Photos: Leer in East Frisia

Yesterday was Ascension Day a.k.a. Father’s Day, which is a public holiday in Germany.

Ascension Day is traditionally a day for outings, including the infamous Father’s Day tours where groups of young men, most of whom are not fathers, set out with handcarts and/or bicycles to wander around the countryside and get very very drunk. I talk a bit more about this tradition in this 2013 post.

In addition to being a public holiday, yesterday also had some very sunny and pleasant weather and as a result, the streets were full of people of all ages and genders enjoying themselves on bicycles, motorbikes or on foot.

Because of the nice weather and the fact that it was a public holiday, we also decided to go on a trip to East Frisia. Our first destination was the city of Leer, a lovely little town located on a sidearm of the river Ems. Afterwards, we followed the river Ems and visited the Ems flood barrier at Gandersum.

Of course, I also took photos. We’ll start with the town of Leer and I’ll post the photos of the Ems flood barrier tomorrow.

Leer is quite an interesting town. It only became a city in 1823, but the settlement is more than a thousand years old, located in an area that has been inhabited since the stone age. Leer is not particularly big, it only has about 35000 inhabitants, but roughly twenty percent of the German merchant fleet have Leer as its port of registration.

Leer harbour

A view across Leer city harbour, located on the river Leda, a side arm of the river Ems. This is not the actual seaport, but a harbour for pleasure boats.

Leer Neptune

This wooden statue of Neptune sits on top of a bollar in the harbour of Leer. It looks as if Neptune has an unfortunate accident and impaled himself on his own trident.

Leer harbour

A view across the bow of a former harbour barge refurbished into a pleasure boat with a three-master in the background. Note the baby seals.

Leer harbour promenade

Another look along the harbour promenade (which is named after the CEO of a tea import company – more on that later).

Leer folding bridge

A folding bridge with the bridge control house.

Leer storehouse

An old storehouse on the harbour promenade has been transformed into a cultural events space. It also has a garden with a cherry tree in full bloom.

Apple blossoms

A close-up look at some apple blossoms. Just because…

Leer tugboat

A vintage harbour tugboat built in 1924. This tugboat was in service until 1993, i.e. almost 70 years.

Leer May pole

This historical building at the harbour of Leer once housed the town scales. Nowadays, it is an upscale restaurant called “Zur Waage und zur Börse” (The scales and the exchange). In front of the building, there is a traditional May pole

Leer townhall

The striking Neorenaissance townhall of Leer, built in 1894.

More information about the townhall of Leer may be found here.

Leer Reformed church

A neogothic townhouse and the tower of the Great Reformed Church in the background.

Leer great reformed church

Another look at the tower of the Great Reformed Church. The tower was built in 1804, though the church itself is older. The interior is quite plain, because the reformed churches eschew ornamentation.

For obvious historical reasons, most German protestants are Lutherans, but we also have approximately 188000 members of reformed churches. Most of these are found in Northwest Germany. The reformed churches have been traditionally strong in Frisia, both in Dutch West Frisia and German East Frisia. The congregration in Leer is one of the biggest reformed churches in Germany.

Leer storehouse

A beautifully restored store and merchant house along the harbour promenade.

Leer Samson house

The striking baroque townhouse was built in 1643. Since 1800, it has been occupied by the wine merchant J.W. Wolff.

Leer also happens to be the tea capital of Germany and is home to the Bünting group, one of Germany’s biggest tea importers (they also own a few supermarket chains). For while most Germans prefer coffee, East Frisia is all about tea and has its own special tea blends, called Ostfriesentee, its own tea ceremony (described here and here) and even the tea china and cutlery (which is actually made in Bremen) to go with it.

Bünting tea museum

This historical townhouse in the centre Leer houses the Bünting tea museum.

Leer Teelke

This statue of a young woman carrying a tea pot and offering a cup of tea is called Teelke, the tea girl. In the background, you can see the flagship store of the Bünting company. The actual Bünting tea factory and head office are located outside the city, but this townhouse was where it all started back in 1803.

Leer fountain

A fountain depicting two playing children on the Ernst Reuter Platz, named after a former mayor of Berlin who spent his childhood and teen years in Leer.

Leer Tatort Taraxacum

Tatort Taraxacum (Crime scene Taraxacum) is a crime and mystery bookshop/café/literary events space.

Here is the website of Tatort Taraxacum BTW, which seems to be a pretty awesome place. The building also houses the Leda-Verlag, a small press specialising in regional crime fiction as well as historical fiction set in East Frisia and the German coast in general. In general, I spotted quite a few independent bookstores in Leer, especially considering that the city isn’t all that big.

Leer colourful townhouse

This early twentieth century townhouse is decorated with some very colourful murals.

We also had lunch in Leer. And since we were in East Frisia, we of course had fish. So here is my lunch:


My lunch: Rosefish filet with horseraddish cream sauce, duchess potatoes and salad.

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