Sunday, 19 February 2012

Staying Local 2008 - Searching For A Rat

Hameln, Hamelin in English, has been an important settlement for centuries. It first became a (civitas) town in 1200AD. Traders were frequently troubled by highway robbery, thus from 1426 until 1572, Hameln joined The Hanseatic League.

During the 16th century, several buildings were constructed in the Wesser Renaissance style by the merchants and landed gentry. Features of this style of architecture include subdivided façades with scrolls, pyramids, obelisks, decorations of globes, fine chiselled stones, ornamented wooden friezes with coats of arms, masks and envy heads.

The Leisthaus was built on behalf of a wealthy corn trader, Gerd Leist. Today, it houses the Hameln Museum. Although there were no English explanation cards for the exhibits, an informative guidebook was purchased at the end of our visit.

The Leisthaus is the building on the right in the photo below, with the Stiftsherrenhaus, or Canon’s house to the left.

Frederick Poppendiek, the mayor and a businessman of Hameln, built Stiftsherrenhaus in 1558. There are several biblical figures depicted between the floors and under the eaves. These include God the Father, Christ, the apostles, David and Samson.

Another two prominent buildings in the Wesser style are the Hochzeitshaus

and the Rattenfängerhaus.

I will return to these later, as they are integral to my next post.

In the 17th century, Hameln started to be developed as a fortress and with the River Wesser as a natural defence; the town became the strongest fortress within the Hanoverian principality.

The two drawings of Hameln, the first from 1622 and the second dating from 1741 show the transformation.

Hameln’s next stage of development started in 1808 when Napoleon ordered the fortress to be destroyed. In doing this, the town was able to expand into the surrounding area. Later in the 19th century, Hameln came under Prussian jurisdiction. Rail links and a carpet weaving factory soon followed.

During the Second World War, Hameln became a target for the Allies bombing raids, destroying much of the town. In 1968, a total restoration of the old town was started and subsequently completed in 1992. Hidden away, it is still possible to find unrestored buildings of the old Hameln,

While the modern day centre looks like this.

Throughout the town, statues have been placed on main streets to add further interest.

Many alleyways need to be investigated, as you never know what you may miss.

Even the local park directs us back to England!

Unfortunately, we are still reminded of the past.

For now, let’s sit back and relax.