A Brief History of Bremen
Bremen entered written history in 787 when Charlemagne elevated the town to a bishopric. It became an archbishopric in 847 and experienced a golden age in the 11th century. It joined the Hanseatic League in 1358 and in 1646 became a Free Imperial City. Despite major damage during World War II, parts of Bremen’s old town survived or were restored to their former condition. Bremen managed to remain a separate state when the Federal Republic of Germany was founded in 1949 and is, together with Bavaria, the oldest continuous political entity in the German-speaking world.
The harbor with its related trade and fisheries has been the lifeline for Bremen for most of its existence. Currently, it is the second-largest in Germany and mainly used for the importation of raw materials. More glamorously, it is also the main conduit of German-built cars to intercontinental destinations – 700,000 cars pass through the harbor annually. Half of all coffee consumed in Germany is imported through Bremen – coffee shops were fashionable here in the late 17th century, long before they were opened in Leipzig or Vienna. Decaffeinated coffee was first made here by Ludwig Roselius, who subsequently used his wealth to promote art projects in Bremen; some are still major attractions.
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