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Art, History & Archaeology Sites & Museums

Bremen, officially the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen (Freie Hansestadt Bremen), is the smallest of the 16 states of Germany and made up of two separate enclaves. The first, the city of Bremen, and the second Bremerhaven (Bremen’s harbour). Both cities are located on the Weser River, the latter a sea port, and have played prominent roles in the development of maritime trade in Germany from the times of the Hanseatic League to the present. The Hansa connection is still very much in evidence in the Altstadt of Bremen with its Marktplatz (market square) dominated by a striking Gothic Town Hall with its opulent Renaissance façade.

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Archaeology & History Sites in Bremen

Town Musicians of Bremen Statue

One of the most iconic images and sights of the Hanseatic City of Bremen is the statue of the Town Musicians. Created by the German artist Gerhard Marcks in 1953, a cockerel stands on a cat that is standing on a dog, which is in turn standing on a donkey.  The bronze statue is a representation of a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm and published in 1819 in Grimms’ Fairy Tales. It tells the story of four aging domestic animals, who after a lifetime of hard work are neglected by their former masters. They decide to run away and become musicians in the city of Bremen. Interestingly, they never arrive in Bremen.

Bremen Town Hall

On the north-east side of Bremen’s market square is the beautifully ornate Gothic style Rathaus, or town hall. It was built in 1405 as the seat of municipal self-government and state government and has been used as such ever since. As an example of the representation of civic autonomy and market rights the city acquired in the Holy Roman Empire, this is one of the finest. Hence why in 2004 both the building and the Roland statue standing in font of it were given UNESCO World Heritage status. The town hall is open to the public; and guided tours are available.

The Roland Statue

Erected in 1404 to replace a wooden version that had been destroyed, this is the oldest surviving example of a Roland in Europe. The statue symbolises freedom and independence of the city of Bremen. These statues were frequently erected in cities of the Holy Roman Empire as emblems of their liberty. The limestone statue itself is 5.47 m high, but with the rostrum, the supporting column and the crowning baldachin, the total height is just over 10 m. Together with the Town Hall, the statue was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2004.

Bunker Valentin Memorial

On the north bank of the Weser River, not far from the river’s mouth, is the largest free-standing bunker from WWII in Germany. During World War II the bunker served as the German Navy’s submarine shipyard. It was still in use by the Navy until 1960. Thousands of people from all over Europe were put to work here. And over 1,100 people died here during the facility’s construction. In 2010 the city of Bremen decided to run the site as a memorial, opening to the public in 2015. An information trail of 25 stations tells the horrific story of the bunker. Guided tours available on Sundays.

Old Pumping Station

An early 20th century sewage pump-house ceased to function as such in 1995. Former employees who have restored the historic machine act as your guide to the plant and the underground sewer. A small exhibition charts the history of sanitation in the city of Bremen, from when sewage was thrown into the river until contemporary efforts to provide sustainable sewage removal and treatment. In the garden see a section of the Balgekanal, Bremen’s oldest sewer.

Museums & Art Galleries in Bremen

Gerhard Marcks House

Gerhard Marcks, a German sculptor and graphic artist, is best known in Bremen for his bronze statue of the Town Musicians of Bremen. At his death in 1982 Marcks was one of Germany’s leading sculptors, whose work had been destroyed and banned by the Nazis. His works were included in the infamous 1937 exhibition of ‘degenerate art’ in Munich. The museum in his honour, containing around 12,000 of his sketches and drawings, 900 prints and 350 sculptures, was opened in 1971, and is part of the city’s Cultural Mile.

Ludwig Roselius Museum

In 1902 Ludwig Roselius purchased the Medieval house, had it restored and renovated to house his collection of Renaissance and Baroque art. Museum im Roselius-Haus was opened to the public in 1928. Rooms in the house not only display Medieval decorative and fine art, with furniture and carpets to give the atmosphere of a middle class, north German household. One of the highlights of the museum is a collection of Medieval altarpieces.