A trip out to the edge! This town is one of the western most points in Germany on the River Ems, which feeds into the North Sea.
There are two information centers in Emden: one at the train station and one in the center of town. Maps are available, including a map of the town’s toilets. Information on the harbor tour and other boat trips can also be collected at these centers. The harbor tours begin on the hour every hour starting at 11:00 a.m.
The art museum, “Kunsthalle Emden” is located close to the train station in the direction of the large white water tower. Follow the signs to the museum. There is a range of artwork inside, including temporary exhibits on the first floor. The permanent collection had a good deal of contemporary European paintings. www.kunsthalle-emden.de
The Bunker museum was exceptional and a must for a visit to Emden. Several large bunkers were constructed in town during WWII. While the town was utterly demolished, only 300 odd civilians died during the air raids, thanks to the bunkers. The museum has many stories, so come prepared to climb some stairs. The trip starts with a movie, available in either English or German. Then move on to the various rooms, which are named and numbered. A translation of the room names is available in the English language pamphlet. The museum provides some unusual memorabilia, including some leaflets thrown by American, British and Russian airplanes. There was also practical information for the people, including posters telling people to shut off their houselights at night, lest they become a target from an airplane up above.
Other interesting rooms focused on Emden and Germany after the war. Articles and posters about how to cope with life during occupation were something I hadn’t seen before. There were also posters from individuals and the Red Cross, looking for people lost in the war, including pictures of children who were looking for parents.
The museum is mostly in German, with a few installations here and there in English or French. The opening hours should also be carefully observed, as there is a mid-day break during the week, and the weekend hours only extend to 1:00 p.m. www.bunkermuseum.de
A Festive Place
The Saturday that I visited Emden had both a flea market and a harbor festival. The town was alive with tons of little things for sale, including northern German food specialities. Bring an appetite for fish. On a regular day, visit the “Fisherman” in Neuer Markt for some traditional fare. If you don’t mind really salty fish, I would recommend the Matjes.
The Town Wall
All around the city is the “Wall Anlage” park, complete with windmills and a moat. It is possible to rent a paddle boat or canoe from the area around the water tower. Otherwise, the park has several different paths, some going close to the water and others up on a hill looking outside the city. There are lots of grassy areas near the water where one can stop and sunbathe on a nice day. They are not exactly secluded, but there weren’t a lot of people there even on a perfect summer day. Walking along the path, one can see a number of interesting structures, including a couple old windmills and another of the town’s bunkers. Visit the Johanna windmill on one of the “Zwinger” – the spiky shaped inlet parts of the moat.
Otto & More
Other attractions include the “Otto Huus”, which celebrates the German comic living legend, Otto and the Ostfriesisches Landesmuseum (the town museum) und Emder Rüstkammer (armory).
How to get there: Take a regional train from Bremen, through Delmenhorst and Oldenburg. This train starts in Hannover or Bremen and travels through to Norddeich. The IC also travels to Emden from Bremen, but doesn’t save any time, and is certainly more expensive. The same is true of the route from Münster from the south.
Great things: Typical northern East Fresian town with a fun atmosphere.
Date of visit: July 9, July 15, 2006
Emden website: www.emden.de
Smalltime tips to H. Gläser, C. Köth