Local tradition dictates that no building in Bremen can rise higher than the city’s august cathedral. The city has turned a blind eye to this rule in a few cases, but in one form or another, the church has been a commanding presence on high ground in the Altstadt since 782, when a timber structure was erected. Since then, the church has been built and rebuilt, with craftsmen and architects adding ceiling ribbing, flying buttresses, even some Moorish-looking window frames and column or two. The church also has a long record of misfortune, and 1638 was an especially bad year for the towers—one collapsed entirely, killing eight worshippers, and another was struck by lightning, burned, and crashed into the nave. During all the construction and reconstruction, lead from the roof was stored in a cellar that became known as a Bleikeller, or lead basement. It was discovered that bodies left in the chamber remained remarkably well preserved, creating a mummy room where an English countess, two Swedish soldiers, and a murdered student are among the church’s most popular attractions. As you enter or leave the church you may see young men, often well dressed, sweeping the steps. It’s a tradition that any man who reaches his 30th birthday and is still unmarried come to St. Petri to perform this clean-up duty. He must keep at it until a young woman relieves him of the task with a kiss.