A colorful art alley, the traditional Schnoorviertel, a mega-cult neighborhood, and highlights around the beautiful market square - there is much more to discover in Bremen than just the famous animal town musicians. Here are five sights that everyone must have seen.
It is the jewel on the market square, the "good parlor" of Bremen: the over 600 years ago built and City Hall almost unchanged until today. The Gothic building was erected between 1405 and 1409 and the Renaissance facade set in front of it was completed in 1612 with lavish stonemasonry, with reliefs, mythical animals and figures as far as the eye can see. The interior is no less magnificent. A must-see: the Güldenkammer, designed by artist Heinrich Vogeler in the purest Art Nouveau style. The Upper Hall is Bremen's banqueting hall and today serves, among other things, as the backdrop for the famous Shepherd's Meal, the oldest brotherly feast in the world.
Since 2004, the town hall has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site, just like its neighbor, Roland. This 10-meter-high sculpture stands in the middle of the market square, wearing wavy hair, chain mail and a sword - this is how it has watched over the freedom and rights of the city since 1404. It represents Charlemagne's nephew, who was celebrated as a folk hero in the Middle Ages, and was declared the most beautiful Roland monument in Germany by UNESCO experts. To finish, you can then well visit the Bremen Ratskeller visit - German wines have been served there since 1405.
Everyone wants to see them, these oddball music freaks. West of the town hall stands the famous animal pyramid of donkey, dog, cat and rooster. It symbolizes the fairy tale of four domestic animals who set out to find happiness. This was at a time when escaping to the city was considered a way out of servitude. In 1819, the fairy tale of the Bremen Town Musicians was first noted down by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. The story of the four wild journeymen made Bremen famous - even though the animals in the legend did not even make it to the Hanseatic city.
As a result, visitors repeatedly wandered through the city in vain search of the famous four. In 1951, the Bremen Tourist Office therefore commissioned the sculptor Gerhard Marcks (1889-1981) to create a sculpture. Today, the Bremen Town Musicians are among the number one sights and the first selfie stop. By the way, if you embrace the donkey's two bronze front legs, it's said to bring you luck. Whereby one should not disregard hygienic measures...
The name Schnoor means something like string in Low German. No wonder, because here burgher houses from the 15th to 18th centuries are strung together like a string of pearls. Only a good 300 meters as the crow flies from the market square lies Bremen's oldest district. In the narrow streets, small stores, artisan studios, cafes and restaurants provide a charming flair. In the desert No. 5, for example, you will find the historic "Wedding House" - in the Middle Ages, couples from the countryside used this address for marriage. With its just 48 square meters, today it is one of the smallest hotels in the world.
Entertainment in the Schnoor is provided, among others, by the Packhaustheater, the Theatership Bremen as well as the Story House. The latter has the nickname "living museum". Visitors are accompanied here during the tour by actors who represent old Bremen personalities. Among them is also Heini Holtenbeen (wooden leg), who lived in Schnoor from 1835 to 1909 and spoke only Platt. Due to an accident he had a stiff leg, which earned him his nickname - and he was well-known in the city because he always bummed tobacco on the market square. Today, near the Weser, a monument commemorates this original.
Bremen's expressionist art alley was initiated by local coffee merchant Ludwig Roselius. The man who invented decaffeinated coffee in Bremen wanted an ensemble of commerce, art and pleasure for his city. Between 1922 and '31, his wish was realized by two architects and sculptor Bernhard Hoetger. The houses on the 108 meter short Böttcherstraße were largely dilapidated at the time and were actually to be demolished. Roselius had them gradually repaired, thus transforming the street into a synthesis of architecture and traditional craftsmanship.
In the old Bremen patrician house of the 16th century with the house numbers 6 to 10 is hidden today the Ludwig Roselius Museum, which displays arts and crafts from the Middle Ages to the Baroque. Also the Paula Modersohn-Becker Museum has a permanent place here; the painter (1876-1907) is considered a pioneer of modernism and was the first woman in the world to be given her own permanent exhibition in Böttcherstrasse. Also nice to look at and listen to is the house of the carillon - every full hour sounds 30 Meissen porcelain bells, and in parallel ten carved wooden panels rotate on the front of the house, depicting ancient seafarers.
If you like it less touristy, you should go to the "Quarter" walk. From Ostertorsteinweg, we enter this alternative neighborhood. A colorful spray-painted chameleon on the front of a house near the Bremen Theater makes it clear: This neighborhood is colorful! Street art can be found everywhere there.
Individual stores, cafés, vegan restaurants, second-hand stores, cultural centers and art-house cinemas abound here. Many Bars and pubs attract partygoers in the evening. The "Bermuda Triangle" consisting of the streets Fehrfeld, Römerstraße and Humboldtstraße is one of the top nightlife areas, the density of pubs and the liquor variations are enormous here. Bremen newcomers absolutely must try a Krabeldiwandenuff at the "Eisen" - that's the name of a pub at Sielwall 9, which has been playing punk and rock'n'roll for over 25 years and, just like the schnapps, is a real one-off.
How to get to Bremen by train: Plan arrival.
Cover photo: The animal pyramid of the Bremen Town Musicians west of the historic town hall is the landmark of the Hanseatic city on the Weser © WFB/Michael Bahlo
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