Bremen rightfully claims to be one of the oldest city republics of the world. This is because Bremen has been a trading place ever since it was founded around the year 800. In order to be successful, merchants and traders have to be open-minded and tolerant. As Bremen, during the Middle Ages, developed into one of the most important and wealthy commercial towns in northern Europe, being a member of the Hanseatic League, tolerance and open-mindedness towards the unknown, in other words a cosmopolitan outlook, became a characteristic feature of this town and its citizens. Also, due to the ongoing economic success and resiliency of its merchant citizens, there developed a form of government which never knew the rule of an aristocracy but was founded on merits and achievements of its leading citizens: The citizens of Bremen handled their affairs by themselves and among their peers. This is also why Bremen drew on the tradition of the ancient Roman city republic as it developed its own early forms of a constitutional government. That this orientation still was valid and observed in the early 20th century is witnessed by the inscription over the entrance of New Town Hall: "SPQB, meaning "Senatus Populusque Bremensis in adaption of the traditional inscription of ancient Rome: "SPQR, Senatus Populusque Romanus. Sustained economic success over centuries, a tradition of self-sufficiency in handling their affairs by themselves combined with a political tradition drawing on the achievements of the Roman Republic formed what came to be labelled as a certain "civic self-confidence" of the citizens of Bremen. It influences their outlook and identity to this day.
The Town Hall and the Roland on the market place in Bremen have been UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 2004. The ensemble is a "unique testimony" to the development of civic autonomy and market rights as they have evolved over the centuries in Europe. weiter