The Hanseatic City of Bremen

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The Shutting…. The Chamber of Commerce, Bremen

I guess it is fitting to start our tour of Bremen in front of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, fitting because Bremen has made it fortunes from Trade from across the world for many centuries.  It is also a case of survival as the town is built upon marsh land, adjacent to a river, liable to flooding. It was also a target for bombing during WW2 with a good deal of the City destroyed but rebuilt in the traditional style.

There are two statues that Bremen are very proud of and perhaps sum up the city.

The first is that of Knight Roland. He has stood in the Market Place since 1404 with sword drawn facing the Cathedral and so symbolising the peoples rights to liberty.  The second is more contemporary but  based upon an old Brothers Grimm Fairy Tale.  It is the Sculpture known as “The Town Musicians of Bremen” and tells the tale that right and innocence will always triumph against bad and evil.

(Modern myth is that it is Good Luck to touch the leg or nose of the Donkey)

Today Bremen is a City in three parts. There is the sprawling and prosperous industrial and commercial city that surrounds the central core of old Bremen. But this central core can also be split into two distinct areas.

The first we will tour is that which surrounds the Market Squares and the Cathedral of St.  Peter.  The Cathedral dominates the City, dark and for some forebodingly over the Market Square…sadly we could not venture inside to view what we are told is a fantastic interior as it is closed for vital restoration work.  But that aside here is a flavour of the old commercial centre on what was a very wet day.

The other centre of Old Bremen is known as the Schnoor District

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This is an area of narrow lanes and alleys, it was once the part of Bremen closest to the port. Consequently it was the location for warehouses, trades people and crafts associated with shipping and its needs.  Today it is a charming tourist trap, small shops, cafes, bars and private residences all vying for your interest.

 Bremen is a City of historic note, once a key Hanseatic trader and still today an important commercial and industrial centre.  For the visitor the history and its well preserved and restored architecture is just waiting to be discovered….  no doubt we will return to rediscover anew.

It is also a City for fun (and Refreshments) as Jean discovered when she rather took a fancy to this Human Street Sculpture….

But for now our short Hanseatic trip from the Baltic, via Kiel, Elbe and Weser is complete so it is back to Braemar and full steam ahead for the North Sea and home…..

Sad to be finished but lots of memories….

12th August

(C) David Oakes 2017

 

 

 

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A Medieval Town….. Luneburg

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A Wet day in Luneburg…

About 30 miles from Hamburg is the medieval and Hanseatic Town of Luneburg.  It may be a small town but packed with interest. Although not a port on the sea Luneburg was granted Hanseatic Town status due to its importance in the industry of Salt mining.  Luneburg is on the River Limenau and salt was taken down river to where it met the Elbe.

Whilst Luneburg is in Saxony it shares much that is similar to the towns and cities we have visited in Schleswig-Holstein….and that is ‘Brick’.

Much of the greater area is a source of clay so brick is the natural building material of choice.  But in Luneburg the art of brick maker, brick layer and architect takes on a new life. The reds of the bricks varies, the shapes whilst mainly to a standard also show variety.  Clay is wound into rope like twists and with the addition of some wood and topped with red pantiles you have unique buildings and a unique town.

Most of the buildings are standing straight which as the town is built upon a salt dome is rather remarkable. Every house unique, whilst now mostly residential, there was a time when many were tradesmen’s homes and workplaces, warehouses and offices and of course homes for the wealthy residents.

But one building rather puzzles us and we never did solve the puzzle, nor was a local guide that helpful.  I mention most houses are standing straight, some lean at an angle and depend upon the neighbours for support…..but one house was definitely built with a bulge……

As it is one of the older houses and is still standing there cannot be much wrong with the construction.

Sadly we arrived in rain, rain that got heavier as the day went along.  We would have loved to see more and linger longer to take in all that the town has to offer,  lets just say the rain did put a damper on things…still we got more than just a glimpse of a town that given a chance we will return to…..

11th August

(C) David Oakes 2017

 

 

Thru the Kiel to Hamburg

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Early Morning as we enter the Kiel Canal

The Kiel Canal was built to link the Baltic with the North sea so avoiding a lengthy, and in the days of sail, a dangerous passage around the stormy seas of Jutland.

Its origins date to 1784 when the river Eider was converted to a canal but it was later in 1895 when Kaiser-Wilhelm had the canal widened. It eventually became known as the Kiel Canal.  Its importance for commerce and for war was recognised in the early 1900’s when it was widened again to allow German Battleships easy fast access between the two seas.

61 miles long, yet despite the fact that it links two seas, it is a freshwater canal and traces the course of the old Eider River. Locks at both ends of the canal are used not for adjusting water level but for separating and retaining the freshwater from the seas.

So here we go down the Kiel from north to south ……

 

The Locks at Brunsbuttel is where the Kiel enters the North Sea and the wide estuary of the River Elbe…

It was an evening arrival in Hamburg. One of the original Hanseatic Ports it is now dwarfed by todays enormous docks complex…all ways busy always something moving on the river.

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An already impressive skyline is now enhanced by the recently opened Elbphilhormonie Concert Hall. By any standard a great feat of architecture created to represent the sails of ships that once ploughed their trade along the Elbe.

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It is creative in design, the red brick buildings upon which the Quartz like structure stands are old warehouses.

Evening demanded a cruise on the Binnenaister and Au Benaister  lakes with their majestic fountain in central Hamburg, so we could see the famous city skyline from a different perspective…

Tomorrow we head inland to explore at little more of the history surrounding the Hanseatic Trade ….but for now its good night to Hamburg and the docks that never stop linking the City with the world…

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10th August

(C) David Oakes 2017

All too brief stop at Travemunde

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A calm sunny dawn welcomed us to Travemunde.  A seaside resort and fishing village on the River Trave where it enters Lubeck Bay and the Baltic.

Our ship moored right on the water front in the middle of the town which just begged to be explored.  Sadly our time here was limited so here are a few of the highlights.

As an important shipping port for many centuries safe navigation into the port was vital, so it is not surprising that this is where you will find the oldest Lighthouse in Germany.

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Dating back to 1539 it is brick built  and stands, with a slight lean, 39meters high.  Even though it is currently under restoration you can if you wish climb to the top…we gave that treat a miss, so we will take the word of others that there are 142 narrow twisting steps to the top.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now for a flavour of Travemunde…

One tall ship that now has a permanent mooring here in Travemunde you cannot miss, it is Passat one of the long gone Windjammers.  But Passat is not as old as she first appears…none the less has an interesting and chequered history. Built in 1911 her cargo was mainly Nitrates from Chile. She and a sister ship were known as the Flying P-Liners….Passat means Trade Winds. Impounded in WWI she was later given to France as reparation. Sold into general trade she continued to serve the cargo trade for many more years.  Now a Youth Hostel and Maritime Museum her favoured good life continues.

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We waved our good byes to the people and the friendly town as the sun dimmed for the day and headed off into the Baltic….

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With a last look back on Travemunde, its beaches and the harbour lighthouse..

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Open sea and a warm evening light over the Baltic filled us with anticipation of the next days cruising and destination…

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Kiel Canal and Hamburg here we come…. (can you wait till Thursday)

7th August

(C) David Oakes 2017

Lubeck…….an Ancient Hanseatic Port

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The Mighty Gateway to Lubeck

The mighty gateway to Lubeck in Schleswig-Holstein has guarded one of the original Hanseatic ports and its city for many a century. It is a city of like many other medieval towns and cities dominated by church spires each trying to out do the other by there height…..but within the city walls it a cluster of narrow streets and high buildings and even narrower passageways called gangs.  Architecture is varied embracing styles from across Europe and beyond as travellers returned with the tales of distant shores.

( I am told the ‘Gangs’ or passageways were a means of creating more building space behind the main house frontages…many of the ‘Gangs’ being dedicated to a particular trade or skill.  Now just quiet hideaways for  colourful homes)

As is the custom in the region Brick is the building material of choice and  has been used for centuries.  (Clay being so readily available) But the creativity of the architect, brick maker and the bricklayers skill is evident by the many distinctive styles they have used in the constructions.

That ancient Gatehouse is one ornate example …

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Whilst the old Salt Warehouses is  another…

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The City of Lubeck is not just a port on the River Trave but is surrounded by a canal.  It was just a shame we had a rather dull drab day for the visit…still I hope these images convey a little of the character of this ancient City and Hanseatic Port…

As is often the way….when it came to moving on the sun came out as if it had never been away.  Travemunde here we come..

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5th August

(C) David Oakes 2017