We booked to visit Bremen, Germany on a whim, trying to make the most of the May bank holiday. We looked on SkyScanner, found the cheapest flight and booked it. And thankfully we had enough Euros left over from Ibiza two years ago that we didn’t need spending money. Bremen is in the North West of Germany, and has plenty of sights easily reachable on foot. The Main Square (Marktplatz) is a hub of tourists, restaurants, historical culture and iconic gothic and renaissance architecture. We spent three days wandering Bremen and discovering what this beautiful city had to offer. Spoiler alert: a lot!
Rathaus – Town Hall
When you first walk into the main public square of Bremen, you are immediately taken aback by the beauty and grand scale of the Town Hall. The building was originally built in the 15th century, the town hall as been given UNESCO World Heritage status since 2004. And it’s easy to see why. The Weser-Renaissance-style town hall is where the city council would meet, and all around there are hints of the building’s dedication to commerce and trade.
St. Peter’s Cathedral
Another grand piece of gothic architecture that catches your eye as you wander into the main square of Bremen. Even as you visit the square time and time again over the course of your trip, the cathedral will continue to take your breath away. The cathedral sits between the Town Hall and the Parliament Building in the square and showcases a 13th century facade. The church’s history goes as far back as 1,200 years with the crypts being the oldest section of the building. You can visit the inside of the building and even climb the tower for 1 Euro.
I feel Roland statue is one of the most underrated sights in Bremen. At first sight, you might think it’s an ordinary statue of a knight. Or the perfect meeting point for the city’s walking tours. But no, it has a much deeper and symbolic meaning. The statue is adjacent from the Town Hall and Cathedral, and stands alone in the square as a symbol of freedom and market rights. There are numerous Roland statues throughout Germany, but Bremen’s is one of the most authentic and oldest examples. The statue was given UESCO World Heritage status in 2004 and continues to draw tourists from all over the world. I recommend getting up close to get a better idea of the detail and symbolism represented of this charming knight.
Another stalwart in the Marktplatz that will make you get your camera out. Situated directly opposite the Town Hall, the building was the former merchants guildhall but now acts as the chamber of commerce. The pure detail in these buildings are something to shout about. If you look closely you can see the merchant’s coat of arms above the entrance alongside the city of Bremen’s.
Town Musicians of Bremen
The statue of the Town Musicians of Bremen has a meaningful fairytale story behind it. It’s more that just a cockerel standing on top of a cat standing on top of a dog standing on top of a donkey. In fact, if you know your fairytales, its an original Grimm fairytale! As an English Literature graduate, it’s something I was super excited to discover.
It’s not something that you often see surrounded by gothic renaissance buildings, but certainly one that is famous around world. I hadn’t heard the story before I went. But after researching Bremen, I had a read up on it before I got to see it in person. You can see from the image that the donkey’s feet are worn away and the brass is very visible; this is because legend says it is lucky to rub his feet!
Am Wall Windmill
The Am Wall Windmill is located in Wallanlagen Park, and it’s one of the first sights you will come across if you are walking into the city centre from the main train station. Unfortunately we took the tram so got off a few stops before the main train station. We did get to see it on our last day (and during the whole one hour that it rained!). We managed to get a few photos before the rain got heavy. But if you manage to get the sun, the windmill is a functioning cafe/restaurant where you can grab a bit to eat outside. The surroundings are so pretty that even in the rain, you will be blown away by its cuteness. It’s in such stark contrast to the buildings in the Marktplatz.
Böttcherstraße is a narrow lane just off of the main square of Bremen. We actually came across it by accident after wandering around getting an initial feel of the place. Parts of the lane are really small, and it’s always packed with beer-drinkers sitting outside and tours stopping and walking through. If you’d rather bypass the bars, there are plenty of galleries and craft shops here – including the best sweet shop (Bon Bon Manufaktur).
If you prefer your cute Instagram buildings, then the Schnoor is where you want to go. Narrow cobbled streets lined with coffee shops, boutiques, galleries, craft stores and half-timbered 15th century homes. Can you not just imagine yourself sitting here as the sun goes down, sipping on a latte or a half-pint of becks. Pure bliss! Even if you don’t buy anything or don’t have the time to it down for a drink on its doorstep, I highly recommend even a fleeting visit.