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Bremen

Bremen has been attractive to human population since circa 12,000 BCE and remains so today, with some 750,000 people. It became an important trade center due in large part to its location on the River Wesser. Interestingly it was exempt from feudal laws once it gained city status, making it a beacon of freedom in the middle ages. Property was not subject to feudal ownership, and even serfs could own property if they resided in the city for a year and a day, at which point they were freed.

By 1350 the population reached 20,000. Over the next centuries the importance of the city made it a participant in the seemingly endless upheavals and reorganizations of German states. There is a detailed account of the comings and goings at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bremen, including the notation that the first German steamship was manufactured here in 1827.

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Part of the Rathaus, Town Hall. Its intricate facade 1612, the Gothic building 1405

There is a restaurant in the Rathaus featuring original decor and a huge exclusively German wine list. Included are a dozen of the oldest wines in the world in their original barrels. The building and the Roland statue are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

We visited just the old town. Less than half of its architectural wealth remains with us due to the ravages of the second war. Airplanes were manufactured here, accounting in part for it’s target status. There was a concentration camp as well. It was captured in late April 1945, becoming part of the American occupation zone, which city leaders preferred to the British.

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Roland. A Roland statue was displayed in cities trading in the Hanseatic League
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The donkey, dog, cat and rooster of the Grimm Brothers fairy tale.

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Part of the main square, the Marktplatz

There are several impressive churches. St. Peter’s Cathedral is from the 13th century. There are sculptures of Moses, David, Peter and Paul. The Liebfrauenkirche is the oldest (11th c).  Martinikirche (St Martin’s Church) is from 1229.

We walked through the Schnoor, a neighborhood with narrow streets and small houses from the 17th and 18th century

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We just had a day here as we came by train, leaving the boat at a boat club in Osnabrucke. Brennen is worthy of a longer visit.

We set aside time to visit the Kunstehall Bremen, one of the best art museums around. From its website:

“The Kunsthalle houses the extensive and diverse collection of the Kunstverein in Bremen: with European painting from the Middle Ages to the present day, international modernism, sculptures from the 16th to the 21st century and outstanding works of media art, it spans an arc from the 14th century to the present day. The Kupferstichkabinett, with its more than 220,000 drawings and prints, is one of the most important graphic collections in Europe. In permanent and temporary exhibitions, you can take an exciting journey through art history when you visit the Kunsthalle.” https://www.kunsthalle-bremen.de/de/sammlung/kupferstichkabinett There is an English version of their website.

There is a rare Monet portrait, not his forte clearly but a good one nonetheless. I really liked the expressionist collection and its modern art in general. It includes Munch’s Child and Death. There are paintings and sculptures by Pablo Picasso, Fernand Léger, André Derain, Juan Gris and André Masson.

If I lived here I’d be a regular visitor. Top notch curation!

By Gary Kirkpatrick

Artist and travel blogger.

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