Why actually Bremen?
Since June 2003, Bremen has been home to botanika, a public green science center that contains a valuable collection of artifacts from Buddhist culture. The collection includes the only stupa in Germany standing in public space and the largest bronze Nirvana Buddha in Europe.
In front of the botanika, after the consecration of the site, an enlightenment stupa was built, filled and consecrated in a ceremony lasting several hours. Still the only stupa in Germany in public space.
In the botanika, Buddhist events also take place from time to time, as here at the ceremonial dissolution of the sand mandala that Buddhist nuns had scattered.
The botanika also displays some hand-painted Tibetan medicine thangkas. They prove the use of rhododendron in traditional Tibetan medicine.
The botanika is located in the middle of the Rhododendron Park Bremen. Here you will find the largest collection of rhododendron species and varieties in Germany - and the second largest in the world! Of the approximately 1,000 species found in nature, about 650 can be found here, plus a good 3,500 different varieties. The botanika was built to create a beautiful and species-appropriate home for the non-frost-hardy rhododendrons from Asia.
The Rhododendron Park Bremen is also "Garden of Human Rights". It was the idea of Belgian artist Françoise Schein to write the articles of the Human Rights Charter in an artistic way in busy public places around the world. "INSCRIRE - Writing Human Rights," is the name of her international project. And besides Paris, Stockholm, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Ramallah, Brussels, Coventry, Berlin, Haifa and Lisbon, Bremen is also part of it. The only one of these projects where the human rights in a park on the ground accompany people on their way.
In the botanika, especially in the Himalayan greenhouse, there are many Buddhist elements, like this huge Mani stone or typical rock paintings.
A very special treasure in the botanika is the four-meter-long Nirvana Buddha, the largest bronze Nirvana Buddha statue in Europe. It comes from Kathmandu in Nepal, where it was acquired for the botanika after many years of patient negotiation. Now it stands - or rather lies - in a rock cave behind a pond near the waterfall, surrounded by rhododendron arboreum, the national flower of Nepal, which blooms beautifully red in early spring and is called Laliguras there.
In the cave between the Borneo and the Himalayan area stands this huge prayer wheel with 168 million mantras inside. It may be turned - of course only clockwise - after each revolution a bell strikes!
Somewhat hidden - you have to look for it with your eyes - there is a real TsaTsa cave in the rock face near the waterfall, just like in Nepal and Tibet.
While walking through the Himalayan area, one also passes smaller prayer wheels, which are also all filled with mantras and may be rotated.
From the viewing platform high above the Himalayan area you have a nice overview of the diversity of habitats.
A very special kite has been painted by a gifted Thangka painter on the craggy rock face below the waterfall. Its three-dimensionality can not really be shown on this photo, he winds back and forth.
Another treasure is the Mani wall with wonderful Buddha reliefs on slates. Such Mani walls are often found in the Himalayas at the top of passes. Devout hikers place a mani stone here in gratitude for the so far accident-free ascent.
An absolute highlight is of course the Illumination Stupa in front of the botanika, made especially for this place in a monastery in Kathmandu/Nepal in fine stonemasonry and sent in many boxes to Bremen. Then the building site was duly consecrated, the stupa built and filled in the process, and finally consecrated in a ceremony lasting several hours.
On the curbstone surrounding the stupa, one can discover the freedom of religion article of the Human Rights Charter, one of the many elements in the "Garden of Human Rights".