Today, I drove into Bremen for some shopping and to take a stroll across our Christmas market, supposedly the prettiest in North Germany, and soak up the Christmas atmosphere.
I had my camera with me and so I took some photos, especially since I realized that I never posted any photos of Bremen on this blog before. But then, you rarely take photos in your own hometown.
First, here are some general impressions of the Christmas market and decorations. Tomorrow then I’ll take a closer look at one of our most interesting bits of architecture:
This medieval pirate village, which stretches along the river Weser, is a newish addition to the more traditional Christmas market in the city centre. Of course, the invasion of friendly pirates at the riverside boulevard Schlachte completely ignores the fact that historically, the city of Bremen in general and the Schlachte in particular was not a good place for pirates at all. In fact, the city council used to chop off the heads of captured pirates right here at the Schlachte in hanseatic times. A few years ago, they found a bunch of chopped off skulls while dredging the river Weser.
The pirates camped out at the Schlachte have brought some plunder to sell. Here’s a stand selling nothing but bells and musical instruments. Other plundered goods sold by the pirates include rare spices, gothic style jewelery and loose incense. As a result, pagans and cooking enthusiasts flock to the pirate village to snap up things that are otherwise hard to find.
A view down the Obernstraße, our main shopping street, towards the St. Petri Dom (“Dom” means “cathedral” in Germany) with Christmas illuminations. The large brick building on the left with the stars on the roof is the Karstadt department store.
A view across the main Christmas market on the Market Square with the Renaissance town hall in the background. The entire market square of Bremen is a Unesco World Heritage site.
The side entrance of the town hall flanked by two bronze knights. The structure on the right is one of the biggest stands on the Christmas market and sells Christmas tree decorations.
Another view across the Christmas market on the Market Square with the town hall, the Victorian Bremer Bank building in the background, the St. Petri Dom and the hideous 1960s buildings that houses the city parliament.
The St. Petri Dom, main cathedral of the city of Bremen. Construction on the current Dom began in the 11th century, though there has been a church on this spot since 789 AD. It was not completed until 1901. Most of the Dom was built in the Romanesque style, though you also get gothic and even neogothical elements. The Dom used to be the seat of the archbishop of Bremen, but has been Lutheran Protestant since the Reformation. Bodies buried in the crypt have been found to mummify and are now exhibited as one of the more ghoulish attractions the city has to offer.
Nestled against the massive Romanesque walls of the Dom church, you can see this near life-size manger scene.
The giant Roland statue stands in the middle of the Market Square as symbol of and guarantee for the freedom and independence of the city of Bremen. Roland stares defiantly at the cathedral as a symbolic defense against the influence of the church. This Roland is actually a replica (can’t take chances that the symbol of independence and freedom might be destroyed) – the original is in the city museum. The inscription on the house in the background reads “Remember the brothers who bear the fate of our separation” and was installed in the 1950s as a memorial for the postwar division of Germany. A lot of people, including me, think it’s outdated not to mention sexist (What of the sisters?), but the city council voted to keep it there.
Another part of the Christmas market with the Church of Our Lady in the background.
The “Elchbar” (Moose Bar), a popular Christmas market attraction due to its singing and talking animatronic moose.
Stands selling mulled wine, eggnog and punch are among the most popular on German Christmas markets. This one is called “The Distillery”. Note the huge copper kettles in which the punch of brewed.
The “Hexenküche” (Witches’ kitchen), a stand selling gingerbread hearts and sweets.
This stand sells Christmas tree ornaments.
The Christmas market has squeezed the regular market somewhat aside, but it’s still there, as evidenced by this festively decorated fruit stand.
Christmas pyramids are wooden Christmas decorations made in the Erzgebirge region of Germany. This giant Christmas pyramid adorns the Bremen Christmas market. Like many other stands on the Christmas market, the pyramid is also present on our autumn fair Freimarkt. However, at the Freimarkt, the festive decorations have been replaced by life-sized pirate statues, while the bottom tier houses a bar.
A festively decorated merry-go-round on the Christmas market. This particular carousel has been a fixture of the Bremen Freimarkt and Christmas market for more than forty years. I used to ride it when I was a little kid. The train and the fire engine were my favourites.
A festively decorated ferris wheel. The building in the background is the Bremer Bank, a gorgeous Victorian building.
The “Happy Sailor”, another classic carousel that pretty much everybody who grew up in the Bremen area in the past fifty years has ridden at least once. Note the seasonal decorations.
These fairy light studded candelabra adorn several Bremen streets at Christmas time.
The Sögestraße, Bremen’s other main shopping street, in full Christmas illumination. On the right we have again the Karstadt department store.