Arrive just right, and sometimes thee lucks out and the hotel right up from the main City Gate will let you have the A-1 suite just because it is late, and nobody is probably going to ask for it now. Just go up to the desk and ask. We ended up in a penthouse, top floor, the glam of private spacious dressing rooms, kitchen (we did not need) and gleaming everything.
First, the hotel hunt. The GPS put us right in the middle of the Old Town, a no-car zone. Out fast.
Charlemagne started a Christian mission here in 780 AD, and the town then grew some 20 years later into a market town, a place for minting coin, and a commerce center. It is surrounded by a nature park, including the Teutoborg Forest. Long history as an administrative and cultural center - see ://www.osnabrueck.de/25374.asp/
The City of Peace they call it. Friedensstatt. That is ironic because the mission was clearly still on the frontier area where Charlemagne had been fighting the recalcitrant and frustratingly decentralized fierce Saxons for decades. His efforts to subdue them -- they had the gall to want their own lands, their own culture, their own religion -- started just two years before Charlemagne's disastrous and fabled massacre of 4500 Saxon prisoners. Defenseless. Whack whack whack. See Verden, and Saxon Grove or Saxon Wood nearby. Sachsenhain. See summary at ://www.planetware.com/verden/saxons-grove-d-ni-vershn.htm/
See the city walls. The famous watch towers. More peace? Who is watching out for them still. Towers like this, tall with the conical top, were often called "witches' towers" because women accused of witchcraft were kept there. In Osnabruck, another gate (looks like this one, with more ivy) was used as a prison, and also a witches pen. Some 300 women were burned as witches in Osnabruck, says this blase article. See ://www.derby.gov.uk/CommunityLiving/Twinning/OsnabruckToday.htm/
The gate was built as a memorial to the German soldiers from Osnabruck who died at Waterloo. See the inscription: there is the Waterloo. It is now known as the Heger Tor. See ://www.derby.gov.uk/CommunityLiving/Twinning/OsnabruckToday.htm
Story is: Charlemagne had killed some 4,500 Saxon prisoners after a particularly bruising battle, in a series of battles over 30-40 years to force conversion and subjugation of the Saxons. Year: 782 AD. Place: Verden.
We had trouble finding Verden, but found little Vorden and aimed for it thinking it was Verden spelled differently, silly us. If that is not the Saxon place, other things were bound to be there.
Tiny crossroads, lovely old church, half-timbered houses, a nice deli and convenience store with excellent sandwiches. And a slice of ordinary hometown life, no hype. Sit and chat a while.
But not our Saxons. A little trove of its own, however.
This chandelier just has Charlemagne coming out of every pore. The famous chandelier at the Cathedral in Aachen, however, the Barbarossa Chandelier made to commemorate Charlemagne's canonization, is fussier with towers and walls -- see ://www.sacred-destinations.com/germany/aachen-cathedral/
The chandelier here may have no connection to Charlemagne, but we think it is dignified and lovely.
The frescoes look as though the shown parts were preserved, and other parts whitewashed. Perhaps unrecoverable.
Half-timber as a building technique produces a strong frame, and a fill of bricks increases its durability. This site for children, to introduce the method, works for grown-ups, too. See ://www.historyforkids.org/learn/medieval/architecture/halftimber.htm/ The size of old half-timber houses and other medieval buildings is surprising. Big. Very big.
Ask at a house where Charlemagne and the Saxons might be, and get redirected -- it turned out to be directions to where Roman Legions met their demise at the hands of fervored Germanics in 9AD, at nearby Varusschlacht. That is different from the Saxons of Charlemagne's time. So we went there anyway.
There is something so sensible about the mash-up of concepts in old cities. How did earlier generations live, balanced between the concepts of the ethereal and the necessary, the angelic ethers and the need to shop. Welcome to the other side of Bremen: inside, the heavenly music. Outside, the trams that run right through and can run you right over; and the market with its colors and smells.
Take tram tracks seriously. Assume they are in good working order. Flush to the street, hardly noticeable until one is upon you. Park nose in at some hotel, go back to get a bag from the trunk, back up a little yourself to get the trunk lid down, and there it comes right at you, butt-close.
We are too accustomed to warning signs. In Europe, you are supposed to keep your eyes open. You get hit, you die, rule of tough. Is that so? Don't know. Don't want to.
Bremen was founded in the 9th Century but had been a Celtic settlement centuries before that. In 27 BC, it became a Roman colony. * Bremen was heavily bombed in World War II, see ://www.exulanten.com/bombb.html/. As with many old Cathedrals, built on even older crypts, the crypts survived well and, as in Augsburg, served as a shelter for the people. Here, see some of the outside side of Town Hall, and then the interior Crypt area of the Cathedral.
Connecting the eagle with the snake is an age-old source of tales. The twist here is that the Eagle is being bitten by the Snake.
In the dualistic view of life and religion, largely Eastern, Zarathustra looked up and saw the eagle, prideful and considering itself superior and far above humanity; and around its neck like a friend, not like prey, was a snake, a symbol of the practical, literally down-to-earth wisdom. The divided nature of mankind: some saw self-control v. chaos, the conflict that produces tragedy; others, more like Zarathustra, upper air and earth, heaven and earth, good v. evil, constructive v. destructive, see The Significance of Zarathustra's Eagle and Serpent, at ://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100509073158AAJEoQH/ See FN 1 for Nietzsche and Zarathustra, a fast reference
Or comments: St. John's symbol (Eagle) vs Evil in Eden (Snake);
Or Rome's symbol Aquila, the Eagle, and each military cohort carried an ensign of a serpent (this from the site). So, look again at Varusschlacht, not far, where the tribes beat the Roman Legions, and it was said there that some of the Germanics that Rome trained and outfitted, turned against them and betrayed. Snake.
Norse mythology: The snake that coils itself around Midgard, to hold the world together; when it gapes, things are falling apart. A snake guards Midgard in Norse belief, with heaven above and underworld equivalent beneath. Thor tangles with snakes.
Lost Tribe of Dan - see symbolism of both the eagle and the snake; the snake will bite. These at Town Hall make sense with the Biblical Dan as judgers. Symbolism discussion at http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/il_tribe.html (do a find for Dan, scroll it)
* Early Bremen history, see ://books.google.com/books?id=GN9UQMuNQNkC&pg=PA171&lpg=PA171&dq=Bremen+Cathedral+Celtic+history&source=bl&ots=gUw439wvDl&sig=NbVR8qHwJJvGkc0_2f-NTfqyqn8&hl=en&ei=NgrPTOrANMX6lwfi0qDnCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBgQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Bremen%20Cathedral%20Celtic%20history&f=false/
The German connection with Zarathustra and interpretations of him, in its own history, is a strong one:
Read the German Friedrich Nietzsche's account of a spritual journey in his Thus Spake Zarathustra, at this site: Nietzsche's Zarathustra, at ://faculty.frostburg.edu/phil/forum/Zarathustra.htm/ For disquiet and the overman, see paragraph 3 there. Individual inspiration exists on a plane beyond good, evil. Spend time reading about that. Is that so? The true view of life is not clouded by morality. Rough summaries there. Do nations go through that stage? Must they? How about The Family in our DC -- self-determination, ordinary people quite literally do not matter, the self decides, its highest calling.