Through the Old Town a chain of white rat-shaped silhouettes on the pavement indicate the "Rattenfänger Weg", a self-guided hike leading to a dozen or more waypoints in the city where explanations are given about the Legend of the Pied Piper and how certain houses and places are connected to it. Very worthwhile.
This historic house in the Weser renaissance style has an inscription that contains the oldest historic evidence of the piper legend. It says that in 1284, children were abducted by a flute player ("dorch einen piper"). There are many possible explanations for this legend (a childrens crusade, a plague epidemy ..) but still no certainty on the reason for these mysterious disappearences. Today, an excellent (if pricey) restaurant resides in the building.
In Hameln you can find several monuments of the "pied piper" (a.k.a. "Rattenfänger" in German). The piper is a figure from traditional folk lore: It is said that after liberating Hameln from a rat plague, the city elders denied the piper the promised reward. Later, the piper used his suggestive music to abduct the city youth, never to be seen again. One monument is in the Old Town, near the Post Office, another rather modern one in front of the new City Hall.
The wonderful people of Hameln are very tourist savvy and have designated a trail around the town taking in all the main buildings and sites of interest. The trail is marked by painted white rats on the roads so is easy to follow even without a map.
At most places of interest, there are placards such as the one pictured which detail the history of the buildings and other information.
There is a nice path that takes you along the river and through a park. You can cross the bridge to follow another walking path along the river. Note the Rat over the bridge. The Pied Piper tale tells the story of the piper who was cheated by the towns people. He was hired to rid the city of rats by playing his instrument which put the rats in a trance. The piper then led them to water where they drowned. He returned to the city for payment but they refused to pay him. Later on in the night he returned and put all the children in a trance with his music and then led them into the hills where they were never seen again.
The play has kids dressed like rats with the piper playing the tunes. Get there at least a 40 min early to get a seat. (Sunday at 12:00).
After the performance the Glocken Spiel and the Clockwork figures perform. The bells on the building play music while the figures perform part of the play. Starts at 1:05, 3:35,5:35. If you want to find the square where the performances are follow the white rats/mice painted on the streets...
Although the facade dates from 1602, the building known colloquially as the Pied Piper’s House is actually much older. The Pied Piper’s House carries the name not because the Piper lived here, but because of an inscription on the side. Here are many works of art at the Pied Piper’s House. They are the private collection of the Fricke family and are secretly known as the “after hours” museum in Hameln. Woodcarvings, pictures, maps, large canvasses in oil, and much more can be seen in the rooms of the restaurant. There are even souvenirs to purchase.
The Pied Piper’s House Restaurant offers food and atmosphere in the sign of the legend since 1966.
We go there every year to have “Glühwein”! Try it and let yourself be enchanted by the bright lights of Hameln’s Christmas market during Advent! Set in the middle of the delightful old town with its lovingly restored half-timbered houses and unique buildings in the Weser Renaissance style, this market is one of the most atmospheric in North Germany. 70 festively decorated little wooden houses invite visitors to take a stroll around the Hochzeitshaus and the Market Church. The biggest attraction is the “Christmas Pyramid” with 11 metres in height.
The Piper has been running with the rats and children three times (1.05 pm., 3.35 pm. and 5.35 pm) a day since the 2nd of October, 1964. The figures were carved by Walter Volland of Goslar, designed by Prof. Harry Siegel of Braunschweig.
The Pied Piper Open-Air Play has been a quaint homage to the international cultural notoriety of Hameln since 1956. The play enters its 50th season under the direction of Friedrich Fluegge Sen. in 2005. He is seen nearly every week on the stage as the “thrifty” mayor who denies the Piper his fee. Sunday for Sunday from the 8th of May until the 11th of September, the legend stages in the centre of the old-town at 12 noon. Some 80 amateur actors in historical costume show the crowd of circa 3000 visitors from all over the world just how the loss of the Hameln children came to pass. The play runs some 30 minutes and admittance for young and old is free.
The new presentation is in the various lively styles of: Waltz, March, Ballads, and even Rap. The story follows the traditional legend. The Piper leads the rats to the Weser River. However, the Rat-King forms an allegiance with the town council, and survives.
Every Wednesday from 4th May to 14th September 2005
at 4:30pm, on the Hochzeitshaus-Terrace
in the centre of the town.
The musical takes some 40 minutes.
Bürgerhus in the Kupferschmiedestraße: built in 1560, renewed in 1981. When admiring these restored stone- and wooden-framed houses built in the Weser Renaissance and other styles, it will be hard to realize that this splendour is the result of 25 years of reconstruction.
It was the year 1284 when a strange and wondrous figure arrived in Hameln. He was attired in a coat of many colours and was taken to be a rat catcher, as he promised to free the town of a plague of rats and mice for a fixed sum of money.
The citizens pledged to pay him his fee, so the visitor produced a pipe and began to play. Soon all the rats and mice came running out of the houses and gathered around the Pied Piper in a teeming mass. Once convinced that each and every one followed, he went out of the town straight into the River Weser where the vermin plunged after him and drowned.
The townspeople, however, now freed of the plague, regretted their promise and refused to pay the Piper, who left Hameln in a bitter mood.
On the 26th of June in that year he returned, this time dressed as a huntsman, wearing a grim countenance and a wondrous red hat. While the townsfolk were assembled in the church, he again sounded his pipe in the streets.
But it was not rats and mice who came out this time, but children! A great many boys and girls older than four came running and were led through the Ostertor gate into the very heart of a hill where they all disappeared. Only two children returned because they could not keep up: one was blind and could not show where the others had gone, the other dumb and not able to tell the secret. A last little boy had come back to fetch his coat and so escaped the calamity. Some tell that the children were led into a great cavern and reappeared in Transylvania. A total of 130 children were lost. (From the Brothers Grimm in the book "German Legends")
Based on the baseplates of two older churches this church has been constructed in early gothic style around 1220-1230.
At the end of the WWII the church was hardly destroyed. A new more simple church hall has been inaugurated in the year 1959.
This is a very nice little museum that describes in texts, photos and exhibits. There is a part about the Pied Piper of course with a lot of theories about his story, then a lot about Hamelin town history, besides an exhibition about an important battle in the 19th century.
A couple of times a day the "Carrillion" starts his Ratcatchers Theme... the Ratcatcher is the one who made Hameln famous with his Folkloristic Tale. When the Bells ring there song the copper doors in the building open ....and you can see a play with the 3 most famous characters of Hameln! Its a real touristic event. When the song is over ...the doors are closed.