Historical: From medieval houses to Weser Renaissance architecture
Bremen, the Hanseatic city on the Weser river, can look back on 1,200 years of history. The grand old buildings around the market square betray its roots as a trading centre, but Bremen has the feel of a city on the up. Besides its cosmopolitan appeal, Bremen offers a journey back through the centuries, full of monuments to a distinguished history and bristling with enthralling stories. There are pretty little houses lined up like pearls on a string, donkeys that shake hands and a cathedral under close observation.
Bremen's attractions include the ornate Weser Renaissance town hall (UNESCO World Heritage), the Schnoor – Bremen's oldest quarter, the quaint buildings in Böttcherstrasse, the cathedral and the statue of Roland on the historical market square. The Roland, Bremen's very own 'statue of liberty', has stood as an emblem of independence since 1404. A tour of the most notable sights does not even require a map, as 2,000 brass and steel studs guide visitors from Liebfrauenkirchhof to Böttcherstrasse via the market square and the Schnoor quarter.
Bremen's Überseestadt district provides a lesson in how to merge the past and the present. One of the largest regeneration projects in Europe, an innovative city quarter is being created here right on the banks of the Weser among the old docks. The new architecture rising up next to converted old structures gives Überseestadt its dynamic flair.
Innovative: From worlds of knowledge to technology parks
Innovation by tradition – breaking new ground has always been Bremen's forte. This is a place where history is lived and the future is shaped; where Hanseatic heritage, tradition, cutting-edge technology, science and space travel are brought together to create a new and innovative whole. Whether it's worlds of discovery, science centres, university research or pioneering technologies, Bremen has initiated countless projects which prove that science is anything but dry and boring. The city also endeavours to maintain close links between science and the local community.
"Tell me and I'll forget. Show me and I'll remember. Involve me and I'll understand." Ancient wisdom from the Chinese philosopher Confucius that Bremen has turned into reality: in the form of museums that enlighten in an entertaining fashion and discovery centres that are much more than just a fun day out. For the 'worlds of knowledge' in Bremen and Bremerhaven the magic is in the mix – a wealth of information that is well explained and clearly presented. These attractions really know how to bring their subjects to life – from the Universum science experience, the botanika centre and the Ethnological Museum in Bremen to the Zoo am Meer, the Maritime Museum, the Emigration Centre and the Klimahaus in Bremerhaven.
Bremen does not just impart scientific knowledge, it also puts it into practice. The city on the Weser river has been an outstanding centre of science for over 90 years. From shipbuilding and aircraft construction to space stations and rocket stages, the city has cemented its reputation as a home of high-tech industry. The Astrium, for example, offers an insight into the latest research and development for the space programme. Astrium is a working site too: visitors can watch parts being integrated into Ariane 5 rockets and the Automated Transfer Vehicle or ATV. Bremen Space tour is one of the guided tours run by Bremer Touristik-Zentrale (BTZ). It offers the chance to watch Astrium scientists at work and to discover how technicians on the ground stay in contact with their colleagues in the International Space Station.
Maritime: Of peat barges, pirate ships and container terminals
Flowing through the heart of Bremen is the Weser river: an old trading route that was the driving force behind the city's emergence as a proud Hanseatic centre. Bremen's seafaring traditions are still alive and well today and have a big part to play in its unique tourist appeal. The Schlachte Embankment runs right beside the Weser and is a magnet for locals and visitors alike. There are always people milling around by the water, especially when the sun is out. Among Bremen's more unusual locations with a maritime flair is the fast-growing Überseestadt district, where the former city docks are being transformed into a vibrant community for the 21st century.
Trade via the Weser still has a major role to play in Bremen. The city has maintained its leading position among the North Sea ports despite some stiff competition. Bremen's ports have long since ceased to be the stuff of seafaring romance; nowadays they are highly specialised, modern components of a high-tech maritime economy. Shipping and sightseeing are on the agenda at busy Neustadt harbour in Bremen and the gigantic container terminal in Bremerhaven, which encompasses Europe's biggest car transshipment terminal. The former emigration centre on Columbus Quay is now a hub for some of the world's finest cruise liners.
Buzzing: From street acrobatics to open-air classics
Bremen Theatre, which comprises the Theater am Goetheplatz, the Schauspielhaus and the Braukeller, has been overseen by artistic director Hans-Joachim Frey (formerly of Dresden's Semper Opera House) since the 2007/2008 season. The programme he curates is themed on countries around the world.
Bremen maintains a strong musical tradition through companies such as the Bremen Philharmonic and the internationally acclaimed German Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra of Bremen. Estonian-born Paavo Järvi has the honour of being the incumbent head conductor for the orchestra. Under his direction, the Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra of Bremen rehearsed the full set of Beethoven symphonies and performed them in places as far away as New York, Montreal and Tokyo.
Dame Margaret Price declared the Glocke to be "the finest hall in the world for singers" and the great conductor Herbert von Karajan considered it to be one of the three best concert halls in Europe. Marvellous acoustics and original art deco auditoriums lend the venue its distinctive character, while the central location close to Bremen's historical market square adds to the charm of an evening at the Glocke.
In addition to all the playhouses and concert halls, Bremen can boast a great many exhibitions. The Weserburg, for example, is one of Germany's largest museums of modern art with some 6,000 square metres of exhibition space. The museum's setting – four brick-built warehouses on the Teerhof peninsula – makes it one of the most unusual art venues in Germany