the Bulls were dining with the cows! A little bit disconcerting but fun. Eight bronze pigs welcome visitors to the city centre and children (and some adults) cannot resist making a wish whilst holding on to the pig's tail. And then there is the fountain of the seven lazy brothers who turned out to be very smart and not lazy at all. As sons of a farmer they could find no work in Bremen and went out into the world. Returning some years later, they dug ditches, drained fields and constructed a dyke to prevent flooding. The fountain in the courtyard of the Paula Becker Modershon House in Böttcherstrasse, depicts them as alway but maybe they are just enjoying a well earned rest. I recommend Bremen as a great combination of historical buildings, statues and modern sculptures depicting both history and old legends.. Well worth a visit - stay a few days to fully appreciate the relaxed atmosphere and history of this attractive city.

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