Old town and Viertel ('Quarter') explorer
Bremen off the beaten track: culture and sub-culture.
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This walk is especially suitable for those who are interested not just in historical Bremen, with its market square, Böttcherstrasse and the Schnoor quarter, but also the trendy areas away from the more well-known streets. Here you'll find plenty of old Bremen houses – some grand, some very simple – not to mention galleries and street art, children's play areas and bars tucked away down side streets. But one thing you won't find much of is traffic, which makes this a pleasant place for a stroll.
It's always worth exploring the side streets and alleyways on either side of the route.
And don't worry if you get lost in the warren of one-way streets: easily recognisable landmarks include the river Weser to the south, Wallanlagen Park towards the city centre, and, at the heart of it all, the streets Ostertorsteinweg and Vor dem Steintor, and Am Dobben and Sielwall.
Start off with a view out over the square from the steps in front of the State Parliament. You could start your tour by putting a donation into the Bremer Loch, a kind of underground charity box. Then pass between the town hall and cathedral as you walk through Domshof (Cathedral Square). Leaving Neptune behind you on your left, cross over the traffic lights and take the Bischofsnadel underpass towards Wallanlagen Park.
Wallanlagen means 'ramparts', and parts of the old city wall now make up this beautiful park. By the moat you'll find a small bakery where you can stock up on food for the walk. Further on you'll come to President Kennedy Platz, from where you can take a detour into Fedelhören, known for its antiques shops and other attractions. It's then on to Kohlhökerstrasse.
Along Kohlhökerstrasse, Heinrichstrasse, Auf den Häfen, Gertrudenstrasse and Bohnenstrasse, many grand houses exist.
Cross over Am Dobben (watching out for traffic) and go down Feldstrasse, then right into Mathildenstrasse. This street used to serve as a kind of brochure, where house builders could browse for different balcony designs and other architectural features. Look out for the design elements here, which differ very slightly from building to building. At the end of Mathildenstrasse, as you turn left onto Humboldtstrasse, then onto Fehrfeld, Römerstrasse, Schweizer Strasse, Wielandstrasse, Ziegenmarkt, Friesenstrasse and Horner Strasse, you'll go through the so-called Bermuda triangle with its trendy nightspots and typical Bremen corner bars.
Walk along the main road called Vor dem Steintor and then turn into Mecklenburger Strasse. You will then come to Berliner Platz, where there is an occasional organic food market – this is an ideal place to stop for a rest. The route then meanders through Berliner Strasse, Bremer Strasse, Brunnenstrasse, Auf der Kuhlen and Im Krummen Arm, leading eventually to Sielwall, but not before you have passed by some impressive houses and murals on the sides of buildings.
Go a little way up Sielwall in the direction of the river Weser and then take a right into Blücherstrasse. Carry on along In der Runken, Weberstrasse, Kreuzstrasse, Bleicherstrasse, through the Milchquartier and around the back of the Bremen Theatre, then take the path that leads between the large houses and the underground car park into Wallanlagen Park.
In this section of the park between the Kunsthalle gallery and the river Weser, you go past the Altmannshöhe memorial and left past the Kunsthalle until you get to the large crossroads.
Walk a few metres along Ostertorstrasse in the direction of the city centre and then turn into Marterburg. You have now reached Bremen's oldest quarter. The route continues along Hinter der Balge, Schnoor, Stavendamm, Lange Wieren and Dechanatstrasse. Take your time exploring the Viertel and don't forget to see the tiny square known as Wüstestätte.
Once you have crossed the main road at the crossing, Dechanatstrassee becomes Balgebrückstrasse, on which you continue for a short while towards the river until you come to a small passage leading to Böttcherstrasse, where you'll see a map of the street and some old photographs of the area. Wander through the Expressionist ensemble of buildings along Böttcherstrasse before crossing over Schüttingstrasse and making your way back to the market square.
Arriving at the town hall, you are back at your starting point, where you can enjoy the view from the steps of the guildhall.
Ready to go further?
If you've enjoyed your tour of the Viertel, then you could walk back along Domsheide and through Wallanlagen Park to Goetheplatz, where you'll find a range of museums as well as the Bremen Theatre. If you continue via Ostertorsteinweg and the Sielwall corner crossroads, the heart of the Viertel, you'll come to Vor dem Steintor. And by now you have probably found your favourite bar – a place where you can, as the locals like to say, U'pn Swutsch – go for a few drinks.