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As Bremen is known for the Town Musicians, there are also other cities in Germany that are known for fairy tales. Halmelin is by far the city with the scariest legend of all, without a happy ending, but with many attempts to explain the origin of the story. Around the area called Weser Bergland the story of the whistler who kidnapped the city's children is well known. No wonder the city offers so much to immerse yourself in the fairy tale.
According to the Pied Piper Legend, Hamelin was hit by a terrible plague of rats about 730 years ago. The Pied Piper came into town, pulled out his flute and seduced the furry vermin with a tune that they all jumped and drowned in the river Weser. Relieved of the plague, the city's guards refused to pay the Pied Piper's wages, chased him out of the city, and thus incited his anger.
On June 26, 1284, the Pied Piper returned to town looking for revenge. He played a melody again, but this time it was not the rats that followed him, but the children. Seduced by the flute, they followed him through the forest behind a mountain and were never seen again.
Only two children came back, one of them was blind and the other mute, so that the lost children could not be found.
You can read the full legend in several languages here.
More than a scary fairy tale
To this day, nobody can explain exactly what happened in Hamelin and what the true core of the legend really is. Unlike the Town Musicians or the story of the rabbit and the hedgehog, the eerie event of the children's move actually took place.
The Pied Piper Museum tries to explain why the children of the city have disappeared. Various aspects are highlighted here that could have led to disappearance. Approaches to explain are, for example, the flight from illness, a child crusade or a mass murder. The most likely explanation for the disappearance of 130 children is probably less about a fairy tale figure.
But a visit to the museum is not only worthwhile because of the Pied Piper. In addition to the fairy tale, there is a lot to learn about the city's 60,000 inhabitants.
How to meet the pied piper
As soon as you reach the city center of Hamelin, small bronze plates with the image of a rat appear on the floor. These mark a trail on which all important sights of the city can be discovered.
Not meeting the Pied Piper in Hamelin is almost impossible. You can not only encounter him as a statue, wall painting or during an acting tour of the city.
We highly recommend the free open air play, which usually takes place every Summer Sunday at 12:00 on the market square. This has been staged by the citizens for over 64 years.
After watcing the play the inquisitive tourist can follow the Pied Piper and accompany him on a city tour. The tour lasts about 60 minutes. Adults pay 12 €, children 6 €.
What else does hamelin have to offer?
Hamelin's city center is beautiful. Small shops and cafes are lined up here, inviting you to sit down in the sun with a drink and take a look at the old houses. Some of the old buildings are wonderfully decorated half-timbered houses.
Water loving people watch out! Since Hamelin is near the Weser, there is of course the possibility to go to the water. The Weser is continuously developed as a canoe river, so anyone who likes to be out on the water should take the chance.
But other sports are not neglected here either.
In the midst of the Weser Uplands, Hamelin is also the starting point for many walks, hiking and cycling tours.
Hamelin is ideal for a day trip in the warmer months.