The Osnabrück Market Square, Osnabrücker Markt, (also known colloquially as the Marktplatz) in the old town (Altstadt) is considered one of the founding sites of the city, along with the Domburg, the cathedral site. Archaeological excavations revealed that a market settlement existed to the west of the cathedral as early as the 9th century. The market forms a central point of the old town as a link between the Heger Tor Gate quarter in the west and the cathedral grounds in the east and is also known as the "good parlour of the town".
The market is characterised by the architectural ensemble of the Town Hall, the City Weighing House, St. Mary's Church, town houses and the market fountain. A classic weekly market is no longer held on the square, but numerous events take place here. For example, the Market Square regularly provides space for the Osnabrück Christmas Market, the May Week and the gathering of children at the end of the hobbyhorse parade. In the past, the promotion celebrations of the football club VfL Osnabrück, the festival "Osnabrück isst gut" (Osnabrück eats well) as well as other events and festivals have taken place here. Demonstrations also take place on the square, which is steeped in history for urban democracy.
Architectural history of the market
Originally, the area of today's Market Square was densely built-up. It only acquired its present dimensions when the acquisition and demolition of houses there began in 1477. The old town hall on the site of today's city library was a small building that did not meet the city's requirements, so the council decided to build a representative new town hall on its present site. For this, many buildings, an entire alley and also the former cemetery of St. Mary's Church had to give way. This was moved to the north side of the church and existed there until the French occupying forces under Napoleon banned inner-city burial at the beginning of the 19th century because of the danger of epidemics. Construction of the town hall began in 1487, lasted until 1512 and cost the equivalent of about 23 million euros.
The 13th-century market fountain, presumably filled in in the 17th century, was rediscovered in 1984 during canal work. Originally, the Bürgerbrunnen Fountain was to be built on this site in the mid-1980s, but this was not possible for reasons of monument protection. This therefore now forms the centrepiece of the neighbouring Westphalian Peace Square. Today, an octagonal wheel with viewing windows forms the cover of the old fountain. The former council fountain in front of the Town Hall staircase has been made recognisable in the pavement by a bronze wheel.
The colourful stepped gable houses
The colourful, late Gothic stepped gable houses of wealthy Osnabrück families still characterise the image of the Market Square today. Especially in the 16th century, the stepped gable style, originally from Flanders (now Belgium), spread in northern Germany as a stepped form of gable decoration. These were show gables; the stone façades were intended to represent bourgeois splendour and power. Behind them were the actual residential buildings in the form of half-timbered houses. There was no need to decorate the courtyard side, as this was not visible to the general public. When the gables were erected in the frame, the existing half-timbered houses were "cut off" by four metres, as they protruded too far into the new Market Square. The open fronts were closed with the new façades.
Over the centuries, the houses themselves were altered and renewed many times, while the gable façade remained. The bombing raids on Osnabrück in the Second World War destroyed the town houses, but the gables remained, except for the former Ameldungsche Apotheke pharmacy (now the Erich Maria Remarque Peace Centre). In the post-war period, the houses on the south side of the Market were reconstructed as late Gothic gabled houses of the 16th century.
The Ameldung Pharmacy
The "Erich Maria Remarque Peace Centre" has been located at Markt 6 on the Market Square since 1996. Here, for example, the famous author's desk, photos and manuscripts are exhibited in a permanent exhibition. These are supplemented by themed temporary exhibitions. Remarque's most famous work is his novel "All Quiet on the Western Front".
The building as it appears today refers in its architecture to Osnabrück classicism at the end of the 18th century. But already at the turn of the 17th century, Osnabrück's second pharmacy, the "Löwenapotheke", was built on this site, probably as a consequence of the experiences of the preceding plague periods. It became known under the name of its owners, the Ameldung family of pharmacists. As pharmacists, alongside doctors and preachers, these studied people belonged to the intellectual ruling class of the city. In the Middle Ages, pharmacists often assumed medical functions as well. In addition to medicines, the pharmacies of the time also sold cosmetic goods, gourmet food and brandy. At the time of the Peace Congress, not only did envoys spend the night in the Ameldung Pharmacy, it also served as their unofficial and innocuous meeting place and social venue. The family record book of the journeyman pharmacist Johann Friedrich Etschenreuther still provides information about the illustrious visitors during the peace negotiations. The building was badly damaged in 1944 during the Second World War, but was rebuilt in 1958.
Today, the pharmacy is known for Anna Ameldung, the wife of the councillor and pharmacist Heinrich Ameldung. She died by beheading in 1636 as the last victim of the Osnabrück witch hunt. In the Schölerberg district, the street Ameldungstraße has been named after this old Osnabrück family since 1925. The last male representative was the pharmacist and council senior Heinrich Christoph Ameldung, who died in 1803.
The Square of the Peace of Westphalia
In the immediate vicinity of the market, shady seats in the Westphalian Peace Square invite you to take a closer look at the civic fountain. It illustrates the most important events in the city's history.