Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrBremen is the tenth-largest city in Germany and the third-largest city in the region of Northern Germany after Berlin and Hamburg. It is located on the beautiful River Weser, and is an important center of commerce and industry, where Airbus aircraft, Mercedes-Benz automobiles, Beck’s beers, and dozens of other famous products are produced. Its metropolitan area is home to nearly 2.5 million people.
HistoryBremen’s first stone walls were constructed in the year 1032, and the city’s population flourished soon after. For several centuries, Bremen was part of the Hanseatic League , a widespread group of merchant guilds and towns that protected their economic interests with their own legal system and armies which included cities such as London, Antwerp , Kraków, Riga, Cologne, and Hamburg. Bremen was important due to its port, which was used for the trade of raw materials like timber, as well as products like grain, coffee, and tobacco. For much of its history it was an independent city-state, though it briefly became part of the French Empire in the early 1800s following an invasion by Napoleon. Today, it is part of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen, which is the smallest state in Germany.
SightseeingThere’s plenty to see and do in Bremen, whether you’re just stopping into the city on a day trip or are spending a few days.
Bremen City HallBremen City Hall, known as Bremer Rathaus in German, is a beautiful Gothic building that was constructed in the early 1400s and is known for its majestic Renaissance-style façade that was built in the early 1600s. It is the seat of the Mayor of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen, and is considered to be one of the most notable examples of Brick Gothic architecture in all of Europe.
The City Hall is also home to the Bremen Ratskeller, one of the oldest wine cellars in Germany, which contains some of the oldest wines in existence. Visitors are welcome to visit the wine cellar, which was constructed in 1405, to taste its wines or enjoy a meal in its restaurant.
MarktplatzThe market square, located in front of Bremen City Hall, is the heart of the city. Each year, it is home to the city’s Christmas market and the Freimarkt, one of the oldest fairs in the world. The Freimarkt, or “Free Fair” in English, has been celebrated since the year 1035, and takes place during the last two weeks of October.
One of the most famous features of the Marktplatz is the Bremen Roland , a statue of Roland, a military leader under Charlemagne, who is considered to be the protector of the city and is seen throughout Germany as a symbol of independence. Since 2004, the Bremen Roland and the Bremen City Hall have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Marktplatz is also home to several other notable historic buildings, including the former Rathscafé, now known as the “Deutsches Haus”, with its large inscription featuring a quote by former mayor, Wilhelm Kaisen. Other buildings include the Raths-Apotheke, a beautiful gabled apothecary, and the Haus der Stadtsparkasse, which is now used as a bank.
Die Stadtmusikanten StatueAnother famous statue in Bremen is Die Stadtmusikanten, known as the “Town Musicians” in English, which depicts a rooster, cat, dog, and donkey standing upon each other. It represents the main characters of the Town Musicians of Bremen , a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, who leave their farms to be musicians in Bremen, a city known for its freedom. According to local legend, touching the front hooves of the donkey is lucky, which is why tourists often line up to have their photo taken with the statue.
Bremen CathedralAlso located on the Marktplatz, Bremer Dom, as it is known in German, is dedicated to St. Peter and is known for its beautiful façade with its twin 99-meter tall towers. It is decorated with exquisite depictions of the Crucifixion of Christ, while its interior holds fascinating artifacts such as hand-carved choir stalls that date back to the 14th century, and the pulpit, which was given to the people of Bremen by Queen Christina of Sweden in 1638.
Glockenspiel HouseThe Glockenspiel House, or Haus des Glockenspiels in German, is a building on the city’s famous Böttcherstraße, which features a glockenspiel with 30 bells made from Meissen porcelain and rotating wood panels that feature famous seafarers and aviators, including Christopher Columbus and Charles Lindbergh. It chimes every hour between 12:00 and 18:00 each day, except during January, February, and March, when it only chimes at 12:00, 15:00, and 18:00.
Kunsthalle BremenArt lovers will want to visit Kunsthalle Bremen, an art museum which contains an impressive collection of European artwork from the 14th century to the present day, including sculptures, paintings by artists such as Monet, Cézanne, and Manet, as well as prints, drawings, and new media artwork by artists like Olafur Eliasson.
Beck’s BreweryIf you love beer, then you’ll want to visit Beck’s Brewery to take a tour of the brewhouse. Visitors are able to take guided tours of the brewery, learn about the fermentation process of the world’s best-selling German beer, visit the museum, and conclude their visit with beer tasting.
Universum BremenOne of Bremen’s most popular museums is Universum Bremen, an interactive science museum. It contains over 300 hands-on exhibits related to nature, technology, and humans. It is also known for its distinctive architecture, which features 40,000 stainless steel scales which are said to make it resemble a whale or a mussel.
LiebfrauenkircheThe Liebfrauenkirche, or “Church of Our Lady” in English, is the oldest church in Bremen. It was first constructed in the early 11th century, though the crypt is the only remaining artifact of the original church, while the rest of the building was constructed during the 12th and 13th centuries. It is known for its beautiful, stained glass windows, which were designed by renowned French artist, Alfred Manessier.
SchlachteThe Schlachte is a popular promenade along the bank of the River Weser which is known for its wonderful selection of beer gardens and restaurants. Visitors can also take riverboat tours along the Weser or enjoy special events like regattas, festivals, and flea markets in the summertime.
CuisineThere are dozens of great places to eat in Bremen, featuring dishes from a large number of international cuisines. If you’ve never tried German cuisine before, you should definitely take advantage of the opportunity to try some traditional German items in Bremen. Make sure to try kluten, a traditional sweet from Bremen, which consists of peppermint-flavored cubes partially covered in chocolate. You can buy them from many shops, including the chocolatier Hachez near the City Hall.
Other traditional foods from the region include fish like smoked eel and herring, an old sailor’s meal known as labskaus which includes corned beef, mashed potatoes, onion, and fried egg, and desserts like butterkuchen, a cake made with almonds.
AccommodationBremen has a wide selection of accommodation to choose from, including youth hostels, budget hotels, and luxury hotels. Most hostels and hotels are located in the city center, near the train station or the historic Old Town area. Hotel prices start at approximately €40 ($46), and average between €70 ($81) and €80 ($92) per night for mid-range hotels. Hostels, on the other hand, generally cost somewhere between €20 ($23) and €30 ($35) per person per night.
ShoppingThere are several different shopping areas in Bremen that are well worth a visit, including historic neighborhoods and streets, open-air markets, and shopping centers.
SchnoorThe Schnoor neighborhood is known for its historic lanes that are lined with cafés, artisan shops, art galleries, and other boutiques. Originally, many of its 17th and 18th century buildings were the homes of local fishermen and shippers.
BöttcherstraßeBöttcherstraße is a historic street that leads from the Marktplatz which is known for its unique mixture of Art Nouveau and Gothic architecture that was deemed “degenerate art” by the Nazis. It is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions due to its beautiful architecture, art museums, artisan shops, restaurants, and bars.
Other shopping areas in Bremen include open-air markets often found in the city squares around the City Hall, shop-lined streets such as Obernstrasse and Sögestrasse, and Waterfront Bremen, a large shopping center filled with over 80 shops, restaurants, and a cinema.
TransportationWhile Bremen is one of Germany’s largest cities, it has the charm of a small city and is best explored on foot. If you prefer to get around faster, you can rent a bike from the train station or from one of the city’s many bike shops. It is considered by many to be the largest bicycle-friendly city in Germany. It also has an extensive public transportation network which includes both buses and trams, which are both quite cheap to use. Other transportation options include taxis and the Cambio car-share company, which is based in Bremen.
In terms of getting to and from the city, for air travel there is Bremen Airport, an international airport which provides services to numerous domestic and European destinations. Bremen also has a train station with frequent services to nearby cities such as Hamburg, Hanover, Osnabrück, and Münster. Other options include car-share services, which are often quite cheap, and bus services to cities throughout Europe through companies like Eurolines.
SafetyGermany is a very safe country where crime is quite rare. There is not much need to worry in a smaller city like Bremen as long as you use common sense by doing things like not showing off lots of money, keeping your belongings with you, and not walking alone in secluded areas like parks at night.
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Author: ehuttner. Last updated: Apr 02, 2015