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Hameln (hämˈəln) [key], Eng. Hamelin, city (1994 pop. 59,210), Lower Saxony, N central Germany, a port on the Weser River. It is an industrial center and rail junction. Its manufactures include carpets, chemicals, machinery, and food products. The city is also a tourist center, known as the scene of the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Frescoes illustrating the tale adorn the so-called Ratcatcher's House (built 1602–3).

An ancient Saxon settlement, Hameln became a missionary outpost c.750, received city rights c.1200, and, while frequently changing hands, acquired considerable independence. It was a member of the Hanseatic League from 1426 to 1572. The city passed to Hanover in 1814 and to Prussia in 1866. It has retained many historic buildings, including an early Gothic church (14th cent.), the Rattenkrug (built 1568), and the Wedding House (1610–17; now the city hall).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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