With its long past as a member of the Hanseatic League, the compact city of Bremen is home to Germany's oldest port, and still governs itself as the smallest state in the country's Federal Republic.
Many of the city's modern foundations developed in the late 8th century, when the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne sent missionaries to convert the area's heathens to Christianity. In 789 AD the city's first church was built on the site where the mighty cathedral stands today, and the population increased significantly.
Bremen was granted free market status in the 990s, giving the city's independent merchants the same trading rights as those working on behalf of the crown; this was a major step for Bremen's economic expansion. Its position on the River Weser ensured the city was in a prime position for trade, and before long business was booming. Over the following centuries wool and wood were exported, and were exchanged for coffee and tropical fruits.
Sightseeing in Bremen
Having been one of the most prosperous cities in Germany for hundreds of years, today Bremen is a joy to discover. Among its many attractions are the grand historic buildings in the city centre, built by wealthy traders in the Middle Ages. Other highlights include the immense cathedral and the statue of the Bremen City Musicians, made famous in the folk fairytale by the Brothers Grimm.