Cities & Culture

Hamelin: a place with a love-hate relationship with rats

Hameln: Wedding house with Martinkirche at the market place ©DZT (Francesco Carovillano)

Hamelin is set amid the Weserbergland hills and is an ideal base for scenic walks, hiking tours, bike rides, boat trips and tours on the water. Needless to say, the town also presents an excellent opportunity to make friends with a small animal that you'd normally go out of your way to avoid.

Hamelin is a beautifully restored historical town with magnificent timber-framed and sandstone buildings, many of which date back to the Renaissance period. Osterstrasse and the Pferdemarkt square form the tokenistic centre. Between these two points, tiny, winding alleyways are dotted with cafés and inns, cosy beer gardens and pretty little shops. Follow the rat trail: The cobbles in Hamelin are painted with these little animals, who point the way to the main attractions in the town. This is, of course, associated with the legend of the Pied Piper. As the story goes, a rat catcher was called to the town in 1294 but was subsequently cheated of his fee. In revenge, he lured the children from the town by playing beguiling melodies on his flute – and they were never seen again.

The Pied Piper's House, one of Hamelin's largest and prettiest Renaissance buildings, stands right in the centre of town in memory of these events. The Hochzeitshaus building also pays tribute to the fable with its carillon. Guaranteed to be rodent-free are the town's beautiful churches, including St. Boniface Minster, which dates back to the 9th century and is the oldest church in Hamelin. Or there's the Garrison Church, a beautiful Baroque building. Right next to the historical Pfortmühle building in the Old Town, a bridge takes visitors across to the little island in the Weser River, which boasts beautiful views of the river and town and is the perfect place to be if you want to relax.

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