There is a German city rivalry, maybe not as viscious as the one between Cologne and Düsseldorf, but quite profound nonetheless: The one between my hometown Hamburg and it’s fellow Hanseatic city Bremen. I am in a bit of a double bind there because I was born and raised in Hamburg, but my mum is from Bremen, and while Hamburg is unmatched and unrivaled as my home, I do have a soft spot for Bremen as well. If I must take sides in football, I even support their team Werder Bremen (but shh! Don’t tell my dad!).
The coat of arms of Bremen shows a key – and it is said to be the key to the gates of heaven. It is in the coat of arms because Saint Peter, who holds the key to heaven, is the patron saint of the Bremen Cathedral. Hamburg’s coat of arms has a gate, they call the city the Gate to the World, and when I was small I heard the story that the Bremen key unlocked the Hamburg gate. Either story works fine by me – Bremen opens the gate to something wonderful, be it heaven or the world. Or just its own beautiful urban scenery.
I went to Bremen to see family between Christmas and New Year’s, and I took my most amazing Christmas gift – my new camera, a Sony NEX-3N. I am only just starting to get into photography, and I am not going to give you a professional review of any kind (because I am not nearly knowledgeable enough), but I know that quite a few will be interested in knowing which camera took these pictures. I for my part am insanely happy about the pictures‘ quality and feel like I can now finally support my writing with images that are more than plain visual aids, but an inspiration in themselves. So I set out on my trip to Bremen intent on capturing some beautiful images.
The day is mild for the middle of winter, and the sky is overcast as I make my way from the train station to the city centre. Shamefully I must admit that I don’t know Bremen well, so I need to use my phone for orientation, but it isn’t difficult. Once pointed in the right direction, I just let myself drift a little and quickly find the market square with its beautiful cathedral – to me, one of the prettiest churches in Germany – and the town hall in its red brick beauty.
I love the Northern German market squares. I love market squares in general, but the ones in Nothern Germany are wide and open and not cozy and overloaded with quirky architectural knickknack. I could linger here forever amidst the pretty buildings and do people watching. On I go toward the cathedral.
There has been a church in this place since 789 A.D.! No, there is no 1 missing in that number. Yes, that is over 1200 years ago. It was wooden then, the first stone construction came about in the 11th century – that is still a really long time ago… My mum had her confirmation here, and I feel a strange deep connection with the church. Maybe it is the blood red net vault, or generally the intense colours of blue and gold against whitewashed walls. Not even the fact that it isn’t a red brick church can turn me against it.
After having lingered on the market square for a little while, I make my way toward the Weser River /for what would a Hanseatic City be without the water!), say hi quickly and take a picture of the bridge I find there, which is soon bound to be on my Bridges on Sundays series 🙂 and then I am happy to roam the Schnoor, an amazingly pretty narrow lane in a riverside district by the same name. The word is lower German for „string“, and strings were what used to be made in this area.
Today the small houses that line the tiny alleyway house souvenire shops and coffee places, and tourists are all around. I still like the cobble stone and the occasional half timber, and all the details you can spot on the facades.
The Schnoor is a place for those who want to discover small, random trifle; little things that might escape someone else’s eye, like decorations or inscriptions or grown over reliefs on house walls. It also invites for getting lost in the little aisles and walkways of the quarter, and to dream yourself away to hundreds of years ago when fishermen would live here, in close proximity of the river, and it would smell of salt water and fish and harbour.
My time for discovering and photo hunting in Bremen is all too limited, but by the time I must leave to get to my family meet up, the sun has emerged and flooded the city with slightly golden bright winter light. I take another picture of the market square, of the townhall bathed in sunshine.
The way the shadows creep uopn the building, claiming it, while the sun still triumphs over them and makes the red bricks shine colourfully, looks so beautiful to me. The line between shadow and light – between evil and good? sad and happy? mournful and hopeful? – is so clear cut, so nicely absolute, radical, no grey zone, nothing that is hard to grasp or define. Life is much more complex than that. But beauty, very often, is plain and simple. It is just there. All around.