Lying at one end of Germany’s popular Fairytale Route, it is no surprise that the streets of Bremen are home to a fair few myths and legends. These stories are embedded into the city’s past and many feature in the House of History, a museum located in the famous Schnoor Quartr which features live actors that bring the tales to life.
So, as you stroll around the streets of beautiful Bremen, look out for these signs that the legends live on.
Bremen Town Musicians
This is perhaps the most famous story regarding the city of Bremen and it stems from an original Brothers Grimm fairytale. The story goes that a donkey, dog, cat and cockerel all realised they had become surplus to requirements in the eyes of their different owners and so decided to run away before they were killed.
As each met the others, they decided to head to Bremen but stopped to rest for the night in a house that was being robbed. By standing on each other’s backs, they managed to scare off the robbers with their ‘music’ – the various noises each animal makes. During the night, the robbers tried to reclaim the house but the animals fought back in the dark, leading the criminals to mistake them for witches and monsters.
After spending the rest of the night in the house, the animals decided they wouldn’t continue to Bremen after all and would instead stay there. However, they are immortalised by a famous statue in the Market Square and have become mascots for the city.
Seven Lazy Brothers
The Seven Lazy Brothers were the sons of a local farmer. After not being able to find work in Bremen they were deemed lazy and looked elsewhere for a way to make a living. Having gained experience in various crafts, they later returned to work on their father’s farm but the people of Bremen didn’t believe they were anything other than lethargic. With the knowledge and skills they had garnered, the brothers built a ditch along the river Weser to stop it from flooding and then built their own houses alongside, proving they were anything but lazy.
The seven subjects of this tale are depicted in two contrasting ways along Bremen’s Böttcherstrasse. In the courtyard outside the Paula Modersohn-Becker Museum, they are immortalised within a fountain and shown as lazy, almost gluttonous figures. However, further along the street, on top of the Sieben-Faulen-Laden, they stand tall and proud looking over the city.
You might be alarmed to see people spitting on the floor in Domshof square, but rest assured this is not just a dirty habit being displayed by the locals. In this historic square, there is a stone which marks the spot where infamous poisoner Gesche Gottfried was executed – the last public killing of its kind in Bremen. She was found guilty of murdering 15 people with arsenic and so the spitting stone is a marker for people to show their disgust at her actions.
Heini Holtenbeen Statue
Amongst the cobbled streets of the Schnoor Quarter, you will find a statue that commemorates the life of a lovable Bremen character. After an accident that saw him fall through a skylight, Heini Holtenbeen was left slightly brain damaged and with a limp. Having previously been an apprentice at the tobacco port, he would hang around outside the stock exchange collecting the cigar stubs from everyone who entered. He would then turn these into new cigars and sell them, endearing himself with the local people along the way.
A Quirky Collection Box
If you have seen the Bremen Musicians in statue form but wonder how they would have sounded then you should to head to the Market Square, just outside the parliament, with a coin in hand. A unique charity collection box allows you to place the coin in a drain on the floor before listening closely to hear the sound of the Bremen Musicians saying thank you in their own way.
If you would like to learn more about the fairytales or history of this fantastic city, a Bremen city break is perfect. We can tailor-make your trip to your liking, so just tell us when you would like to go and we’ll put everything together for you. Call us on 0800 988 3369 for more information.