The train stops in Hamelin, we have 2 hours until the onward journey – off we go, sightseeing on the fly, let’s see if it’s worth stopping by for a longer stop sometime.
Hamelin is in Lower Saxony and when I hear the town’s name, I only think of the story of the Pied Piper. The story of the Pied Piper is based on a legend that dates back to 1284.
Hamelin was a member of the Hanseatic League from 1426 to 1572. The economic rise began in the 16th century. Some of the magnificent buildings of the Weser Renaissance, which can still be seen in the town today, were built during this period.
From 1664, the city was expanded into a fortress. Star-shaped bastions were built around the town, which were reinforced by further fortifications in the following years. For a long time, the town was considered impregnable and was the strongest fortress in the Electorate of Hannover. In 1806, Hamelin surrendered to the French without a fight after the Battle of Jena. Napoleon ordered the fortifications to be dismantled, leaving only two town towers.
During the Second World War, air raids and ground troops destroyed several houses in the historic inner city area of the town and the bridge over the Weser during their advance. From the end of the 1960s, extensive renovation of the old town began to counteract the decay of Hamelin’s half-timbered houses. Today the town centre is a pedestrian zone and there are beautiful half-timbered houses to discover.
A short stroll through Hamelin
Two hours in Hamelin are of course not enough to explore the entire city centre. We followed the Pied Piper’s Path through the town for a short distance, which is marked with special stones in the pavement. So we still had the chance to discover some really beautiful half-timbered and stone houses and even had the chance to climb up a church tower.
The beautiful Stiftsherrenhaus dates from 1558. The half-timbered house was built by the merchant and mayor Friedrich Poppendiek and is characterised by rich ornamental and figural decoration on the front of the house. Ancient planetary gods and numerous biblical motifs are depicted.
I find it beautiful. The Stiftsherrenhaus is connected to the neighbouring Leisthaus by a bridge. The Hamelin Museum is located in the houses.
The Leisthaus dates from 1587/89 and was built for the patrician and grain merchant Gerd Leist.
Part of the façade that can be seen today consists of original elements of the Weser Renaissance. I find the envious and defensive heads that form the façade of the house exciting. These were not meant to frighten the viewers, but to keep mischief away from the house.
Pied Piper House in Hamelin
Even though there was far too little time for the Pied Piper tour of Hamelin, we were at least able to take a look at the Pied Piper’s House from the outside.
The house was built in 1602/03 by the councillor Arendes in the Weser Renaissance style.
It got its name from the inscription on the side of the house, which reads:
ANNO 1284 AM DAGE JOHANNIS ET PAULI WAR DER 26 JUNII DORCH EINEN PIPER MIT ALLERLEI FARVE BEKLEDET GEWESEN CXXX KINDER VERLEDET BINNEN HAMELEN GEBON TO CALVARIE BI DEN KOPPEN VERLOREN
(In the year 1284 on the day of St. John and St. Paul the 26th of June by a piper had been dressed with all kinds of paint 130 children lost in Hamelin born to Kalvarie at the Koppen)
A really beautiful house that refers to the Pied Piper legend.
The building known today as the Hochzeitshaus (Wedding House) was built in 1610-17 as a festival and celebration house for the citizens of Hamelin. Originally, it was planned to house a large hall, storage rooms for municipal weapons, the council pharmacy, the council scales and a wine tavern in the building. Inscriptions on the portals on Osterstraße refer to the planned uses.
Unfortunately, we did not hear the chimes of the Hochzeithaus. It plays the Pied Piper song “Wandern ach wandern durch Berg und Tal” daily at 9.35 am and the Weser song “Hier hab ich so manches liebe Mal mit meiner Laute gesessen” at 11.35 am. At 1.05 p.m., 3.35 p.m. and 5.35 p.m., a bronze door opens and you can see the figurines and carillon with the Pied Piper legend. It’s a pity, for that reason alone I really must go to Hamelin again.
Market Church St.Nicolai in Hamelin
I went to the Marktkirche rather by chance. Patrick stopped in front of the door with our luggage and I actually just wanted to take a quick look inside the church.
The 13th century Marktkirche was destroyed in the Second World War and then rebuilt. The result is a basilica with a straight ceiling in the nave and aisles.
Even before I could take a closer look at the church, I spotted a notice about the possibility of climbing the tower and saw a spiral staircase leading up. Luckily, a nice staff member put our suitcases in a storage room, we couldn’t possibly have taken them up with us. After the spiral staircase was a wooden ladder that led through a hole in the floor of the church tower. The hole was so narrow that we even had to take off the small backpack on our backs beforehand in order to fit through without any problems.
But it was really worth it. From the church tower you have a beautiful view of Hamelin, which encouraged us to plan another somewhat longer stay in the city.