Nuremburg, Germany

Posted on June 26, 2010


Nuremburg is the sort of city that you envision when you think of Germany. A large castle, narrow streets lined with half-timbered houses, street cafes bustling with people laughing and drinking beer. I had dinner in a busy outdoor beer garden which was a fine way to kill a couple hours. The city is in the Franconian region, known for hearty food such as grilled finger-sized sausages, sauerkraut, and brown bread. You order the sausages by just saying a number so they know how many to bring. The pretzels freely available here are excellent and rival the Philadelphia street corner specials. The most significant and historical buildings are clustered in the circular Altstadt. Many of the streets are pedestrian only and there is an excellent regional subway system. The city can be explored in one day and it is possible to see most of the key sites on a two mile loop through the altstadt.

Nuremburg currently has about a half million residents. The city is about one thousand years old, having become a Free Imperial City in the 1300’s. From 1356 onward, each new emperor had to convene his first meeting with the princes of the empire in Nuremburg. This was called a Reichstag. The important, powerful history of the city as well as its classic German architecture led the National Socialist Party which brought Hitler to power to make this its rally site and headquarters six hundred years later. Much of the city was destroyed by Allied bombing during WW2, but the city reconstructed or restored many of the most important buildings.

Stadtbefestigung – The city is surrounded by a 5km network of walls and towers. There are four main gates that are massive and require a walk past a variety of defensive fortifications (arrow slits, openings above to drop hot oil).
Mauthalle – Once one of the twelve civic storehouses to protect the population in times of crisis, this building consists of three stories plus another five stories under a steeply pitched roof. Built in 1498, the building now houses a variety of stores and the Barfusser restaurant in the basement.
St. Lorenz Kirche – Constructed from 1270 to 1470, this gothic church is the largest in the city. Flanked by twin towers, this church is visible over much of the city.
Heilig Geist Spital – Established in 1339, this hospital complex was the largest ever gift from an individual in the Holy Roman Empire at the time. Extended out over the river when they ran out of space, this building is still beautiful and is only a small part of a much larger complex that no longer exists.

Hauptmarkt – The main market square is large, surrounded by cafes, and has been used as a market area in the city since 1349. During the summer there are still stalls set up selling fresh flowers and fruit. In one corner stands the Frauenkirche, the oldest church in this part of Germany and in constant use since 1358. The church is beautiful, covered with statues and featuring a large ornamental clock. In the other corner is the Schoner Brunnen, the Beautiful Fountain. Built in 1396 to resemble a gothic spire, it includes 40 statues that reflect the world view of the Holy Roman Empire.
Kaiserburg – Looming on a hilltop on the northern edge of the city is the thousand year old city castle. Home to Holy Roman Emporers for over five hundred years, the castle complex grew and expanded to include countless towers, a very deep moat, and all manner of defensive structures. The walls were at least 25 feet thick.

Handwerkerhauschen – Surviving examples of the tiny houses that the workers in the city used to squeeze into.

Pilatushaus & Tiergartnertow – The square between the half timbered House of Pilate and the tall square defensive tower is full of cafes and was bustling when I went past. I stopped in a small place to try a Rauchbier, translated “smoke beer”. This beer is made with smoked barley and has a distinct mesquite flavor. I have always wanted to try this type of beer but it is only available in a few places the world over.

Albrecht-Durer-Haus – Built in 1420, this was the home to renaissance painter Albrecht Durer in the early 1500’s. It is the typical Nuremburg style, constructed from sandstone on the first floor and half-timber above.

Weinstadel – Originally erected to house lepers, this building is another fine example of what makes Nuremburg special. It is reached via a wooden bridge near where the city executioner lived in seclusion since his job was considered dishonorable. People avoided contact with him out of fear of contamination.
Posted in: Germany, Travel