In Germany, there is a REAL town of Hameln, the setting of the fairy-tale, the Pied Piper, which just so happens to be one of my most memorable fairy tales as a child. I was always an avid reader as a child and I truly loved that tale.
As the story goes, in 1284, the town of Hameln was overrun with rats, so as a solution, they hired a rat-catcher to lure the rats away from the village. This man wore colorful “pied” clothing and walked through the village, playing his flute, luring the rats away with his song. He was successful, but the mayor refused to pay him for his services, cheating him out of the promised reward. A year later, the pied piper returned while the adults were in church and in revenge, played his magic flute and lured the children of the village away, never to be seen again.
In one version of the tale, it is said that the children were lured into a mountain cave. Another version has a different ending: the children were led to a river, where they drowned.
Dark, right? Despite that, I always wondered what it would be like to be in a real fairy-tale town and as an adult, my dream came true.
I visited the town of Hameln, in Germany!
As I walked through the streets of the town; my eyes wide like an excited child’s, as I took everything in, I was in awe of the dreamy feeling the town manifested.
From the cobblestone streets, the buildings …everything looked as if I were staring at a storybook page … except I was there…in real life and I imagined what it was like back in that time of the fairy-tale, and I started thinking about the different people who like me had walked up and down these narrow streets, centuries before.
Many other tourists and locals walked past me on the streets, taking photos and looking at the famous architecture. The houses were still in pristine condition and I wondered what the interior looked like, whether they were even more beautiful on the inside and when were they all built.
In a prominent position in the town square, a statue caught my attention, and lo and behold!
It was him, the Pied Piper!
I tried to hold in my excitement as I examined the statue that stood proudly on a fountain, but like the true tourist I was, I could not help but to take as many photos as possible, needing to document this amazing discovery.
Near to the statue, is a famous church in the town square with an inscription on the stained glass window which states:
“In the year 1284 after the birth of Christ
From Hameln were led away
One hundred thirty children, born at this place
Led away by a piper into a mountain.”
The inscription was made to remember the terrible tragedy, I realised and as I continued my exploration, I found that near the statue, was the Pied Piper House, which also bore an inscription about the incident. For me, it was blatant proof that this “fairy-tale” was actually real!
Something that I had believed was the imaginings of a wonderful writer may indeed be based on a real life story, which only made me love the town even more.
Hameln became famous centuries ago due to the fairy-tale and today there are museums, cafes and souvenir shops in the town square, which boost tourism even more. Every day, the locals put on an open-air play depicting the Pied Piper tale with colorful costumes and it is a one of a kind, amazing experience.
Another attraction is the “glockenspiel” which is a large clock at the top of the church that plays a mechanical ballet, three times a day. The bronze doors of the clock open and show figurines of the Piper, rats and children while the chimes play the Pied Piper song.
I highly recommend visiting Hameln for a truly unforgettable historic experience. Every step I took through the Altstadt (Old town) was a step back in time, into the storybook that forever exists in my mind.
It was more amazing and picturesque than I ever believed it could be. Now I want to explore other fairy-tale towns and walk through old castles and feed my inner child some magical adventures!