Bremen Roland

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Roland statue in the market square

The Bremen Roland , a Roland statue erected in 1404 on the market square in front of the town hall , is a landmark of Bremen . The Roland statue has been a listed building since 1973 and, together with the town hall, was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2004 .

The figure is 5.47 meters high and stands on a 60 centimeter high, stepped pedestal. In the back it is supported by a pillar which is crowned by a Gothic ornamented canopy . The monument reaches a total height of 10.21 meters, making it the largest free-standing statue of the German Middle Ages.


The coat of arms of Roland

Depicted is the military leader and alleged nephew of Charlemagne, known from songs and epics ( Roland's song ) . So Roland stands on the market as the emperor's representative, he proclaims and guarantees the market rights and freedoms that the city was supposedly granted. This is what the inscription on the shield (probably renewed in 1512) expresses:

"Vryheit do ik ju openbar / d 'karl vnd mēnich vorst vorwar / desser stede ghegheuen hat / des danket god' is mī radt"

"Freedom I evidently to you / which Karl and many a prince truly gave / to this place / thank God for it, that is my advice"

The attributes of Roland, who is characterized by armor (chain mail collar, breastplate, greaves) and hairstyle as a free man with a knightly lifestyle, illustrate and specify this: the raised sword is here more a symbol of municipal jurisdiction than the knight's badge, because it is missing the scabbard attached to the belt . The shield with the double eagle coat of arms of the empire is a symbol of the long contested Bremen claim to imperial freedom . The small figure under Roland's feet is mainly interpreted by research as a subjugated Friesian chief.
The proximity to the town hall (which was built at the same time) and the reference to the Ostertor- Obernstraße street axis are important for the location and direction of the figure . While Roland's gaze, pointing towards the cathedral, was previously viewed as a gesture of power directed against the archbishop's lord of the city, today there is good reason to deny a message of this orientation that is demonstratively directed against the church and the archbishop.


The "cripple" at Roland's feet
Original head of Roland in the Focke-Museum Bremen
Postcard ~ 1905, Roland statue on the market square

A predecessor of the Bremen Roland was made of wood and was overturned and burned by warriors of Archbishop Albert II on the night of May 28th to 29th, 1366 . Like the new one, it bore the imperial coat of arms and, like the other oldest Roland statues , was probably erected in the 1340s or 50s. In 1404, before construction began on the town hall, the Bremen council had the new, stone Roland built. The stonemasons Claws Zeelleyher and Jacob Olde were paid 170 Bremen marks for this.

The figure was made Elmkalkstein , the pillars of sandstone from Obernkirchen manufactured and initially colored adopted . In the 18th century it was painted gray, later the visible stone with sparse coloring was preferred. Around 1811 the Roland was temporarily in danger of being demolished when a market hall was planned for the square, but this was not carried out due to the end of French rule.

The Roland has been restored several times. In 1939 it was threatened with collapse and was rebuilt on a new concrete foundation, individual blocks were replaced in the process. On September 29, 1939, as an air raid protection measure, it was fitted with wooden cladding filled with sand and, a little later, bricked splinter protection. The lost grille was replaced during a thorough restoration in 1983/84. The head was replaced by a true-to-material copy, the original has been in the Focke Museum ever since . In the old Bremen tradition, these costs were covered by a sponsor. During the last renovation in 1989, a cassette with Nazi propaganda was discovered inside the statue , which had been deposited there in 1938.



In 1848 Friedrich Rückert wrote a poem Roland, der Ries' at Bremen Town Hall, later set to music by Franz Magnus Böhme , in eight verses. Three more verses were added in December 1863, relating to Bremen's role in the run-up to the German-Danish War , when Denmark wanted to include the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein in the dominion of the crown. In stark contrast to the Hanseatic sister cities of Hamburg and Lübeck , Bremen strongly opposed this project on December 7, 1863. Rückert's verses express contempt for the position of Hamburg and Lübeck.

The Low German vernacular also dealt with the statue and rhymed:

Roland with that kruse hair,
Wat he kicks so sunnerbar!
Roland with the coat of arms
Stands as low as a stick.
Roland with the pointed knee,
Segg maal, who doesn't hurt that?

on the Peace of Westphalia .

Philately and Numismatics

The Roland of Bremen on a medal by Johann Blum 1648
Bremen Roland
as postage stamp 1988
Bremen Roland as postage stamp 1989
German 2 Euro commemorative coin 2010
(the statue is actually much smaller and oriented to the right.)

The motif of the Bremen Roland was taken up in philately and numismatics .


The fountain figure in Bederkesa , which at that time belonged to Bremen, is directly related to the Roland of Bremen.

On the Neuer Markt in Bremen Neustadt , the Little Roland stands as a Roland fountain from 1737, based on a design by the sculptor Theophilus Wilhelm Frese .

The Iron Roland , a wooden replica, stood in the corner between the Old and New Town Hall from 1915 to 1918; Anyone who donated to a Bremen soldiers' home was allowed to drive a nail into the figure. The figure stored in the town hall afterwards has not been preserved.

An approximately 1.50 meters large wooden replica of the Bremen Roland is located in the Evangelical Lutheran Zion Church in New York district of Brooklyn . It is part of a pulpit and was a gift from the city of Bremen in 1890 to former citizens who found a new home in New York.

The Brazilian city ​​of Rolândia was founded in 1932 by German emigrants and was named after Roland from Bremen. Since 1957, the place has also had a four-fifths replica of the Bremen Roland, donated by Bremen coffee merchants.

For the 445th anniversary of the city of Quito, Bremen gave a scaled-down replica of its Roland, which is now on Avenida Amazonas.

The Japanese Atsuo Nishi had a faithful replica of the Bremen Roland built in his amusement park in Obihiro on Hokkaidō in 1970 . It is part of a larger German fairy tale town with various replicas of German characters.

Since 2004, a miniature of Roland has been in Roland-Park near the town hall of Belgern .


Because the distance between the two knees at 55.372 centimeters comes very close to the size of the Bremen cubit (set at the equivalent of 57.87 centimeters in 1818 ), R. Spichal suspected that a standard size was deliberately set with this distance. The pointed shape and the metal design seem to speak for it. Also close to medieval marketplaces were actually often materially shaped or marked on town halls, also on church portals, accessible to the general public. But nowhere, as far as known so far, is such an older standard measure an integral part of an image. So the idea remains a hypothesis, the truth of which remains for the time being completely unprovable due to a lack of precise knowledge of medieval measurements (especially length measurements) and any historical references to the presumed connection.

People in Bremen like to say that the city will remain free and independent as long as Roland stands and watches over it. The legend that this is why a second Roland statue was hidden in the vaulted cellar of the town hall as a quickly available replacement, is probably based on the dumping of the Iron Roland (see above) in the town hall between the world wars. The figure between his feet is often, but completely unfounded, referred to as the cripple who is said to have crawled around an area in 1032, which Countess Emma then gave to the city as a civic pasture .

As an April Fool's joke, the Bremen Senate Chancellery distributed the press release in 2004 that “the Bremen yardstick continues to be used in science and technology” and “the measure of length is only used internationally under the term LMR (Length Measurement Roland) in special applications in aircraft construction, space travel and underwater location ".

regional customs

The Roland with the Freimarkt "gingerbread heart"

On November 5th, from 1813 to 1863, the people of Bremen celebrated the “Day of Resurrected Freedom” and made it the birthday of their “Statue of Liberty”. This was a reminder of the end of the long-term occupation of the city by Napoleonic France and the liberation by Karl von Tettenborn in November 1813. Earlier that day, dancing girls laid flowers in front of the Roland statue. Now the custom is revived: every year on November 5th, Roland is adorned with a bouquet of flowers and the UNESCO flag.

During the Bremer Freimarkt folk festival , which has been celebrated since 1035 and has been taking place on the Bürgerweide since the 1930s , the Roland is now adorned with a large gingerbread heart made of cardboard and colorful balloons. The opening of the Freimarkt takes place every year in October on a Friday and is celebrated at 4:00 p.m. on the market square as part of the Small Freimarkt , when members of the Bremen chimney sweep guild furnish the Roland with his Freimarkt jewelry. At the same time, the actual folk festival on the Bürgerweide opens its gates, while the "official opening" - the traditional tapping of the barrel in the Bayern tent by the Bremen Interior Senator - does not take place until two hours later. The gingerbread heart slung around Roland carries the traditional exclamation of the people of Bremen on the Freimarkt days: “Ischa Freimaak!”, Which translates as “Yes, Freimarkt!”.

As with the town musicians a few meters away , there is a custom for Roland that says that whoever rubbed his knee will return to Bremen. How popular this custom is can be seen from the dark discoloration of both knees caused by frequent contact.

Further attribution

Roland von Bremen is the namesake of

  • the Roland Schacht , journeyman association of foreign and domestic Roland brothers founded in the 19th century in Nuremberg by Bremer journeyman.
  • the Rolandklinik in Bremer Neustadt.
  • the Roland Line founded in 1905 as a shipping company that operated transatlantic traffic with cargo steamers; it was taken over by North German Lloyd in 1925.
  • the monthly magazine Roland for liberal pedagogy, which u. a. Heinrich Scharrelmann and Fritz Gansberg have published.
  • the Roland envelope , an envelope Society for combined transport in Bremer Güterverkehrszentrum
  • the Rolandmühle in Bremen , a manufacturer of ground cereal products based in the Handelshäfen district.
  • of the Roland-Center , a shopping center in the Huchting district
  • the radio call name Roland , which the Bremen police use , followed by a number code, to address the vehicles in use.
  • the Roland weapon system , an anti-aircraft missile system developed in the 1970s in Franco-German cooperation.
  • the Roland C.II , a German two-seater used in World War I reconnaissance aircraft .
  • of the Roland , long -distance express train and later Trans-Europ-Express train to and from Bremen .
  • the tram railcar No. 561 or 3561 of the Bremer Straßenbahn AG , which is called Roland and since 1986, after its conversion, Roland the Giant.
  • the Bremer Pokal was formerly known as the "Roland-Pokal".
  • the so-called Roland as an alternative "currency" in the "Tauschwatt" exchange ring


Individual evidence

  1. ^ Monument database of the LfD
  2. ^ Konrad Elmshäuser , Hans-Christoph Hoffmann, Hans-Joachim Manske (eds.): World Heritage Application. The town hall and the Roland statue on the market square in Bremen. Schünemann, Bremen 2003, ISBN 3-7961-1848-8 , p. 79.
  3. ^ Town hall and statue of Roland in Bremen . German UNESCO Commission eV. Retrieved December 18, 2013.
  4. Dieter Hägermann: Some remarks on the forged documents of Heinrich V, Wilhelm von Holland and Wenzels for the city of Bremen. In: Bremisches Jahrbuch . Vol. 56, 1978, ISSN  0341-9622 , pp. 15-38.
  5. so still: Volker Plagemann: Bremen and Bremerhaven. 3rd completely changed edition. Deutscher Kunstverlag, Munich et al. 1979, ISBN 3-422-00113-1 , p. 28.
  6. ^ Konrad Elmshäuser: The first Roland and the first town hall of Bremen. In: Bremisches Jahrbuch. Vol. 84, 2005, pp. 9-46, here p. 14f.
  7. ^ Konrad Elmshäuser: The first Roland and the first town hall of Bremen. In: Bremisches Jahrbuch. Vol. 84, 2005, pp. 9-46, here pp. 16-26.
  8. The refutation of the legend of an imminent transport to Paris in: Rolf Kirsch: The Ring Hall Projects by Jakob Ephraim Polzin and Heinrich Averdieck for the Bremen market square (1811). In: Martina Rudloff (Red.): Classicism in Bremen. Forms of bourgeois culture (= Yearbook of Wittheit zu Bremen. Vol. 33). Hauschild, Bremen 1994, ISBN 3-929902-21-4 , p. 68.
  9. Eberhard Michael Iba: From the treasury of the German fairy tale route. Legends, stories, fairy tales, stories, poems and songs from Bremen, Bremerhaven, Verden and the like. Nienburg. Schünemann, Bremen 1987, ISBN 3-7961-1784-8 , p. 28.
  10. Reinhold Spichal: To each his own. Eenem Yeden dat Syne. Market and measure in history using the example of an old Hanseatic city. Brockkamp, ​​Bremen 1990, ISBN 3-922496-26-1 , pp. 47-55.
  11. ^ Herbert Schwarzwälder : "Countess" Emma von Lesum and the "Bremer Krüppel". Historical truth - legend - poetry. In: Yearbook of Wittheit zu Bremen. Vol. 18, 1974, ISSN  0447-2624 , pp. 387-406.
  12. Measured with a Bremer yardstick . Free Hanseatic City of Bremen - The Senate. Retrieved November 28, 2013.
  13. Wigbert Gerling: Bremer Elle - the measure for April fools . Weser courier . Retrieved March 15, 2010.
  14. ^ Herbert Black Forest: The Great Bremen Lexicon. Volume 2: L-Z. 2nd, updated, revised and expanded edition. Edition Temmen, Bremen 2003, ISBN 3-86108-693-X , p. 736.
  15. - Old tradition revived


See also

Web links

Commons : Bremer Roland  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Coordinates: 53 ° 4 ′ 33.1 ″  N , 8 ° 48 ′ 26.3 ″  E