Views of Bremen at Springtime

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

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.

Bremen Berlin wall

A segment of the Berlin Wall set up as a memorial. The building in the background is the so-called overseas museum.

Bremen Domshof

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.

Bremer Bank Domshof

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.

Bremen Bremer Landesbank ruin

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.

Bremen St. Petri Dom

And here we finally have the church itself, the romanesque St. Petri cathedral.

Bremen St. Petri Dom

The front of the St. Petri Cathedral. The statue on the left depicts Otto von Bismarck on horseback.

Bremen Roland

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.

Bremen market square

Houses at Bremen market square. These buildings may look medieval, but are actually postwar reconstructions of buildings destroyed during WWII.

Bremen Schütting

The Schütting, a Renaissance building that was formerly the guild house of the merchants’ guild and now houses the chamber of commerce.

Bremen Schütting

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.

Bremen market square

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.

Bremen townhall

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.

Bremen townhall

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.

Bremen new town hall

The new town hall is directly adjacent to the old one and was build in 1913 in a deliberatly historical style.

Bremen new town hall

A closer look at the turret of the new town hall, topped by a golden statue called the Bride of the Wind.

Bremen town musicians

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.

Bremen donation manhole

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.

Bremen Gesche Gottfried stone

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.

Bremen Spitzer Giebel

The restaurant “Spitzer Giebel” (pointed gable), a medieval building nestled between more modern buildings. The light reflections come from another building across the street.

Bremen heart stones

The exterior of the “Spitzer Giebel” is decorated with historical hearthstones, stone or iron plates which once decorated the insides of fireplaces.

Bremen Balge monument

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.

Bremen Böttcherstraße

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.

Bremen cotton exchange

These spectacular mosaics adorn the lobby of the Bremen Cotton Exchange.

Bremen cotton exchange

Another of the mosaics in the lobby of the Bremen Cotton Exchange. The mosaics and the building date from 1906.

Bremen Sögestraße

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.

Bremen Wall

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.

Bremen Schlachthof

The Schlachthof, a Victorian slaughterhouse turned concert and theatre venue. Note the wind turbine on the chimney.

Bremen Stadthalle

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.

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6 Responses to Views of Bremen at Springtime

  1. You intrigued me with the shot of Bremer Roland, so I just read up on both the statue and the character. Fascinating. That statue dates back to 1404, and Roland was quite the legendary hero.

    • Cora says:

      There are Roland statues in many German cities (here is a shot of another Roland in the city of Halle), probably because he was such a big hero, but Bremen’s is the biggest. Though it’s no longer entirely original. The head was replaced – the original is now on display in the city museum. Ditto for the statues of the prince electors from the townhall facade – the originals are in the museum to protect them from erosion due to air pollution. The wrought iron fence around the statue is also a latter addition (sometime in the 1980s) to protect the statue from vandalism. When I was a kid, it was still possible to touch the Roland’s spiked knees for good luck. That ceased after someone broke off one of the knee spikes.

      Because the Roland statue is a symbol of Bremen’s independence, there also is a smaller Roland set up on another square in the city as well as a wooden replica of the original Roland, that serves as a replacement, should the original ever be destroyed. The wooden replica is also at the city museum and in worse shape than the original.

      During our annual autumn fair, Roland gets a gingerbead heart put round his neck, so he can join in with the celebrations going on all around him.

  2. Stunning pictures, Cora.
    I love the little historical tidbits that make them all the more interesting.

    On another note: I just hope that we won’t have to pay for this early spring with a rainy summer.

    • Cora says:

      Glad you liked the pictures and historical tidbits, Andrew, especially considering you come from a supremely beautiful city yourself.

      I’m also a bit worried whether the early spring will mean a rainy summer or whether one late night of frost will kill off all the flowers that have come out too early.

  3. Sherwood Smith says:

    Great pictures as always!

    I had never heard of Gesche. Wow. (The English in that wikipedia entry is so peculiar it kind of adds a demented theme.)

    • Cora says:

      Gesche Gottfried is mostly a locally infamous figure these days, though her story was a lot more widely known in the 19th and early 20th century. Not Jack the Ripper level infamous, but she did have her own dictionary entry. Actually, I’m a bit surprised that with our contemporary obsession with serial killers, neither Gesche Gottfried nor Fritz Haarmann, the butcher of Hannover are more widely known. BTW, when I was a kid, my Mom often sang folksongs to me, including one about Haarmann who will come with the meat cleaver to make liverwurst out of the singer. I suspect she got it from her own Mom, who was a child when Haarmann committed his murders.

      Glad you like the pictures BTW.

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