Bürgerbrunnen Fountain

Place to see

The Bürgerbrunnen (Citizens' Fountain), a bronze sculpture by the Osnabrück sculptor Hans Gerd Ruwe (1926-1995), has been on display on the Platz des Westfälischen Friedens since 1986. Ruwe designed other fountains and sculptures within the city, such as the "Steckenpferdreiter-Brunnen" at St. Catherine's Church, "die Waschfrau" at Vitihof or "das Tiergericht" at the zoo.
The citizens' fountain was donated by the citizens of Osnabrück in 1980 on the occasion of the 1200th anniversary of the city. The bronze, which is made up of 1200 individual parts, was commissioned from Ruwe. The fountain symbolises the history of Osnabrück by means of various scenic motifs. Even their orientation has a corresponding meaning: all figures leaning towards the town hall represent positive events. Figures pointing in the opposite direction take up negative events in the city's history. The fountain also consists of three bowls. The largest bowl represents the past. Osnabrück's city history flows through it in the form of water. Its size refers to the existing knowledge of the past. The water continues to flow into the middle bowl, which represents the present. It is connected to the past in that present events flow into the past. The smallest bowl symbolises the future. It is under the influence of the present. The mutual connection is seen as a reminder: the past influences the present and the present influences the future.
The fountain was originally intended for the market, which is why some figures, such as Barbarossa and Henry the Lion, are also inclined towards it.

Selection of individual motifs

The Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa (Italian for Red Beard) rises from the top of the fountain. He granted Osnabrück city rights and its own jurisdiction in 1171. The lion in the large bowl stands for the emperor's adversary, the Guelph duke Henry the Lion. The latter provided his own jurisdiction in the area of the cathedral chapter so as not to have to submit to the city.
In 1488, the master tailor Johann Lenethun demanded the abolition of the privileges of the council and the clergy. An uprising followed with looting in the city. On 25 May 1490 Lenethun was seized by Osnabrück soldiers and executed on the same day in the market, thus ending the uprising. This scene forms another motif.
The persecution of witches in the 16th and 17th centuries is symbolised by a woman at the stake, while another image is Death mowing through the crowd with his scythe, making it clear that everyone is equal before him and that he makes no distinction between rich and poor. The "black death", as the plague was also called, struck Osnabrück several times: in 1350, 1575-1577 and 1599. During the last two epidemics alone, over 4000 people died of the plague.
Another motif is the peace rider. It represents the messengers who travelled between Münster and Osnabrück during the negotiations for the Peace of Westphalia, before peace could finally be proclaimed from the Osnabrück town hall steps on 25 October 1648.
As a connecting element, the Osnabrück city river, the Hase, flows over the entire fountain. It protects the city, but also harbours dangers, e.g. the possibility of drowning in its waters.

Address & contact

Bürgerbrunnen Fountain
Krahnstraße 59
49074 Osnabrück

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