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Every building tells a story - the old quarter and Schlachte Embankment

The marketplace in Bremen.
Let iconic historical buildings be your guide as you explore Bremen's old quarter.

Quelle: WFB/Jens Hagens

Discover all that Bremen has to offer and find out more about its most important buildings. You can identify these sights from the grey information boards positioned along the walking route. These boards also feature QR codes – simply scan the code with your smartphone to open this page and the route map or a Wikipedia page with further details.

Distance: approx. 5 km
Gpx data: Komoot

Bremen Town Hall

Quelle: WFB/Ingrid Krause

1 Market square, west side

The route begins at the Sparkasse bank near the Kontorhaus building on the market square. Follow the gabled buildings towards the statue of the Bremen Town Musicians.

The Sparkasse was constructed in 1957-58 by the Bremen architect Eberhard Gildemeister. The rococo facade dating back to 1755 belonged to a house on the Schlachte that was destroyed in the Second World War The sculptor Maria Ewel participated in its restoration. The interior design displays typical features of the nineteen fifties.

From 1908-11, after an empire-wide contest built by the Bremen architect Rudolph Jacobs as Ratscafé (alderman cafe). The building is divided into three gable houses and some show-pieces of historic buildings are integrated as “documents of art and culture of Old Bremen”. Among them, it has a hallway in Rococo style that originally came from the Stoevesandtsche Haus (Stoevesandt House). Largely destructed during the Second World War it was reconstructed by the architect Herbert Anker in 1950. The adjacent “Haus Jonas” was built in 1961-62 according to plans of the Bremen architect Bernhard Wessel and features the portal of its antecessor from 1600.

1 Liebfrauenkirchhof square, shopping street and arcades

Carry on past Gerhard Marcks' statue of the Bremen Town Musicians on the western side of the town hall and continue around the Church of Our Lady. The path then leads you straight into the city centre shopping paradise. At the sign in the Katharinenklosterhof courtyard, take a look to your left, where a restaurant has been built within the remaining abbey walls.

Bremen's oldest Parish Church was constructed under Archbishop Unwan (1012-1029). In the mid-12th century it was transformed into a basilica. After 1230 under Archbishop Gerhard II. (1219-1258) it was extended into an early gothic hall church with three naves and a second tower in the north. Until approx 1400, Unser-Lieben-Frauen courtyard was the centre of urban life, with the church serving as council church. Its cellar is one of Bremen's oldest constructions. During its restoration in 1958-66, the inner masonry was laid bare. Windows from the years 1966-1973 by the French artist Alfred Manessier.

Department store built in 1930-31 by the Bremen architects Heinrich W. Behrens and Friedrich Neumark in the typical Karstadt company style. The monumental reinforced concrete construction covered by a sandstone facade and the vertically-divided structurewere typical of urban architecture at that time. In 1965 the typical courtyard was replaced by an escalator system.

Site of the Church of the Dominican Convent of St. Katharine consecrated in 1285. The building also houses the Gymnasium Illustre (1610) and the first city library (1660); In 1970-72 the remains were incorporated by the Bremen architect Carsten Schröck into the newly-constructed multi-storey car park. The Katharinenpassage was added in 1984 by the architects Rosengart, Busse and Partners, Bremen.

The German bank was built of red sandstone from the Main valley in 1889-91 by the architects Wilhelm Martens, Berlin and Friedrich W. Rauschenberg, Bremen with neo-baroque style elements. During this period, the Domshof developed into Bremen's banking centre. Reconstructed and modernised during the construction work on the Domshof-Passage in 1996-1999 by the Bremen architects Harm Haslob and Peter Hartlich and Jens Kruse.

The Forum Domshof was built in 1998 by the architects Joachim Schürmann and Partner, Cologne, Jutta and Peter Schürmann, Stuttgart and Klaus Rosenbusch, Bremen. The cubist glass house and the 12 meter-high glass screens separate the Domshof architecturally from the Bischofsnadel and the shopping malls.

1 Between the cathedral and ramparts

After the cathedral, continue in the direction of the Wallanlagen – formerly the city's defences and now a public park offering peace and quiet in the heart of town.

Former cathedral curia with medieval core. Thorough restoration and extension in 1579. The interior of the Haus Heineken contains Bremen's oldest still remaining painted wooden ceiling dating back to 1580. Exterior structure dates back to 1744. Owned for a while by the mayor Christian Abraham Heineken (1752-1818).

The court house was built in 1891-1895 according to plans of the Oldenburg architects Ludwig Klingenberg and Hugo Weber. The complex appears well fortified due to numerous towers, covers a whole block and is divided into court house and the former remand prison. The two buildings are merely connected by bridges and are characterised by a multifaceted composition of historicizing form and style elements; elaborate decorations, among others allegoric illustrations of vices and virtues.

The Forum am Wall was built in 1906-08 by the Berlin architect Carl Börnstein. The historicising design of the facade and excessively large building are typical of the desire at that time for representative public buildings. Two towers on the entrance side to the Wall marked the eastern entry to the Bremen old city. In 2002-04 the building was given a new use and the complex was completely restructured by the Bremen architect Thomas Klumpp.

1 Cultural mile, Ostertor district

Wallanlagen Park is a treasure trove of art and culture and it also marks the starting point of the trendy Ostertor district. The route takes you round past the Kunsthalle art gallery and up to the Altmannshöhe – a memorial built in 1935 in remembrance of those who lost their lives in the First World War. The view of the Weser and the 'upside-down dresser' (the old water tower) is your reward for walking up the hill. There is also a wheelchaire access.

Former Ostertorwache (Ostertor-guard-house) constructed in 1825-28 together with the tollhouse vis-à-vis according to designs of the Bremen building inspector Friedrich Moritz Stamm as guard- and detention house in classicistic style. In 1855 and 1879 additions of prison cells at the north side of the Wilhelm Wagenfeld House. During the rule of the NSDAP prison of the Gestapo.

Former Akzisehaus (tollhouse) of the Ostertor-guard. Built at the same time as the guard- and detention-house in 1825-28 by the Bremen building inspector Friedrich Moritz Stamm in classicistic style with a doric portico. Starting in 1802, the fortifications around the old town were laid down and the banquettes were transformed into a park. In 1862 the Akzisehaus, built instead of a city gate and serving to collect customs duty, lost its function by abolition; after that, several uses. In 1969-71 conversion of the guard-house by the Bremen architect Bert Gielen to host the sculpture museum “Gerhard-Marcks-Haus”; since then the domicile of the Gerhard-Marcks-Stiftung. In 1990 extension according to plans of the Bremen architect Peter Schnorrenberger.

The old theatre was built in 1912-13 by the Bremen architects August Abbehusen and Otto Blendermann. After being destroyed in the Second World War the building was reconstructed in 1948-49 by the architects Werner Commichau and Hans Storm from Bremen. With its neo-classicist pillared front, the theatre fits into the ensemble of cultural buildings between the old city and the eastern suburb. Complete modernisation in 2002- 04 by the Hamburg firm of architects Dinse Feest Zurl Architekten.

1847-1849 built by Lüder Rutenberg. 1900-1902 rebuilding with a new facade and expansion by Eduard Gildemeister and Albert Dunkel. 2008-2011 rebuilding and expansion to the new Kunsthalle by architects Hufnagel Pütz Rafaelian, Berlin.

1 Schnoor quarter

The narrow lanes and squares of Bremen's oldest district, the Schnoor, are well worth a detour or a visit at another time. Please note: the passageway 'Hinter der Balge' may be closed in the evening. There is a wheelchair access.

Built in 1985-93 by the Bremen architects Wolfram Goldapp and Thomas Klumpp. The varied and intricate structural style of the Marterburg translates the architectural variety of the neighbouring medieval Schnoor quarter into post-modernist forms.

The first new monastery construction in Bremen since the Middle Ages, built in 2001-02 by the Bremen architect Ulrich Tilgner. It is the seat of the Order of St. Birgitten which was first founded in the 14th century and which, after an interruption, was revived again at the beginning of the twentieth century. The brightly coloured convent with its guest house, enclosed area and chapel fits well into the environment.

Built in 1856-57 according to the plans of the Bremen construction director Alexander Schröder for the administration offices of the Landherrn. The rounded arch style gives the building its classic form, with a striking portal. The Landherrn who were summoned for the first time in 1817 took over the administration of the Bremen "Land" from the Goh- and Deichgrafen.

1 Domsheide, Grasmarkt square, market square

The route begins to make its way back towards the market square, which with its UNESCO World Heritage town hall and Roland statue is the beating heart of Bremen and the middle point of this tour.

In 1875-78 built according to the design of the Berlin architect Karl Schwatlo as a four-winged building using forms of the German Renaissance and featuring a striking median risalit. Head office of the Oberpostdirektion Bremen (Bremen supreme post authority). Inside the “Kaisersaal” is decorated with paintings dating from the construction time and made by the Bremen artist Arthur Fitger. In 1971-77 the main post office buidling was fundamentally reconstructed for the Bundespost (German Federal Post Office). The portal facing the Dechanatstraße was built in Renaissance style and originally belonged to the Domdechanat (Dom deanship) which was renovated in 1565 and demolished in 1875. Since 2006 used by the Katholische Schule St. Johann (Catholic School St. John).

Concert hall constructed from 1926-1928 by the Bremen architect Walter Görig on the site of the Künstlervereinsheim that was burnt down in 1915. Thorough renovation in 1996-97 by Gerhard Müller-Menckens and Klaus Rosenbusch from Bremen; features expressionist and art déco elements. The building took its name from a small bell-shaped house at the cathedral.

Only remaining section of the Bremen stock exchange built between 1861-64 by the Bremen architect Heinrich Müller. Neo-gothic semi-circular construction with spiral stairway and three galeries. In 1998-2001 the Bremen architects Manfred Schomers and Rainer Schürmann added another storey and linked the building of the Börsenhof to the parliament building by a glass walkway; also used today by the Bürgerschaft.

The first church was consecrated in 789 by Bishop Willehad. After a fire in 1041, the foundations for the present construction were laid under the Archbishops Bezelin (1035- 43) and Adalbert (1043-72). The three-nave basilica with an east and a west crypt date back to Archbishop Liemar (1072-1101) and his successors. In 1483 the church was again destroyed by fire. A late gothic north nave was added to the medieval construction while Archbishop Johann III. Rode (1497-1511) was in office. Placed under Swedish and Hanoverian administration in the 17th and 18th century. Thorough restoration from 1888 by Max Salzmann and Ernst Ehrhardt; The partially collapsed west front and the new crossing tower were reconstructed. Between 1899-1902 the cathedral interior was decorated by the church painter Hermann Schaper using medieval motifs; these were renewed during the cathedral restoration in 1972-87. Significant remains in the interior of the medieval structure, romanesque crypts and the cathedral museum; the Bleikeller is located next door.

Since about 1290 at the site of the New Town Hall the palatium of the Bremen archbishops was located, that was incorporated into the classicistic Townhouse in 1816-1819. In 1909 the cramped Townhouse was demolished and in the years 1909-1913 the New Town Hall was build, designed by the Munich architect Gabriel von Seidl (1848-1913). With a felicitous combination of old and new the building realised specifications of an architectural competition demanding a circumspect adaptation to the Old Town Hall. With unobtrusive decoration the brick and shell limestone façade resumed the façade of the Old Town Hall made from brick and natural stone, the coppery roof follows the old example as well. The building was designed with a dignified and representative expression, barely historicizing in the style of the Renaissance. The main entrance in the east faces the Domshof, the north side is dominated by a risalit with a prominent front of windows, the west side by the domed tower. Inside are located the domicile of the mayor, the senate chamber and the government of the Federal Land of Bremen with the Senate Hall. More stylishly rooms like festival room, fireplace hall and tapestry room serve representative purposes. In 2004 the ensemble of Old Town Hall, New Town Hall and Roland was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List – as an outstanding example of a late medieval town hall, standing for civic autonomy and liberty of a City-State, independent to this very day.

The old town hall was Constructed in 1405-1409 at the height of medieval history of the city as a representative and well-fortified building together with the Roland. The 42 m long and 16 m wide two storey hall building is made up of bricks with alternating clear and black glazing. The interior was completed by 1412. In the three-nave cellar of the town hall 20 sandstone columns bear the vault, the beam ceiling of the Lower Hall is supported by 20 oak pillars. The Upper Hall as an undivided hall with a self-supported ceiling is apparelled with murals, ornamental portals and wooden carvings. At the façade facing the market eight monumental sculptures represent the emperor (left) and the prince selectors. The cycle of figures point out Bremen’s title to be ”Freie Reichsstadt” (free imperial town). Above the entrances at the sides statues of prophets (facing the Dom: Petrus), later interpreted as philosophers. In front of the market façade a gallery of arcades with 11 case bays, since the 16th century several extensions at the north side. In 1608-1614 the market façade was reshaped in renaissance style by the Bremen master builder Lüder von Bentheim. A median risalit was build in front and thus a glassy bay was formed with a flemish gable and one more ornamental gables on the right and left. The decorative façade is a masterpiece of the “Weserrenaissance”, its elaborate illustrations can be read as a moral appeal to the government in the sense of civil virtues. In 1616 the Güldenkammer was completed inside the Upper Hall, panelled with outstanding wooden carvings. In 1905 Heinrich Vogeler created the interior of this counsel room as a synthesis of the arts in the style of historicizing art nouveau. In 2004 the ensemble of Old Town Hall, New Town Hall and Roland was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List – as an outstanding example of a late medieval town hall, standing for civic autonomy and liberty of a City-State, independent to this very day

The Schütting was constructed in 1537-38 by the Antwerp master builder Johann de Buschener for the Bremer Kaufmannschaft (Bremen Merchants). The late Gothic gable towards the Langenstraße remained true to the original form. The east gable - constructed in 1565 by the Bremen stone carver Karsten Husmann - represents an early example of the Renaissance in Bremen. In 1594 the market front was redesigned by using style elements of the regional Renaissance style “Weserrenaissance”. Between 1895 and 1899 reshaped in a historicizing way according to plans of Max Salzmann and Ernst Erhardt. At the back side extensions by the Bremen architects Carl Eeg and Eduard Runge in 1913-15. Except the outer walls, it burned completely down in 1944 and was reconstructed by Fritz Brandt in 1947-55.

The parliament building was constructed between 1962-66 by the Berlin architect Wassili Luckhardt on the site of the stock exchange that was destroyed in the war. Both the regional parliament of the State of Bremen and the parliament of the City of Bremen hold their meetings in this building. Located in the immediate vicinity of the cathedral (Dom), town hall (Rathaus) and Schütting, the building marks a new beginning with its controversial structure. The glass facades symbolise transparency and their vertical form reflects structural elements of the surrounding buildings. Window reliefs made of aluminium castings are the work of the Berlin artist Bernhard Heiliger.

1 Böttcherstrasse

Along Böttcherstrasse you can find individual information boards that explain the sights along this famous street. You want more information? Then visit the tourist information office in the house of the carillon.

Today, the Balge is a lost backwater of the river Weser. In the early and high Middle Ages, trade ships used ist to reach Bremen's first port, which was located on today's marketplace. The Balge served as the lifeline of Bremen's overseas trade at that time. In the 13th Century, port activities were relocated to Schlachte on the banks of the river Weser because the Balge was no longer accessible to the larger ships, with a number of bridges also spanning the waterway in the old town district. The Balge became an inner city canal: In 1602 ist was pronounced officially off-limits to ships, in 1608 it was canalised and in 1838 it was lost to the city's landscape as an underground canal. The figure of the "Fietje Balge" fishing in the Balge, donated by Bankhaus Carl F. Plump & Co., is intended to commemorate the brisk activity once witnessed on Bremen's oldest port tributary

Gothic townhouse from the 14th century; last of its kind remaining in Bremen. Badly damaged in the Second World War and reconstructed in 1948 by the Bremen architect Herbert Anker and Bernhard Wessel. The ground-level bay window – known as the "Auslucht" – was a popular building feature in Bremen.

1 Schlachte Embankment, Teerhof peninsula

Take the underpass and you'll find yourself on the Schlachte Embankment along the Weser river. There are some additional signs located on the Upper Schlachte Embankment. There is a wheelchaire access.

The Schlachte was Bremens's harbour for over six hundred years. It was first mentioned in 1250, at which time the development of the Bremen Weser bank as a harbour got underway. In the late sixteenth century the Schlachte was furnished with a stone quay wall. There is evidence that levers were already in use there in the fifteenth century, to be joined by crabes ar a somewhat later date.
The Schlachte Harbour extended along four hundred metres of the riverbank. It was located outside the wall of Bremen and contacted with the town by gates which were closed at night. Cart pushers and waggoners saw the transport of goods to the storage houses in town. A wide range of harbour-related trades resided in the Schlachte. During the seventeenth and eighteenth century some three hundred persons worked in the harbour, a place enlivened not only by shipping traffic and trade but also by inns and cellar taverns. Natural silting processes rendered Bremen increasingly inaccessible for see-going ships. Beginning in the eighteenth century, goods from oversees were carried the Last leg of their journey to the town exclusively by barge. It was not until the Weser was straightened and the Freihafen (free port) was constructed in 1884-1888 that this problem was solved. As a harbour, the Schlachte had thus its day, and in 1899 it was converted into a park.
The original structural substance of the Schlachte unfortunately did not survived World War II. Having undergone urban renewal measures that served to improve its design and raise ist value, the Schlachte was reopened in the year 2000.

The Gelbe Wuppe was a twelve-metre-long hoist that was used to unload ships. With it, four men could up to lift up to eight hundredweight of load. First used in the 16th century, the Gelbe Wuppe was replaced by an iron crane in the 19th century. A stone flood wall is all that remains of the crane's foundations.

The Teerhof was Bremen's shipbuilding area where ships were tarred. Prior to its almost complete destruction in the Second World War, the district had consisted of small sectors with varying uses. It was newly arranged and constructed between 1990-1996 around a long-shaped courtyard with residential and commercial properties, offices, Neues Museum Weserburg and the university's guest house. As central link between the old town and the new town, the new Teerhof was designed by various Bremen architectural firms

Reconstruction of the Weserburg in 1988-91 by the Bremen architects Wolfram Dahms and Frank Sieber of a coffee roasting house that was rebuilt after the war. The large storage areas were adjusted to suit the needs of a collectors' museum for contemporary art. The gables facing the old town are reminiscent of the silhouette of the Teerhof.

A heavy-duty crane was in operation along the Schlachte Embankment from around 1600. A new harbour crane is thought to have been erected in 1684 and was considered to be an engineering marvel of its day. This rotating wooden treadwheel crane was around ten metres in height. With the crane, six men driving with two wheels could move loads weighing up to three tonnes. It took until 1843 for it to be replaced by an iron crane.

1 Langenstrasse

The route continues along Langenstrasse, which leads back to the market square.

The building dating from Bremen’s heyday was constructed by using forms of the late “Weserrenaissance” (regional Renaissance style) around 1620. Around 1730 the Kaufmannshaus was redesigned and supplemented with “Ausluchten” (ground-level bay windows) and hallway; drastically changed in 1902, but the façade remained. Located inside are Bremen’s only historic hallway stairs that have remained at the original place.

Remains of the Essighaus from 1618 destroyed in the Second World War. The building designed in renaissance style was a typical example of an old Bremen merchant's house with living quarters, office and store under one roof. In 1956 the few remaining elements were integrated into a new building by the Bremen architects Wilhelm Wortmann and Erik Schott; since conversion work in 1985, site of Deutsche Factoring Bank. The few remains of the intricately designed historical facades in Langenstraße are indicative of the significance of merchants' houses in this former main street. The Kornhaus that was destroyed in the Second World War stood at the end of Langenstraße. Built in 1591, it is one of the finest examples of the Weserrenaissance in Bremen alongside the Stadtwaage.Remains of the Essighaus from 1618 destroyed in the Second World War. The building designed in renaissance style was a typical example of an old Bremen merchant's house with living quarters, office and store under one roof. In 1956 the few remaining elements were integrated into a new building by the Bremen architects Wilhelm Wortmann and Erik Schott; since conversion work in 1985, site of Deutsche Factoring Bank. The few remains of the intricately designed historical facades in Langenstraße are indicative of the significance of merchants' houses in this former main street. The Kornhaus that was destroyed in the Second World War stood at the end of Langenstraße. Built in 1591, it is one of the finest examples of the Weserrenaissance in Bremen alongside the Stadtwaage.

In 1587-88 the Stadtwaage was constructed by Lüder von Bentheim. The important building belonging to the regional Renaissance style “Weserrenaissance” features a finely structured façade made from red bricks and sandstone. At this place started the history of Bremen’s radiobroadcasting by establishing a transmitting station of the Norddeutsche Rundfunk AG (North German Broadcasting Company) in 1927. Largely destructed in 1944. In 1952 – 61, during reconstruction by the Sparkasse Bremen the gable at the back side was redesigned according to plans of the monument conservator Rudolf Stein. Completion of the interior by Herbert Anker and Friedrich Heuer.

In 1999-2001 the Kontorhaus at market square was contructed by the Bremen architects Schomers and Schürmann, with the former inner courtyard converted into a shopping passage.

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