Bremen Cathedral

Categories: Sightseeing, Cultural and History

Bremen Cathedral
Bremen Cathedral

[ source: Wikipedia]

When visiting the charming city of Bremen (Bremen vacation rentals | Bremen travel guide), a visitor might encounter an unusual tradition playing itself out at the Bremen Cathedral. Here, according to local tradition, when an unmarried man reaches 30, he must sweep the cathedral steps until a young woman kisses him. As for an unmarried woman of the same age, she must polish the cathedral doorknobs until kissed by a young man. This genesis of this tradition seems to have been forgotten, but not the history of the Bremen Cathedral itself.

The Bremen Cathedral, otherwise known as Petridom in honor of St. Peter, is located in the market square at the center of the city. The first church on this site was constructed ca. 789 by St. Willihad, an early missionary to the Frisians. Three years later, the city and its timber cathedral were burned by attacking Saxons. In 805, a new bishop came to Bremen, and St. Peter's was rebuilt as a sandstone church. In 1041, most of Bremen, including the cathedral, was destroyed in a fire.

The new cathedral was built as a pillared basilica with round Romanesque arches and a flat ceiling. In the early 13th century, the Bremen Cathedral was remodeled in accord with Gothic stylistic principles. Due to the scarcity of stone in this region, the church was built in brick. The Reformation and the Thirty Years' War brought disruptions to the church's functionality. The Bremen Cathedral actually remained closed for almost 70 years. In 1638, the cathedral opened its doors again permanently, this time as a Lutheran church. In the 1880s, money was raised by the citizens of Bremen to restore the cathedral to its supposedly medieval appearance. The restoration was executed in the Romanesque Revival style, and the church reopened in 1901.

In 1943, the Bremen Cathedral was struck by a fire bomb. Another bombing in 1945 resulted in the destruction of 30% of the cathedral and severe destabilization of the rest of the church. Immediately after the war, the ruins were stabilized, and the cathedral was reconstructed in 1950. A restoration in the 1970s returned the church to its 1901 appearance.

The Bremen Cathedral offers plenty of interesting things for the visitor to view. There are hand-carved choir stalls from 1365, a stone baptismal font from 1229, and a pulpit from 1638 that was a gift from Queen Christina of Sweden. The crypt under the church contains 90 graves of local notables. Of particular interest are the eight mummies that can be viewed in the so-called "lead basement." One of these mummies seems to have been a man who was killed violently, as reflected by the bullet found in it.

The Bremen Cathedral is famed for its active music culture and programming. The cathedral possesses five organs, and an array of concerts are open to the public, focusing on organ and choral music.

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About this Article

Rachel Hildebrandt

This travel guide has been written by Rachel Hildebrandt.

Starting with her first trip to Germany at the age of 16, Rachel has traveled, worked, and studied in Germany extensively. Although her first encounter with German culture was in Lower Saxony, since that time the focus of her subsequent work as a freelance historian and translator has shifted eastward. Building on her graduate studies in Dresden, Rachel has worked for a variety of German foundations as a historian and translator, and is currently pursuing research pertaining to the Sorbs in Lusatia (eastern Saxony).

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Location, Map, and Driving Directions

Location: Sandstraße 10-12, 28195 Bremen, Germany

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