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Monday, March 18, 2013

Bremen- A Hanseatic City & Free State

…And my hometown where I grew up. I still have an aunt and cousins there but our former granny flat is no longer available. Therefore we needed a hotel. That plus the rental car we picked up in Hamburg were the first real costs after our transatlantic flight. 
Bremen, with a population of over 500,000 is one of  the 16 Bundeslaender (states) in the German federation. The only other "free town-state" is Hamburg, also part of the Hanseatic League. Its main claim to fame is that it's the home of the Town Musicians of Bremen, a fairytale recorded by the Brothers Grimm.
In case you don't remember it from your childhood: “In the story a donkey, a dog, a cat, and a rooster, all past their prime years in life and usefulness on their respective farms, were soon to be discarded or mistreated by their masters. One by one they leave their homes and set out together. They decide to go to Bremen, known for its freedom, to live without owners and become musicians there. ("Something better than death we can find anywhere.") Thank you, Wikipedia!

Its famous sculpture of these 4 animals stands in its main square adjacent to the city’s magnificent Rathaus (town hall) and Dom (Cathedral). The main hall in the Rathaus is most impressive with its heavy woodwork carved hundreds of years ago showing the splendor of the Hanseatic League’s hayday.  

The Cathedral , a Gothic building built between 11th-13th century revealed a gruesome find in 1698. In its basement, two mummified corpses were found: presumably roofers who had fallen off the roof a long time before, maybe even during its construction. For a long time, scientist thought that the lead used for roofing and the radioactivity that it gave off were responsible for their mummification. Current thinking is that it was a natural desiccation process of the two corpses that were forgotten there.

When I was a child, they were still on show in the cellar, now they are housed in the Dom’s museum.

The old part of the city is a real medieval town in itself: It’s called The Schnoor, and well worth the walk through it over by the side of the river Weser: Full if intriguing artisan shop and boutiques as well as coffee shops and restaurants. No surprise, you’ll encounter many tourists.

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