Why visit Bremen? Because it is home to the largest wine cellar in the world!

Bremen actually has the largest wine cellar in the world, but that is not even the most interesting fact about this city. I first heard about Bremen in a fairy tale translated into Afrikaans (my mother tongue) called The 4 Musicians of Bremen. Five year old me promised myself that I will experience this city for myself.

A lot of friends told me they usually fly from Bremen or travel through Bremen but they don’t ever stay over and explore Bremen. Even friends originally from Germany. I decided to stay a few days. This city gets hold of your soul and makes it difficult to leave. I will never travel past Bremen without staying at least two nights.

What makes this city so magical? The detail! With Bremen the devil is in the detail. It is also surprisingly easy to navigate, widely available WiFi spots, and then there are those 4 musicians that are hidden all over the city making for an exciting and satisfying treasure hunt. Fairy tales aside, the people of Bremen are extremely proud of the city’s history, and rightfully so. Independence is a recurring theme in the history of Bremen dating back AD 787, when Charlemagne elevated Bremen to the status of diocese. Two hundred years later the Emperor, Karl Otto I, bestowed Bremen market privilege. This privilege paved the way for urban trade to develop and saw the town blossom into a city. Bremen developed economically and the merchant class succeeded in gaining influence over the archbishop.

Bremen’s traditional emblem, the Roland, is an illustration of the city’s struggle for independence. Bremen’s council had the Roland stone statue built in 1404 within view of the archiepiscopal cathedral – cheeky. It was designed as a symbol of freedom and sent a powerful message that Bremen’s patricians wanted control over the city. In 1646 Bremen was declared a free imperial city. Bremen in all its splendor has grown into a destination where different aspects of history, tradition, science, cutting-edge tech, and space travel come together to form a fascinating whole.

The pulse of the city

I decided to stay in the heart of the city where you can feel it’s pulse. My accommodation was humble but pleasant. I was not planning on spending a lot of time indoors anyway. I was greeted with beautiful wallpaper. The folkart around Germany and Bremen bleed through to my own creative attempts. My breakfast was quite colossal considering that is was a buffet-style serving.


The Streets – Bremen Version

You can lose yourself while exploring the streets of Bremen, and that was exactly what I did on my first evening. I set out to find the statue of the four town musicians created by sculptor Gerhard Marcks, and I came across four real life musicians. They pulled on my heartstrings and my soul adding a skip to my step as their music pulled me far away.

Bremen’s Marktplatz is easily one of the most beautiful in Europe with impressive historical buildings. There is the Gothic Roland Statue, a knight symbolizing Bremen’s free city status, erected in front of the town hall in 1404. The west site holds the bronze Musicians of Bremen statue. Demanding attention at the center of the market square is St Peter’s Cathedral. The Ratzkeller made for a lot of amusement.

At one of the St Peter’s Cathedral chapel towers you can see the nine fragments of the choir stalls carved by hand with episodes from the Bible in 1360. The crypt, the oldest part of the cathedral, dates back to the 11th century. The one creepy thing I stumbled across by accident was eight mummies in glass coffins dating back 400 years. I can’t remember who all of them were, but two were soldiers from the thirty year war. I strongly recommend going up the 89-meter South Tower for an exhilarating view of the city.

Cream Lovers – Best IceCream In Town

A city is only as good as its ice cream. Located in Sögestraße is a place I indulged in more than I should have – Cream Lovers. I loved the vibe, I was overwhelmed by the vast amount of choice, and I never settle for only one scoop. To make matters worse I lived really close by so it was not even like I had to walk far to get my fix. Also, life is like a scoop of ice cream, enjoy it before it melts.

Böttcherstraße and Schnoor Quarter

Böttcherstraße and Schnoor Quarter with the beautiful chocolate-box houses, quint little shops, ateliers, pubs, and galleries. The incredible art, architecture and sculptures stole my heart and emptied my pockets. Böttcherstraße is a 100-meter street that runs towards the Weser from Marktplatz. It was rescued from destruction and transformed by an architectural project during the 1920s. The idea came from the Bremen coffee magnate and inventor of decaf coffee, Ludwig Roselius, who hired the expressionist artist Bernhard Hoetger to bring his vision to life. The results were a spectacular blend of Expressionism, Art Deco and Art Nouveau in line of buildings and courtyards.

I spent hours in the chic shops, ateliers, bars, museums and galleries. It evoked so much happiness in my heart. Also in the hearts of all the people I bought presents for.

The oldest and quaintest neighborhood in Bremen is the little lanes around the Schnoor alley.
Schnoor is the oldest quarter of Bremen and can be dated back to the 15th century. The word ‘Schnoor’ means ‘String’ referring to the fishing communities consisting of tradesmen, crafts and fisherman who lived here making string and rope. It is hard to think that this was once upon a time one of Bremen’s poorest areas. Today, the area consist of a wealth of luxury things from craft shops, to restaurants and cafes. The square is perfect for energetic early morning walks or relaxed, lazy afternoon stroll. Despite its face-lift the maritime theme survives in more than the Schnoor’s name. I would love to own a gallery in one of those pretty timber-framed houses dating back to the 1400s

Mühle am Wall

I absolutely loved wondering the city listening to street music and indulging in street food. The parks are incredible and I wasted many hours reading books or having a picnic at Mühle am Wall, Rhododendron Park and Burger Park. The windmill and the beautiful colours of the flowers surrounding it was simply breathtaking. This windmill has become a treasured landmark of Bremen. The mill was constructed in 1898 and now houses a restaurant. It is worth while grabbing a coffee there while journaling. This is the most recent of a succession of windmills at this very spot, going back to 1699.

The Four Musicians Of Bremen

Earlier I touched on the Four Muscians of Bremen. These musicians were my main motivation for visiting Bremen. It is a pity they never arrived in this magical city. Or maybe they did. The story ends without giving the reader closure. Tributes to the Bremen street musicians are hidden everywhere in the city and it makes for a fun treasure hunt to try and find them. I’ve seen them hidden in shop windows, on dish cloths, on bonbons, water pipes and even cakes. They have also been the muse of many artists, the most famous being the bronze statue by Marcks. The bronze statue is situated to the West of the town hall, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Make sure to rub the front legs of the donkey, rumor has it that it means good luck. Right next to it is a historic pub – the real musician’s local Ratzkeller – where two depictions of the musicians can be seen. As you step out of the pub you can see the musicians pull themselves up yet another pub sign. The town musicians has left their mark all over the city. I hope you have as much fun finding them as I had!

Tea at the Schoor Viertel

Tea is a culture I fully embrace. It was teariffic to take some time, take in the people around me and journal at the Teestuebchen in the Schoor Viertel. This little jem was able to create an ambiance that reflects the historic Schoor Vierel. I will definitely classify it as one of Bremen’s hidden jewels. Bremen is slow moving and most shops only opened around 10am. This pace taught me patience and enjoying the moment in front of me. The cafe smelled of blossoms and citrus. I ordered the local Bremen tea that was a scarlet red colour served in blue and while porcelain cups.

Bremen Hauptbahnof

Bremen’s train station is one of the most important train stations is the city of Bremen. The sculptures on the façade depict the coats of arms of the cities of Bremen and Hamburg. There is a lot of symbolism to be found in this train station. It is also just beautiful to look at.

At the end of my visit I was able to navigate this city like a pro. I was caught in the rain twice and stopped counting how many hidden musician art I came across. I also adapted a slower pace taking time to enjoy my morning coffee and breakfast with the sound of street musicians in the background stringing my soul along. One thing is certain, I will be back!

If you are ever lucky enough to stay in Bremen go see Kunsthallen on Bremen’s culture mile. Kunsthallen is a top art museum run by the private Bremen Art Society for 200 years. You’ll see art dating back to the 1400’s and work from masters such as Van Gogh, Max Liebermann, Camille Corot, Andreas Achenbach, Max Beckmann, Franz Marc, Edvard Munch, Alfred Sisley, Lucas Cranach the Elder and Albrecht Dürer.


The Fith Musician Who Actually Made It To Bremen

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