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About city What to see Gallery Where to stay

Remember the famous Brothers Grimm folktale The Town Musicians of Bremen and the cartoon based on it? Well, its characters – the cheerful animals and the young troubadour – have become the symbols of the German city of Bremen.

In 1951, the talented sculptor Gerhard Marcks erected a monument near the City Hall depicting the donkey, dog, cat and rooster standing on each other’s backs. Tourists tie colourful strings on the donkey’s hoof in hopes of their dreams coming true.

A modern monument of Neptune, Bremen
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  A modern monument of Neptune, Bremen

Others rush to see how the Musicians of Bremen were rendered in postmodern style – the second sculpture commemorating the famous folktale is located on the other side of the same square, near the Museum of Fine Arts. Some of the locals have tried to “privatise” the city symbol, for example, one of the small, old town restaurants has decorated its entrance with a bas-relief depicting people wearing the Bremen Musicians’ costumes.

The Musicians of Bremen are the best-known popularisers of the city – the solidarity of these folk characters, who were once banished from the city, symbolises the locals’ unity in fighting for independence and the right to live autonomously.

A sculpture for the Musicians of Bremen
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  A sculpture for the Musicians of Bremen

For centuries, Bremen was a free city – a status it managed to preserve until becoming a part of the German Empire in 1871. It was a Hanseatic city, populated by wealthy merchants and tradesmen. The wealth of the city is attested to by its luxurious buildings: the exquisite City Hall, ancient churches and merchant guild quarters. Everything is sedate, classy and expensive.

Today, with its 550,000 inhabitants and the neighbouring Bremerhaven, (home to around 116,000 people) Bremen belongs to the smallest German federal state. This fact, however, does not in any way lessen the city – historians consider it to be one of the oldest state structures in the world (after all, Bremen was founded by the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne as early as 787), while economists deem it the second most important contemporary German harbour.

The city is situated on the coast of the grand River of Weser. In the 19th century, when the river was made wider and deeper, the Bremen trade harbour became capable of welcoming even the largest of ocean vessels. Every year, the harbour admits over 10,000 ships, and since 1983, it also has the world’s largest container terminal.

Bremen
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Bremen

The Bremen Market Square is considered to be one of the most beautiful squares in Germany and even the whole of Europe. It’s surrounded with many great historical buildings, the most impressive of which is the Renaissance-style City Hall, decorated with many sculptures and ornamental arches.

For centuries, the City Hall cellar has been known for its wines – here you’ll find the largest and oldest wine collection in all of Germany. Visitors can choose from 600 different brands.

In front of the City Hall, under a Gothic canopy you should spot the sculpture of Roland – built in 1404, it’s a true symbol of the city’s freedom and autonomy. During the Middle Ages, similar heroic sculptures were erected in town squares to protect them against wars and plagues. The nearly ten-metre-tall Bremen Roland is the highest of them all. Both the sculpture and Bremen’s City Hall are protected by UNESCO.

The Schnoor Quarter is one of the most impressive places in Bremen. It’s a true painter’s mecca, where ancient buildings stand so close to each other that it seems as though they’re held by invisible string. Here you’ll find many souvenir shops and trade workshops where everything is still made by hand. To retain the colourfulness of Schnoor, the city government rents out its space on preferential conditions.

Colourful houses in the historic Schnoorviertel neighbourhood, Bremen
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Colourful houses in the historic Schnoorviertel neighbourhood, Bremen

This quarter is home to the world’s smallest hotel (it has only two rooms), a Christmas toy store that’s open year-round, a popular cat café and many other famous places. It’s also teeming with small restaurants that serve traditional (mostly fish) dishes. Fish in Bremen is always fresh and very tasty.

Many visitors and locals also love the famous Böttcherstraße with its impressive houses, windmills-turned-museums, and the Rhododendron and Bürger parks.

What to see

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