Glockenspiel of Hameln – Hamelin, Germany - Atlas Obscura
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Hamelin, Germany

Glockenspiel of Hameln

The real life town from the Pied Piper of Hamelin has a mechanical puppet show that retells the famous story many times a day.  

Sometimes, when your town gets a reputation for something you just have to embrace it. Such is the way with the German town of Hameln which most know from the children’s tale, The Pied Piper of Hamelin. This famous story plays out each day thanks to a clock on the side of one of the town’s historic buildings.   

Although there is no clock face connected to the public display sometimes called the Glockenspiel of Hameln, it acts much like a traditional cuckoo clock. Multiple times each day the small doors built into the side of Hameln’s Hochzeitshaus (Wedding House) open up and a clockwork procession issues forth. First the jolly version of the piper comes out trailing a pack of rats that he has entranced with his song. However, once that version of the piper has passed, the more sinister version comes out, leading away the town’s children, save for two who move in reverse: a small blind child pulling back his injured companion.

The Hochzeitshaus building itself dates back to the 17th century and is one of the last stone buildings of its kind in the town. Once a central location in the town, providing a ballroom, a pharmacy, and more, it is now known more for its stunning architecture. The Pied Piper Glockenspiel was not added to the building until 1964, when the buildings bells were being renovated.

Even though the tale of the Pied Piper of Hamelin is relatively sinister, what with the mass kidnapping and all, sometimes the die is cast and you can’t fight the association. So it’s respectable that Hameln has done so with such an entertaining little diversion.