Historical Nuremberg: where the past is all around
From the Nuremberg Castle to the Nazi party rally grounds, Nuremberg’s architecture reflects its eventful history. In many places, the old town is effectively an open-air museum, with a number of important, especially medieval, buildings very well preserved. It even has a multilevel system of tunnels beneath the oldest part of the city that remained a well-kept secret for a very long time. Today, visitors are welcome to explore the tunnels.
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Nuremberg Castle: Medieval center of power. For more than half a century, Nuremberg Castle was one of the most important imperial palaces in the Holy Roman Empire. In the Middle Ages, emperors and kings did not reside in a capital city, but instead traveled their dominions, holding court in castles such as the Imperial Castle of Nuremberg. Building work was begun on it in the first half of the 11th century, and extensive additions were made to it during the reign of Emperor Barbarossa. Today visitors can view the private apartments and state rooms inside the castle. Other highlights are the double chapel and the Sinwell Tower.
Nuremberg Castle: Auf der Burg 13, Tel.: +49-(0)911/24 46 59-0. Open Apr-Sep, daily 9am-6pm, Oct-Mar, daily 10am-4pm, closed on some public holidays. Admission: €7 (reduced €6) for the entire complex, lower prices for single buildings. Guided tours only (approx. 90 mins). A guided tour and admission to the Nuremberg Castle museum are included in the price. www.schloesser.bayern.de/deutsch/schloss/objekte/nbg_burg.htm
Historical Mile/Schöner Brunnen: It wasn’t just the castle that made Nuremberg perhaps the most significant imperial city of the late Middle Ages. It was the seat of the imperial parliament, which assembled there regularly, and commerce, culture and art flourished there, as evidenced by the city’s numerous magnificent examples of medieval architecture. Nuremberg’s old town remained intact right up to the Second World War, when it was almost entirely destroyed. After the war, however, it was sensitively and authentically reconstructed. Since 2000, the Historical Mile route through the city center has guided visitors to the most important structures. The route is clearly signposted, and a companion booklet, which can be downloaded from the Internet in PDF format, describes every point of interest – for example, the 19-meter-high Schöner Brunnen fountain.
Historical Mile: www.historische-meile.nuernberg.de (with PDF companion booklet).
City walls/Craftman’s courtyard: Few Central European cities can boast city walls as well-preserved as those of Nuremberg. By the year 1400, the city’s ramparts extended a full five kilometers and were reputedly unassailable – and no invader ever overcame them. Even now, the largest gap in the wall is no more than 300 meters wide, and the remaining 71 towers along the ramparts today house youth centers, artist’s studios and student accommodation. Right next door to the Frauentor Tower, the Handwerkerhof craftsman's courtyard – a kind of medieval mini-quarter – invites visitors to take a close-up look at the crafts and sample the culinary delights of a bygone age.
Handwerkerhof: Königstor, Tel.: +49-(0)911/98 83 35 90. Open: Mon.-Sat. 9am-10pm. Restaurants 10:30am-10pm, shops 10am-6:30pm (Sat 4pm, except during the Christkindl Market); during the Christkindl market also open on Sundays, closed Dec 31 through the first day of spring. www.handwerkerhof.de
Tunnel system, Albrecht Dürer House and Palace of Justice
Tunnel System: A full map of the complex cellar and tunnel system beneath the oldest part of Nuremberg? There isn’t one! For centuries, the tunnels were kept secret, and then many historical documents were destroyed in the Second World War, too. What we do know for certain is that the cellars were principally used to brew beer. There were about 200 brewers in medieval Nuremberg. They dug their cellars sometimes up to four levels deep in the solid sandstone and extended them over and over again, gradually creating a system of connecting tunnels. During the Second World War, the tunnels were used as air-raid shelters in which many residents survived the Allied forces’ bombs.
Meeting point for guided tours of the tunnels: Hausbrauerei Altstadthof, Bergstraße 19, +49-(0)911/244 98 59. Open: daily tours with various themes – for example, historical rock passages, art underground, red beer, haunted cellars, children’s tour, tour in the dark. Please visit the website for times and dates. Admission: starts at €4.50 (reduced €3.50). http://historische-felsengaenge.de
Albrecht Dürer House: Albrecht Dürer, a native of Nuremberg, was not only one of the most important European artists of the early modern period, but also an influential theorist and mathematician. In 1509, he moved into the today almost 600-year-old half-timbered house in the city center, where he produced many of his works aided by a number of apprentices and journeymen. Visitors can now view living and workshop areas modeled on how the original rooms must have looked, as well as a kitchen that is largely in its original state. The exhibition of graphic works on the top floor includes works by Dürer and other artists.
Albrecht-Dürer-Haus: Albrecht-Dürer-Straße 39, Tel.: +49-(0)911/ 231 25 68. Open: Tue-Fri 10am-5pm, Thu 10am-8pm, Sat +Sun 10am-6pm, Jul-Sep and during the Christkindl Market also Mon, 10am-5pm. Special opening times apply on public holidays. Admission: €5 (reduced €3). www.museen.nuernberg.
Nazi party rally grounds/Palace of Justice: A trip through Nuremberg’s history would not be complete without an excursion into the Third Reich. At their party congresses, the Nazis organized parades of hundreds of thousands of people in a gigantic arena built for the sole purpose of demonstrating their power and unity – and chose Nuremberg as the venue in an attempt to draw a parallel between themselves and the glorious tradition of the Holy Roman Emperors of the Middle Ages. Today, two documentation centers inform visitors about these propaganda events and also about the Nuremberg Trials held in the Palace of Justice after the war, in which prominent members of the Nazi party were tried and sentenced for their war crimes.
Dokumentationszentrum Reichsparteitagsgelände: Bayernstraße 110, Tel.: +49-(0)911/231 75 38. Open: Mon-Fri 9am-6pm, Sat+Sun 10am-6pm. Admission: €5 (reduced €3). www.museen.nuernberg.
de/dokuzentrum. Memorium Nuremberg Trials: Bärenschanzstraße 72, Tel.: +49-(0)911/32 7 93 72. Open: Wed-Mon 10am-6pm. Admission: €5 (reduced €3).
Pictures: Tobias Gerber/laif (2), Congress- und Tourismuszentrale Nürnberg, Museen der Stadt Nürnberg