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45km (28 miles) SW of Hannover, 48km (30 miles) W of Hildesheim

Hameln has many interesting buildings and a history dating from the 11th century, but its main claim to fame is the Pied Piper folk tale, immortalized by the Brothers Grimm, Goethe, and Robert Browning, among others. According to legend, in 1284 the town was infested by rats. Soon after, a piper appeared and offered, for a fee, to lure the vermin into the Weser River. The rat catcher successfully performed the service, but the stingy denizens of Hameln refused to pay, claiming that he was a sorcerer. So the piper reappeared the next Sunday and played a tune that lured the town's children, except one lame boy, into a mysterious door in a hill. The children and the Pied Piper were never heard from again.

There is some historical basis for the story. It appears that, several centuries ago, for some unknown reason, the children of Hameln did indeed leave the town. The story of the Pied Piper is retold every summer Sunday at noon in a special performance at the Hochzeitshaus (Wedding House) on Osterstrasse. In the town shops, you can buy rat figures made of almost every conceivable material, including candy.

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