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For other uses, see Hamelin (disambiguation).
Panorama of Hamelin
Panorama of Hamelin
Coat of arms of Hamelin
Coat of arms
Hamelin   is located in Germany
Coordinates: 52°6′N 9°22′E / 52.100°N 9.367°E / 52.100; 9.367Coordinates: 52°6′N 9°22′E / 52.100°N 9.367°E / 52.100; 9.367
Country Germany
State Lower Saxony
District Hamelin-Pyrmont
 • Lord Mayor Claudio Griese (CDU)
 • Total 102.30 km2 (39.50 sq mi)
Population (2013-12-31)[1]
 • Total 56,260
 • Density 550/km2 (1,400/sq mi)
Time zone CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)
Postal codes 31785–89, 3250
Dialling codes 05151
Vehicle registration HM
Website www.hameln.de

Hamelin (/ˈhæməlɨn/ or /ˈhæmlɨn/; German: Hameln) is a town on the river Weser in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is the capital of the district of Hamelin-Pyrmont and has a population of 58,696 (as at 2006).

Hamelin is also the gateway to the surrounding Weserbergland mountains, which are popular with hikers and bikers.


The town is famous for the folk tale of the Pied Piper of Hamelin (German: Der Rattenfänger von Hameln), a medieval story that tells of a tragedy that befell the town in the thirteenth century. The version written by the Brothers Grimm made it popular throughout the world; it is also the subject of well-known poems by Goethe and Robert Browning. Although Hamelin has a fine medieval old town with some remarkable buildings, the main attraction is the tale of the Pied Piper. In the summer every Sunday, the tale is performed by actors in the town centre.

The Pied Piper leads the children out of Hamelin. Illustration by Kate Greenaway.

Hamelin started with a monastery, which was founded as early as 851 AD. A village grew in the neighbourhood and had become a town by the 12th century. The incident with the Pied Piper is said to have happened in 1284 and may be based on a true event, although somewhat different from the tale. In the 15th and 16th centuries Hamelin was a minor member of the Hanseatic League.

In June 1634, during the Thirty Years' War, Lothar Dietrich Freiherr von Bönninghausen, a General with the Imperial Army, lost the Battle of Oldendorf to Swedish General von Kniphausen, in the process of which Hamelin was besieged by the Swedish army.

The era of greatest prosperity began in 1664, when Hamelin became a fortified border town of the Duchy of Brunswick-Calenberg.

Hamelin was surrounded by four fortresses, which gave it the nickname "Gibraltar of the North". It was the most heavily fortified town in the Kingdom of Hanover. The first fort (Fort George) was built from 1760–1763, the second (Fort Wilhelm) and third were built 1774 and 1784, the last fort (called Fort Luise) was built 1806.

In 1808 Hamelin surrendered without fighting to Napoleon, after the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt was lost. All of the historic walls and guard towers were pulled down by Napoleon's forces. In 1843 the people of Hamelin built a sightseeing tower out of the ruins of Fort George on the Klüt Hill. The sightseeing tower is called the "Klütturm" and is a popular spot for tourists with an amazing view over the historic town.

Hamelin became part of Prussia in 1867.

During the Second World War, Hamelin prison (de) was used for the detention of Social Democrats, Communists and other political prisoners. Around 200 died here; more died afterwards, when the Nazis sent the prisoners on death marches in April 1945 fearing the Allied advance. Just after the war, Hamelin prison was used by British Occupation Forces for the detention of German war criminals. Around 200 of them were hanged there including Irma Grese, Josef Kramer and over a dozen of the perpetrators of the Stalag Luft III murders. It has since been turned into a hotel.


Watershed of the river Weser.
  • Afferde
  • Hastenbeck
  • Halvestorf
  • Haverbeck
  • Hilligsfeld (including Groß and Klein Hilligsfeld)
  • Sünteltal (including Holtensen, Welliehausen and Unsen)
  • Klein Berkel
  • Tündern (pop. around 2,700),[2]
  • Wehrbergen
  • Rohrsen
  • Welliehausen

Historical population[edit]

Year Inhabitants
1689 2,398
1825 5,326
1905 21,385
1939 32,000
1968 48,787
2005 58,872

Twin towns — Sister cities[edit]

Hamelin is twinned with:

Famous citizens[edit]

British army presence[edit]

Hamelin is home to 28 Engineer Regiment until summer, 2014.[4]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]