On the way to Oldenburg from Hamburg, we stopped in Bremen to change trains. I realized that Bremen was the world headquarters and home of the Beck’s beer. After some online research, I discovered there was a 3 p.m. tour of the Beck’s Brewery in Bremen that would be in English (most of the tours are only in German). Since Bremen is a 35-minute train ride from Oldenburg, I thought this would make a fun outing and a chance to try several of Beck’s beers that are not available in the U.S. We took the train from Oldenburg to Bremen Neustadt and walked to the brewery. After finding the visitor’s center, we also found a sign that said there were no tours available on December 30 and 31 – something the website failed to mention.
So now we were in Bremen with nothing to do. I decided to stay and explore the city a bit while my mom opted to return to Oldenburg. Bremen is home to about 2.4 million people, making it the 11th most populous city in Germany. It has been a traditionally powerful city due to its location on the Wesser River, allowing for trade and shipping.
I continued down along the river and crossed over to the city center. The city center was filled with the usual array of shops and restaurants, so I shopped a little and continued to wander. I continued to wander until I saw the two towers of the church and decided to check it out. I walked toward the church, and after a couple of blocks the square opened up and I saw the full magnificence of the plaza. Not only was the big church here, the Rathaus (town hall), parliament building, and several other large buildings framed the square. At this point, I realized I had somehow stumbled into a UNESCO World Heritage Site – namely “Town Hall and Roland on the Marketplace of Bremen.”
The town hall was completed in the early 1400s and has served as the center of city government since then. The town hall is built in the Brick Gothic style, with a number of statues and carving decorating the large building. A “new” town hall was built next to it in the early 20th century. The statue of Roland dates to 1404. Another building of note on the marketplace is the Schütting, the guild house for Bremen’s merchants and businessmen, which was built in the mid-16th century.
The church, St. Petri Dom zu Bremen or St. Peter’s Bremen Cathedral. This medieval church dates back more than 1000 years, though it has had several additions, repairs, and facelifts; including work to repair damage from an Allied firebomb. The church began its life as a Catholic church, but during the Reformation, it became a protestant church. In 1873, the Bremen Calvinists and Lutherans formed a united church, the Bremen Evangelical Church, who still controls the church.
Unfortunately, it was late afternoon and the sun was beginning to set behind the buildings, so the photos I took do not do justice to how beautiful these buildings are. After sufficiently marveling at the site, I headed back to the train station. The Bremen Hauptbahnhof is also a remarkable building, built in 1847. Bremen is worth exploring and makes an excellent day trip from Oldenburg (or Oldenburg makes an excellent day trip from Bremen).