It is one of the most beautiful town halls in Germany: the magnificent facade is a textbook example of the Weser Renaissance architecture typical of northern Germany. Along with the Roland statue, the city's very own 'statue of liberty', it still stands as a reminder of the pride that the locals have for their city, their freedom and their sovereignty.
Once inside the town hall, you simply must take a look in the Upper Hall. In this exquisite room, the lovingly crafted model ships dating from the 16th to the 18th century reflect the importance of shipping for the city. Other special attractions include the adjoining Golden Chamber with its art nouveau features. A gem of a different kind can be found below ground: the historical Ratskeller – Germany's oldest wine cellar. Writers such as Wilhelm Hauff and Heinrich Heine used to come here for inspiration, and today's visitors can still sample from the largest collection of German wines in the country.
Back on the market square, you can stand eye to eye with Sir Roland – or rather eye to knee. Because at five and a half metres in height (10.21 metres including the base and baldachin), this is the tallest free-standing sculpture of the German Middle Ages. It represents Hanseatic freedom and also served a much more practical purpose: as the distance between the knees is exactly one Bremen 'elle', a historical unit of measurement, it is thought that the pragmatic Bremen merchants used it to measure out their material. Today, it is customary to touch Roland's pointed knees before setting off on a stroll through the lanes of Bremen old town.
Guided tours of the town hall: Monday to Sunday: several times a day; Sunday: 11am and 12 noon
The town hall is closed to visitors during official receptions and other events.
Guided tours of Bremen: daily at 2pm; April to October, additional tours on Saturdays at 11am
Further information: www.bremen-tourism.de
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