Town Hall and Roland on the Marketplace of Bremen, Germany
In the large market square of Bremen, a limestone knight looks out across the centre of town. Five and a half metres tall, a sword in one hand and a shield resting on his torso, he is a symbol of a once powerful city.
A protector and a beacon of strength, this stone paladin has stood in the same place for more than 500 years.
The Bremen Roland was erected as a representation of the rights and privileges that Bremen had as a free and imperial city. Many settlements across Germany had these in the medieval period but this is the oldest remaining one.
Its significance can’t be underestimated.
Just behind the statue stands the Town Hall of Bremen. If the Bremen Roland was a symbol of the city’s power, then this imposing building was the practical embodiment of it.
It was the meeting place for the leaders and influential merchants of the region. Inside these elaborately decorated walls, decisions and deals were made that helped Bremen become an important trading point and member of the Hanseatic League.
The lower level of the Bremen Town Hall was used for merchants and theatrical performances. It was formed of one large hall with oak pillars that encouraged a free flow of conversation and easy negotiations.
On the upper level, the more important figures of the city would do their business. The decorations of the rooms here show the difference in status from those below.
Models of ships hang from the ceiling, large paintings show the conquests of the time, on one wall a story is written out for all to read.
A small room off the main hall is decorated entirely in gold.
Look up at the ceiling and you’ll see painted faces looking back at you.
Doorways, windowpanes, chairs and desks – they all have detailed and intricate designs worked into them.
Most of the population – now and for centuries before – only see the exterior of this building. The interior, however, is much more impressive and fitting of the role this town hall had in the history of Bremen.
Visiting the Town Hall and Roland of Bremen
The Bremen Roland is in the main marketplace and you are able to see it for free at any time of the day. It is right in front of the Town Hall so you’ll be able to see the building’s exterior at the same time.
To visit the inside of the Bremen Town Hall, you’ll need to take a guided tour. It is best to book one of these in advance.
The tour is a great way to see the different rooms of the building and learn more about what they were used for. You’ll also get explanations of the artwork and design elements inside.
The Town Hall has two main sections – the Old Town Hall from the medieval days and the New Town Hall, which was built in the early 1900s.
Although you will be able to see the difference between the two, they connect harmoniously and feel like the same building.
Am Markt 21, 28195, Bremen, Germany.
You can see it on a map here.
Monday - Saturday: 1100, 1200, 1500, 1600
Sunday: 1100, 1200
For something affordable and central, ibis Bremen City often has good deals.
There is a wonderful design hotel called Designhotel ÜberFluss that you might like to consider.
And if you are looking for luxury, you can't go past the modern Atlantic Grand Hotel.