In Bremen’s marketplace, the massive Romanesque/Early-Gothic St. Petri Dom, with its twin Rhenish-helmet-capped spires towering overhead, stops me in my tracks — not unlike when I first saw the imposing white Duomo at the heart of Milan, or the Notre Dame in Paris, or even the restored Dom of Cologne. Though austere, the inside is worth a peek. You can also climb the south tower for a panoramic view of Bremen and visit the eight mummies in the lead cellar below the nave.
Bremen, which straddles the Weser River in the northwest and is home to Beck’s beer, is one of two cities comprising Germany’s smallest federal state. The other is Bremerhaven, 60 kilometres down river at the North Sea and 1,000 years younger. Both cities offer way more than good beer: especially when it comes to art and culture.
In Bremen’s market square, 2,000 brass and steel buttons embedded in the cobblestones are like breadcrumbs leading visitors to discover its history, as well as art galleries, shops and restaurants. A member of the powerful Hanseatic League — a confederation of merchant guilds from some 160 cities across Northern Europe that dominated trade from the 13th century to the beginning of the 18th century — Bremen luckily still has mementos of its past.