The German city of Koln or Cologne is just a short train trip from Papenburg, where we were staying. A city renowned for it’s Eau de Cologne and it’s imposing Cathedral. Kolner Dom or Cologne Cathedral is the third largest church and the tallest cathedral in the world.
During WWII, Cologne lost 93% of it’s population, mostly due to evacuation. Most of the thousand year old city center was destroyed by allied bombs. Despite recieving 14 hits from the bombing, the Cathedral still stood among the desolate landscape. There is a legend that the Cathedral was such a doo landmark for the BRitish and American bombers that they secretly conspired to not destroy it. The repairs were finished in 1956, but the Cathedral is in a constant state of repair.
The Cathedral’s sandstone facade gets it’s grey appearance from exposure to acid rains. Among the saints and apostles covering the outside are also gargoyles, grotesques. Out of sight on the Cathedral’s roof are statues of John F. Kennedy, Nikita Khrushchev, Charles de Gaulle, a buxom Tanzmariechen, one of the high-kicking women dancers at Carnival parties, a local boxer, a handful of soccer players and the billy goat mascot of the FCKoln. The goat is named Hennes and Hennes IX is the latest incarnation. In 2018 a small gargoyle of Pope Francis was added very quietly. It took the locals a week to spot him.
The medieval market place in Bremen features many old and interesting buildings. In addition to the Rathaus, The Cathedral of St. Peter has 1200 years of history. Among it’s many treasures are the remains of the old choir stalls built in 1630. The oldest portion of the cathedral dates bate to the 11th century.
The oldest and most quaint sections of Bremen is the Schnoor Quarter. A tangled maze of small streets are lined with shops and restaurants. The name Schnoor refers to the workshops where the rigging for ships were made. This neighborhood was one of the poorest and home to the local fishermen. Many of the half timbered buildings date back to 1400 and 1500’s.
A Unesco World Heritage site, the Bremen Rathaus is one of the most beautiful buildings in Europe. The brick gothic hall was built in the 15th century. This incredible building was designed and built in 1400. While a large protion of Bremen was destryed in WWII, the Rathaus was unscathed.
Bremen is an amalgam of the old and the new. The historic square or Marktplatz features a huge statue of the Knight Roland, which symbolizes the rights and priviledges of the Hanseatic City. Hanseatic refers to a medieval merchant’s guild. Roland was a protector of the trade group.
One of my favorite Brothers Grimm fairytales was The Brementown Musicians. Even though the title characters never made it to the town, you can still visit them in Bremen.
In the classic tale, a donkey, a rooster, a dog and a cat escape their respective abusive farmers and set out to become a famous group of musicians in the free city of Bremen. Along the way, they see a lit cottage and peer in the windows to see a band of thieves counting their ill-gotten treasures. They decide to scare the thieves and take over the cottage as there own. Once the thieves are chase off, they spend the rest of their days in the cottage, never making it to the city.
Next to the Rathaus or City Hall in Bremen is a scuplture depicting the musicians. Be sure to rub the Donkey’s leg for good luck.
In front of the Rathaus is the Hole of the Brementown Musicians. Toss a coin into the hole and hear one of the animals. Just look for the signs.
All around the town are representations of the musicians.