October 13, 2012

0357 GERMANY (Bremen) - Town Hall and Roland on the Marketplace of Bremen (UNESCO WHS)

Seat of a bishop early as 787, so before that Charlemagne successfully conclude the bloody campaign of Christianization of Saxons, Bremen obtained in 888 the right to hold its own markets, to mint its own coins and make its own customs laws. Since then, the city on the River Weser permanently fought to maintain its independence or at least autonomy,  i.e. the right not to share with surrounding neighbors the consistent amounts accrued through trade privileges (don’t shoot me, Bärbel). It's one of the three reasons that UNESCO included in 2005 on its list of World Heritage Sites the Town Hall of Bremen (in the picture – the building from the left), "an exceptional testimony to the civic autonomy and sovereignty, as these developed in the Holy Roman Empire."

The second is that "the town hall represents the medieval Saalgeschossbau-type of hall construction, as well as being an outstanding example of the so-called Weser Renaissance in Northern Germany." The old building was erected between 1405 and 1409, therefore after Bremen joined the Hanseatic League, in Brick Gothic style, as a so-called Saalgeschossbau, a multi-storey construction which contain a large hall. The opulent façade, built from 1595 to 1612, was created by the architect Lüder von Bentheim in the style of the Weser Renaissance. Three centuries later, between 1909 and 1913, the Munich architect Gabriel von Seidl constructed an extension at the back of the building in the style of the Neo-Renaissance.

The third was that "its symbolism is directly associated with the development of the ideas of civic autonomy and market freedom in the Holy Roman Empire." Built for the use of the City Council, it underline the policies of self-government, and demonstrated grown self-confidence of the city council and its civic claim to power. So the Town Hall is more than a building, is a symbol. Furthermore, it houses the oldest barrel of wine in Germany, crafted in 1653.

This UNESCO site is not limited only to the town hall building, but also includes, as its name says (Town Hall and Roland on the Marketplace of Bremen), the statue of Roland (with its back in this photography), hero of the battle of Roncevaux Pass, which took place in 778 in the Pyrenees, on the border between France and Spain. This paladin of the first Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne is very well known as a symbol of heroism and sacrifice thanks to The Song of Roland, the oldest surviving major work of French literature, writed in 11th century. Even if in this battle the Franks, retreating after a failed campaign in the Iberian Peninsula, were massacred by a guerrilla army of the Basques. Erected in 1404, this stone statue which replaced an wooden one, is the oldest Roland statue still in place in Germany.

The church located to the right is Bremen Cathedral (Bremer Dom), dedicated to St. Peter and built in 9th century. Rebuilt and enlarged two centuries later in Romanesque style, it was remodeled in 13th century to reflect the new Gothic architecture, and on the beginning of 16th century was transformed into a German High Gothic style church. In 1561 the protestants shut the doors of the cathedral, which was reopened in 1638 as a Lutheran place of worship. The building was sever damaged in WWII, along with 60% of the city. I don't know how, but the citizens succeeded to protect the Town Hall, which remained almost untouched.

About the stamps
The first stamp, is part of the Blumen series, about which I wrote here.

The second is part of a series of two dedicated to recolonization of native wild animals and issued on February 20, 2012. The two have the same value (€ 0.55) and shows:
• the lynx
• the elk - It's on the postcard 0357

Regarding the postmark, I'm a novice, but it seemed special and I studied a little the problem. Finally I found it here (it has the item code DE20090000 PMK 28000). Therefore it's a slogan postmark and belongs to one of the 82 district centers for the processing of letters (Briefzentrum) built between 1994 and 1998 (since the introduction of the new postal codes in Germany), respectively to Bremen Briefzentrum. The stamp consists of two distinct shapes: one rectangular on the left (with the map of the two regions that it serves, with their postal codes - 27 and 28 - and the statue of the famous Town Musicians of Bremen, framed in left and up by the center name - Briefzentrum Bremen), and one round on the right, on which writing Briefzentrum 28 and the date.

Town Hall of Bremen - Wikipedia
Das Rathaus Bremen - official site
Bremen Roland - Wikipedia
Bremen Cathedral - Wikipedia
Town Hall and Roland on the Marketplace of Bremen - UNESCO official site
Recolonization of native wildlife stamp issue from Germany - International Stamp News
Domestic cats postmarks - catstamps.org

Sender: Bärbel Plinke (direct swap)
Sent from Bremen (Bremen / Germany), on 25.04.2012
Photo: F. Mader


  1. What a fascinating post. I LOVE the historical story behind this place. My sister lived in Germany for awhile--and I love her stories. Someday I shall visit there.

    Lovely postcard and I thoroughly enjoyed reading the history behind it. Happy PFF!

  2. i was in Bremen when I was about 20 y/o but I didn't know any of this history, then. Still, I remember thinking it was a beautiful old city but I would like to go back and see if I can appreciated the age and elegance and history a bit more this time!

    1. Personally, I don't like to come back in places that I liked them, for fear of being disappointed. I prefer to keep my first impressions. :)

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