Behind the shallow sea, called "Wattenmeer" with its changing tides,
bays and estuaries reach deeply into
the land. Next to the Weser estuary is the Hanseatic city of Bremen which features a magnificent market
The two-city state. Two cities, one state: Bremen and Bremerhaven are
65 km apart but nonetheless
belong together. The old merchant city and the young maritime town constitute the smallest German state
in terms of both area and population. Yet this Free Hanseatic City of Bremen is, next to Bavaria, the oldest
body politic in Germany, and after San Marino the second oldest city-republic in the world.
Bremen is also many centuries older than its sister city. Founded as
a bishopric in 787, it quickly
flourished, thanks to the privileges bestowed upon it as a market town. In the 11th century it was
described as the "Rome of the North". In 1358 Bremen became a member of the Hanseatic League, which
dominated trade in the North and Baltic Seas until well into the 16th century.
Risk and win. "Outside and in, risk and win", is the motto which tells
of this city's growth. And it made it
larger still because in 1827, when it seemed that the river Weser would be silted up, mayor Smidt founded
a new port a little downstream - Bremerhaven, which, together with other townships, grew into a new
Bremen and Bremerhaven are fast transshipment ports. The more profitable
small consignments (now
transported in containers) are preferred to bulk goods. Bremen almost has a monopoly of imports of tea
and coffee, tobacco and cotton. For other freight it competes with Hamburg, though no longer with its
own fleet since its Norddeutscher Lloyd was merged with Hamburg's Hapag to form Hapag-Lloyd.
Bremen has explored new avenues in other fields as well. It made itself
less dependent on maritime trade
and shipbuilding by developing a highly productive aerospace industry. It has also resumed car production
and is making its mark in the electronics sector. Whereas in former times all initiative came from the
mercantile sector, innovation today is unthinkable without the aid of science. Bremerhaven is the focal
point of German polar research. Also afloat there are the old barges and men-o'-war of the German
Bremen's "parlor". On the market place stands the Gothic cathedral of
St. Peter and the magnificent
Renaissance townhall with its very hospitable wine cellar. In front of it is Roland's column, symbol of the
city's freedom and a local landmark, like the nearby monument to Bremen's "town musicians". From the
market square the visitor enters the Bottcherstrasse, a narrow street full of legend built on the initiative of
the merchant Roselius. It is a brick monument to Bremen's civic spirit.
Size of region: 404 square kilometers
Capital city: Bremen (population 533, 000)
Important city: Bremerhaven (population 127,000)
Geographical data: The Free Hanseatic City of Bremen, the smallest state
of the Federal Republic of
Germany, consists of the two cities Bremen and Bremerhaven, both of which are situated in the delta of
the Weser, and separated by 60 kilometers belonging to the territory of Lower Saxony. Bremen is the
second largest North Sea port of the Federal Republic of Germany; Bremerhaven has developed into an
important fishing port.
Historical data: Bremen, which was founded in 787 as an episcopal city,
was able to largely ensure its
independence throughout the ups and downs of German history. The development of the city was mainly
influenced by its port and ships. In 965, a commercial guild was constituted, and long before Bremen
became member of the Hansa in 1358, commerce was lively on the Weser, ranging from Norway to the
Mediterranean Sea. Within the union of the Hanseatic cities, which was predominant in the commercial
trade in the North Sea and Baltic regions in the 14th to the 16th century, Bremen was, besides Hamburg
and Lubeck, in a position of importance. The 18th century was one of prosperity due to commerce with
East Asia and America, and, in the l9th century, Bremen was an important emigration port.
After the liquidation of the Holy Roman Empire (1806), the burgomaster
in office at the time Johann
Smidt, successfully ensured the independence of the Free City of Bremen in the German Alliance. It was
also Smidt's merit to have acquired a strip of the banks of the Weser from Hanover. This strip was later to
develop into the city of Bremerhaven. After the foundation of the German Reich in 1871, Bremen became
a federal state with the constitutionally laid down title Free Hanseatic City of Bremen. Unlike Hamburg and
Lubeck, Bremen was able to retain this title even during the National Socialist era,but nonetheless,in
1933,it was associated with Oldenburg as an administrative region.
In 1939, Bremerhaven was absorbed by the Prussian Wesermunde, but the
port itself remained part of
Bremen. As early as 1947, the US occupying forces, who succeeded the British in New Year 1947,
proclaimed the state of Bremen, and this state continued to exist in the Federal Republic of Germany. Even
today, Bremen is a port of transshipment and shipbuilding center in one. However, structural changes have
come to be, one sign of the times being the shutting-down of the traditional shipyard AG Weser in 1983.
Today, Bremen sees its future chances in a combination of foreign trade and hitech industries.