The town hall with its artistically designed renaissance facade and the more than 5 m high Roland column, which was erected at the beginning of the 15th century as a symbol for the rights and privileges of the Free Imperial City of Bremen, have adorned the center of the Hanseatic city for 600 years. They not only document the economic importance of the city, but also the self-confidence of the citizens.
Town hall and Roland in Bremen: facts
|Official title:||Town hall and Roland in Bremen|
|Cultural monument:||Town hall with ornate Renaissance facade and arcades, Upper Hall 41 x 15 x 8 m; 5.50 m tall Roland figure, one of the oldest and most representative Roland statues in Germany; Symbol of urban freedom, symbol of market rights and privileges; Reference to the Roland song, heroic epic from the 12th century on the death of the paladin Roland in the fight against the pagans at the time of Charlemagne|
|Meaning:||Unique testimony to the development of civil autonomy and market rights|
Town hall and Roland in Bremen: history
|965||Customs and coinage law for Bremen|
|1358||Bremen member of the Hanseatic League|
|1404||Erecting the stone Roland|
|1405-1408||Construction of the town hall|
|around 1555-1612||Lüder von Bentheim|
|1587||Visit of the painter, engraver and architect Hans Vredeman de Vries in Bremen|
|1609-1612||Facade in the style of the Weser Renaissance|
|1905||Redesign of the Güldenkammer based on plans by Heinrich Vogeler|
|1909||Monument protection for the old town hall|
|1909-1913||Construction of the New Town Hall|
|1938, 1959, 1969||Restorations of the Roland|
|1973||Monument protection for the New Town Hall|
Civic pride with shield and sword
Even if the Bremen town hall is not considered to be the largest late medieval town hall building in Europe – with its extremely neat renaissance facade it still knows how to impress every viewer. At its core, the town hall is a child of the Gothic style and was built as a rectangular hall storey building with the lower and upper hall. In accordance with the changing taste of the time, a particularly splendid Renaissance dress was thrown over this gothic core.
The brick town hall building with a copper, continuous gable roof takes up the form of a palace of princely palaces and rises on the north side of the market square. Spiritual power has always flanked the seat of the council: St. Petri Cathedral and Church of Our Lady “frame” the town hall building with its open arcades. While the town hall was built “eye to eye” with the bishop’s church in Osnabrück, the stone Roland was simply set up in Bremen in the early 15th century so that the bishop could not avoid this symbol of market and city freedom when leaving the cathedral catch sight of. With the Roland figure – a youthful warrior in armor and cloak, who raises his sword high – reference was made to Emperor Charlemagne, the alleged founder of the city.
When the seat of the councilors originated, the building, originally built in Gothic austerity, was just as large as the seat of the archbishop – this was another way of expressing the self-confidence of the citizens of Bremen. At the same time, the design of the facades, which adorn larger-than-life figures of the emperor and his seven electors, shows the relationship between the Hanseatic city of Bremen and the empire. The two large halls on top of each other and the portals on the eastern and western fronts bear witness to the original building. In particular, the lower hall with two rows of ten mighty, oak support pillars is a typical example of the sparseness of Gothic secular architecture.
According to the plans of Lüder von Bentheim and Hans Vredeman de Vries, the town hall was rebuilt from 1608 to 1612. First of all, the central part of the building was torn down, the windows widened and a three-axis central projection with a “Flemish gable” was built. The “front” of the town hall is a masterpiece of stonemasonry: in addition to the coats of arms of four mayors, there are reliefs in the spandrels of the arcade arches that showcase various virtues. Between the spandrels you can see pendants of fruit and busts (herms). The friezes above the arcade are dedicated to subjects such as “Triumph of temperance over greed” or depict images of the four evangelists.
When the town hall was expanded, it was clear from the start that a harmonious overall picture of the new and old town hall was to be created. The lead architect Gabriel von Seidl (* 1848, † 1913) succeeded in merging the medieval hall construction and the three times larger new building. In doing so, lavish ornamental furnishings were deliberately avoided for the new building.
According to ehealthfacts, while other town halls in Germany did not survive the turmoil of time unscathed, Bremen town hall was spared such a fate. The two city hall halls on top of each other have also been preserved to this day. The upper floor is used for representative purposes only, while the lower and the arcades were originally used by the “common” people on market days. In contrast, the city council met in the upper hall. But justice was also pronounced there, and delegates from other countries were received. Today the hall is used for receptions and concerts. The huge wall paintings The Solomonic Judgment and The Founding of Bremen are particularly impressive. Another gem is the Güldenkammer, a total work of art preserved in pure Art Nouveau style.