I had to take my Mom to Bremen today, because it turned out that our local suburban bank cannot procure Malaysian ringgits within four days (which is when my Dad is supposed to fly to Malaysia to oversee the repairs of a crane), so we tried a bigger bank in the city centre, which was able to procure Malaysian ringgits within four days, but only for a minimum sum of 1000 Euros. Apparently, I was mistaken in thinking this was 2014, since the banks still seem to be stuck in 1984.
Mom and I also had lunch at the Übersee Restaurant. We both had spicy African lentil soup, then Mom had some kind of fish with cabbage and gnocchi, while I had curry of beetroot and Swiss chard.
Since the weather has been unseasonably warm and sunny this past week, I also took along my camera for some springtime views of Bremen, so enjoy:
Bremen central station, its beautiful Victorian facade somewhat marred by a banner protesting nuclear power in rememberance of the Fukushima disaster. They actually blocked off the main entrance, untilthey could get the banner down.
A segment of the Berlin Wall set up as a memorial. The building in the background is the so-called overseas museum.
The daily farmer’s market at the Domshof square. In the front, there is a stand selling homemade jams, marmalade, fruit juice and fruit brandy. In the background you can see the stunning Deutsche Bank buildings made of red limestone. According to family legend, my grandfather was offered to purchase the building during the great depression, but declined for financial reasons. I keep wishing he’d have bought it.
Detail of the Bremer Bank buildings, now Commerzbank. The Domshof square is something of the financial mile of Bremen, even though the name Domshof means churchyard.
And yet another bank or at least the gutted ruin of one. This building used to be the Bremer Landesbank. The side and rear facades are still standing, but the postwar front facade and the actual building have been demolished.
And here we finally have the church itself, the romanesque St. Petri cathedral.
The front of the St. Petri Cathedral. The statue on the left depicts Otto von Bismarck on horseback.
Directly opposite the cathedral, defiantly staring down the archbishop of Bremen (back when we still had an archibishop) stands Roland, legendary knight of “Song of Roland” fame and symbol of Bremen’s independence. The writing on the building behind Roland says: “Remember the brothers who bear the burden of our separation” and was added in the 1950s as a memorial to the division into East and West Germany and kept on post 1990. Apparently, our sisters did not bear the burden of separation, though I suspect my East German aunts would argue the fact.
Houses at Bremen market square. These buildings may look medieval, but are actually postwar reconstructions of buildings destroyed during WWII.
The Schütting, a Renaissance building that was formerly the guild house of the merchants’ guild and now houses the chamber of commerce.
A closer look at the newly guilded portal of the Schütting. The inscription above the door means “Abroad and in the city – to dare and to win”. In Low German, it even rhymes.
A look across the market square with Bremen’s stunning Renaissance townhall, the Roland and the church of Our Lady. Bremen market square is an Unesco world heritage site.
A closer look at Bremen’s Renaissance townhall. The reliefs above the arches show scenes from city history and the statues flanking the windows above the balcony represent the prince electors of the Holy Roman Empire.
A side view of the townhall with more prince electors, two Roman legionaires guarding the corners of the roof and two knights on horseback guarding the entrance.
The new town hall is directly adjacent to the old one and was build in 1913 in a deliberatly historical style.
A closer look at the turret of the new town hall, topped by a golden statue called the Bride of the Wind.
And here are the famous Bremen town musicians of Grimm’s fairytale fame as sculpted by Gerhard Marcks. This sculpture was only set up in 1953 and was so controversial at the time that it was hidden away in a corner next to the townhall.
This manhole cover is actually a donation box. The inscription reads “Don’t cry, don’t mewl, don’t growl, don’t say ee-yah, but put something into the Bremen hole” and is obviously a reference to the Bremen town musicians. Sometimes, if you put in a coin, you can hear animal sounds from the hole. Or maybe that’s just a legend to get people to put in coins, since I have never heard anything.
One of Bremen’s more bizarre and frequently overlooked sights, the stone marks the spot where the head of Gesche Gottfriend landed after Bremen’s last public execution in 1831. Gesche Gottfriend was a female serial killer who poisoned 15 people with arsenic, including her parents, two husbands and several children. The stains on the stone are saliva, since it is customary to spit on the stone in condemnation of Gesche’s murders. I haven’t spat on the stone in years BTW, ever since I played Gesche in a school play.
More about Gesche Gottfried can be found here.
The restaurant “Spitzer Giebel” (pointed gable), a medieval building nestled between more modern buildings. The light reflections come from another building across the street.
The exterior of the “Spitzer Giebel” is decorated with historical hearthstones, stone or iron plates which once decorated the insides of fireplaces.
This statue of a boy catching fish commemorates the location of Bremen’s first harbour at the Balge, a long vanished side arm of the river Weser.
Berhard Hoetger’s sculpture “The Lightbringer” (really St. George and the Dragon) at the entrance of the Böttcherstraße, an entire city street turned into a piece of expressionist art by an eccentric coffee tycoon.
I did not go through the Böttcherstraße today, because the water company have dug up most of the street to lay pipes. However, you can find lots of photos of Böttcherstraße as well as the history of the street in this post.
These spectacular mosaics adorn the lobby of the Bremen Cotton Exchange.
Another of the mosaics in the lobby of the Bremen Cotton Exchange. The mosaics and the building date from 1906.
The Sögestraße (Swine street) was once the street through which the farmers drove the pigs to market. Nowadays, it’s one of the two main shopping streets. However, this sculpture of a swineherd and his swine still recalls the origins of the street name. The sculpture is very popular with children and pretty much every child in Bremen probably rode the pigs at some point.
The Wall is a park planted on the remnants of the old city moat. Here we have the neo-classical Grecian Urn, one of several monuments and sculpture in the Wall park.
The Schlachthof, a Victorian slaughterhouse turned concert and theatre venue. Note the wind turbine on the chimney.
This example of retro futuristic architecture is the events and convention centre Stadthalle, now officially called ÖVB Arena. It was built between 1961 and 1964.