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Bremen Cathedral

Bremen Cathedral – Bremer Dom or St. Petri Dom zu Bremen, dedicated to St. Peter, is a church situated in the market square in the center of Bremen, in northern Germany. The cathedral belongs to the Bremian Evangelical Church, a member of the Protestant umbrella organisation named Evangelical Church in Germany. It is the proto-cathedral of the former Prince-Archbishopric of Bremen.

To the east of the town hall, under the watchful eye of the Roland statue, stands St. Peter’s Cathedral which, with its spires, reaches a height of 99 metres. It is an unwritten rule that no structure in Bremen is allowed to be taller than the cathedral. Built primarily from sandstone, its architecture contains Romanesque and Gothic elements. The twin-towered facade is dominated by a rose window from the 13th century. The rococo pulpit dates from 1653 and was a present from Queen Christina of Sweden.

Despite the preeminent position of Bremen’s guilds, St. Peter’s Cathedral retains some links with the secular powers in the Hanseatic city. According to the Gospel of St. Matthew, the cathedral’s patron saint holds the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Bremen’s secular rulers appropriated one of them for the city’s coat of arms back in medieval times.

The cathedral has twin 99 meter towers referred to as the north tower and the south tower. The towers were constructed flanking the main entrance portal on the west front of the church between 1215 and 1253. In 1346 the towers were strengthened and given pyramidal tops of uneven heights. When the towers were restored and raised in the 1890s they were given Rhenish “helmets,” which still cap the towers today. It is possible to climb the south tower for a view of the city. The north tower remains closed. The crossing tower is a reminder of the original style of the west front towers with a pyramidal cap. During the Middle Ages the towers had eight bells. Today the towers house the cathedral’s four bells. The north tower has three bells. The oldest surviving bell is the “Maria Gloriosa cast in 1433 by the famous bell maker Ghert Klinghe. The other bells were removed and melted down for the war effort in World War II. In 1951 two bells, “Hansa” and “Felicitas”, were donated to the cathedral by former residents living abroad. In 1962 a prominent Bremen family donated a fourth bell, the “Brema,” which hangs in the south tower. The Brema weighs 7000 kg.

Bremen has a long-standing tradition of fine organ music since 1526. From 1698 to 1843 the famous organ built by Arp Schnitger, one of the Baroque period’s best known organ makers was the main organ. Its replacements, the Schulze organ and then the Wilhelm Sauer organ, one of the largest in northwest Germany. The cathedral today has five organs in different parts of the cathedral and continues the long tradition of great organs and organists.

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