In Search of Ottemans: Oldenburg, Germany

After exploring Fehmarn as best we could, we headed to Oldenburg to connect to the Otteman (my maternal grandmother’s family) family roots. It involved a few transfers, but wye managed to make it without any trouble. 

We arrived in Oldenburg mid-afternoon. After checking into our hotel, we set off to explore the town center. Oldenburg is a mid-sized city, with a population of about 160,000 people. One of the first things we noticed is that there are a huge number of bicyclists bicycling all over the town. The main part of the city is filled with shops – some familiar, some new. We browsed a few places but didn’t find anything we couldn’t live without.

St. Lamberti’s Church

In the morning after indulging in the amazing breakfast buffet at our hotel, we headed out to see the church and the schloss (palace). St. Lamberti’s Church was renovated in the 19th century but dates back to the 12th century. The inside was very nice, a bit austere, definitely a change from the overly ornate cathedrals of Italy. Unfortunately, there aren’t any church records (or none available publicly) so we have no way of knowing if any of the Ottemans were christened, married, or even attended church there.

Schloss Oldenburg

We headed over to the schloss, which is now home to the State Museum for Art and Cultural History. Starting in 1607, it served as the home for various dukes, counts, and grand dukes of Oldenburg. The building has served as a museum since 1923, after the abdication of the last grand duke at the end of World War I and the German Empire. Oldenburg is the traditional home of the House of Oldenburg, which at times has been one of Europe’s most powerful and influential royal houses. Being American, I’m not exactly sure what a royal house is or how it works, but it sounds really impressive. Throughout history, members of this house have ruled Russia, Greece, Iceland, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. The current Queen of Denmark and King of Norway belong to this house.

Oldenburg State Museum for Art and Cultural History

The schloss is painted a bright yellow and white, and while not what you would think of when you think of a palace or castle, it is very visually striking. We wandered the rooms of the palace, looking at the various exhibits and artifacts from Oldenburg’s past. While a few of the rooms had information in English, primarily it was all in German. It was still interesting to look at the displays and the rooms, even if I’m sure we missed some of the historical significance.

Oldenburg is a clean and neat town. The streets were very clean, and the biggest danger appeared to be the huge numbers of bicyclists. Bicycles are very popular throughout Germany, but of all the places we visited, they seemed especially prevalent in Oldenburg. Almost every street has a bike lane, usually in between the road and the sidewalk. Even in the cold and wet dark there were bicyclists everywhere.

In the afternoon, we headed to Bremen to attempt to tour the Beck’s Brewery. Despite that being unsuccessful, it was still a great trip. After I returned, we headed out for dinner and ended up at a Mexican restaurant. As I was sipping my Aperol spritz and waiting for my nachos, I realized I was a living example of globalism, an American drinking an Italian cocktail in a Mexican restaurant in Germany.  


3 thoughts on “In Search of Ottemans: Oldenburg, Germany

  1. “I realized I was a living example of globalism, an American drinking an Italian cocktail in a Mexican restaurant in Germany”

    Was this Mexican restaurant was in the middle of a roundabout / traffic circle by any chance? It just doesn’t get much more ‘global’ than that!

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