Like Bremen with its town musicians, HAMELN must say a daily prayer in praise of fairytales. The rat-turned-child-catcher not only gave the small town international fame but a ready-made promotional angle. A Piper fountain gushes rodents and the tale is re-enacted weekly in summer. Even the Marktkirche has a Pied Piper window. Whatever the yarn would have you believe, the town has more than its fair share of children, too, because the ploy works. Such is its popularity – the town receives over 3.5 million tourists per year – that Hameln isn’t always the “pleasanter spot you never spied” as American Robert Browning describes in his poem of the tale. It is a good-humoured place, however, with few pretentions to greatness other than its historic Altstadt. It also serves as gateway to the lovely hill-and-river country of the Weserbergland south.

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