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Nurnberg’s Golden Treasures

Nuremberg has had a very mixed and not always quite so positive history. It found fame as the treasure trove of Germany, but became infamous as the home of the Reichsparteitag, the centre of government in the Nazi regime. Nuremberg’s darkest hour came on 2nd January 1945 as it was razed to the ground in a bombing raid. Over 90% of the Franconian capital was destroyed. It is a town with a well documented past which it deals with very openly. The museums of Nuremberg offer a captivating and terrible insight into the time of the Nazi regime, for instance the exhibition next to the old Reichsparteitaggelände (the huge show arena where the regime celebrated its political and military might) ‘Faszination und Gewalt’ (Fascination and Violence’). (

A tour of the town raises may different emotions. How magnificent this town must have been before its destruction. The reconstructed town structures and buildings (by Heinz Schmeisser) suggest just how incredible this place must have been before the war. The Pegnitz is perhaps not as great as the Moldova- and the Kaiserburg not to be compared with the Hradschin- but there are many parallels between the two cities that would have been so much more apparent had Nuremberg been spared destruction in WWII.
Wine house.

Nuremberg’s boom over the last 1000 years was of course closely linked to Prague’s success, and that of the German/Czech Wenceslas as he was crowned Kaiser Charles IV. He supported and subsidised his two favourite towns, opened the first central European University in Prague, and laid down in the Golden Bull (a kind of constitution) that every newly elected leader must spend his first day in office in Nuremberg.

Surely the best monument to these laws of the Holy German Empire is the ‘Männleinlauf’ on the Frauenkirche. Above the entrance to the main hall of the church there is a frieze depicting the 7 Crown Princes idolising the seated Kaiser with a scepter. The story behind this magnificent court chapel…
Franconian Specialties:
Bratwurst Herzle: the oldest Nuremberger sausage house has been frying sausages since 1526 in this beautiful wattle and daub house. Brunnengasse 11.
Holy Ghost Infirmary: traditional dining over the Pegnitz. Large wine list. Spitalgasse 16 tel. +49 (0)911 22 17 61.
Treppenhaus Lounge: a kind of open living room with 60’s décor and friendly prices. Kornmarkt 6.
Essigbrätlein: two 2 star chefs prepare exquisite local delicacies from Franconia. Weinmarkt 3, tel. +49 (0)911 22 51 31.

… and its position is slightly less glorious. It was built in place of a synagogue that was burnt down in 1349 during a pogrom in which 560 Jews were killed. Famously Charles IV had announced before the attack that those taking part would be free from punishment.

That all that is gold does not glitter is rather fitting as far as the Schöner Brunnen am Hauptmarkt is concerned. The fountain by (Heinrich Beheim) in the main square is smaller than it used to be. The original gothic tower stood at 19 metres, was built between 1385 and 1396 and can now be found in the German National Museum (Kartäusergasse 1, The prettily painted ‘fake’ is made of plaster and survived the war encased in concrete.

The renaissance town hall by Jakob Wolff the Younger has been mostly rebuilt. ‘Die Lochgefängnisse’ (little more than holes in the ground into which prisoners were thrown) in the cellars are a tourist attraction in their own right and also the scene of local author Jan Beinssen’s book ‘The Master Thieves of Nuremberg’.

On the way to the castle on the hill one cannot help but notice the Lutheran-Evangelical church. The oldest in Nuremberg it is really a feast for the eyes. Its three naves and the west wing were built between 1225 and 1274 when it was consecrated. The gallery around the main body of the church was built around 1379 and is based on the techniques and works introduced by Peter Parler, a leading stonemason of the time and builder of the Charles Bridge in Prague. The church was almost completely destroyed in WWII, rebuilt and re-consecrated in 1957.
The castle

The grave of the Patron Saint of the town Sebald in the form of a gothic baldachin (Peter Fischer the Elder and the Younger were responsible for this piece) is worth viewing, as is the Bishop of Bamberg’s window by Albrecht Dürer and The Crucifixion by Veit Stoß. Diagonally opposite is the delicate ‘Chörlein’ am Pfarrhof (little choir) built from 1361-1379. The original piece is again in the German National Museum in Nuremberg.

On the way to the castle you will pass the Burg bakery (Bergstraße 21) and the Lebkuchen bakery run by the Düll family in an old bakery from 13th Century.

A Lebkuchen made to a secret family recipe will keep you going as you pause by the bronze statue of the rabbit (by Jürgen Goertz 1984). The work is a study of a rabbit in the style of Dürer who drew and painted studies of many animals. This cynical work in his honour depicts the misery of a rabbit’s existence.

The statue of Saint George in full armour in a niche of the Pilatus House (built in 1338) is in fact a monument to Hans Grünewald who lived in the house in the 15th Century. Today there are often modern art exhibitions held here. It is also worth taking a little detour up the ‘Ölberg’ (Oil Hill) to the castle, to take a look at the oldest examples of wattle and daub houses in Nuremberg: small craftsmen’s houses often consisting of no more than two rooms, and then we go on to one of the most important centres of government of the Middle Ages. Between 1050 and 1571 all rulers of the Holy Empire of Germany were crowned here and held court.

The large main keep from the 11th Century was extended by Kaiser Barbarossa I and his successors continuously, up to the 16th Century addition of the cornered towers, which were more effective protection against the new firearms and cannons. The gardens added by Kaiser Friedrich III were apparently based on the hanging gardens of Babylon.

The ‘Burggrafentor’ (The Dukes Gate) separates the residential part of the castle from the administrative section. Perhaps the most important part of the building.

The 12th Century double chapel has two parts; the lower nave for the nobles and the upper part for the Kaiser in the west gallery.

The representative centre of the castle is the ‘Palast’ with the Knights Hall and the Kaiser’s Hall containing portraits and frescos dating back to the 15th Century. Next to these grand halls there is the so-called ‘Kemenate’, a smaller room heated by a stove, which was originally provided for the accompanying ladies and the courts-in-waiting. The famous Kunigundenlinde in the courtyard is a decidedly less magnificent. This little tree is certainly not the example planted in honour of the Empress Kunigunde around the year 1000 AD.

The trail leads back to the Tiergärtner Tor in the direction of the Albrecht Dürer House in the street of the same name. Nuremberg’s most famous son lived in this typical residential house from 1509 until his death in 1528. The building houses none of the master’s original works.
Must see- The Dürer House, Albrecht Dürer Straße 39.
Night Life, or Afterlife?
Burgtheater: this theatre hosts the annual German Cabaret Prize, when the stars come out!
Staatstheater: 500 members of staff and performers fill this house with the sounds and sights of ballet, opera and theater.
Kon Tiki: Polynesian polish with seafood and cocktails. Untere Wörthstraße 10-14.
Der Hirsch (The Stag): Clubbing, concerts and wild parties. Vogelweiherstraße 66.

In the Burgstraße 15 stands the Fembohaus. Nurembergs largest remaining one-time residential building built from 1591-1596 by Jakob Wolff Senior now houses the town museum.

In the Weißgerbergasse many buildings were spared the allied bombs, especially noticeable from number 17 to 33, many of which have been turned into bars and cafes. A most curious and colourful example stands at number 8, decorated by Walter Wellhöfer with ceramic reliefs depicting the work of different craftsmen.

The Maxplatz, (Max Square) is dominated by one of the most wonderful old buildings of the 15th Century. The ‘Weinstadel’ is now very popular student accommodation with a view of the Max Bridge, which replaced Nuremberg’s oldest stone bridge in 1852.

Sleeping in Nuremberg:
Hotel Drei Raben: Themed hotel with wonderful details. Couples might want to try the rose bath and there are conference suites and a very cool lounge. From €120. Königstraße 63, Tel +49 (0)911 274380.
Motel One: Cool design, double room from €59, Bahnhofstraße 18. Tel +49 (0)911 2743170
Art Hotel City: Packages, i.e. 2 nights with breakfast in a double room, entrance to 49 museums, Nurembergcard, €199. Bauerngasse 32. Tel +49 (0)911 2747554

The view of the river gives you an idea of the original flair of the city that
Wine house.
might even remind you of Strasbourg’s Petite France. We wander along the riverside, cross the Pegnitz once again over the Henkersteg (Hangman’s Bridge) and on a small island in the river, the ‘Trödelmarkt’ (Flea Market), we can view the architecture surrounding us.

The pedestrian zone is unspectacular, and is not dissimilar to any other in Rostock or Ulm, apart from a few highlights. For instance the Nassauer Haus, Karolinen Straße 2, which was rebuilt in 1952 after almost complete destruction in WWII. The tower was originally a place of residence built in the Middle Ages, but had been added to with sandstone floors above and a delicate gallery between the middle windows.

The Lorenz Church

Opposite the Lorenzkirche dominates the proceedings with its three naves. The stunning gothic church built between 1250-1477 with its grand rose window between two slender towers and its striking façade and decorated grand portal show the importance in which it was held by the citizens of the city who financed its construction. A famous addition in 1517/18 was the Englische Gruß by Veit Stoß. This wonderful statue made of gold painted lime wood depicts the Archangel Gabriel and the Virgin Mary in a ring of 55 golden roses.

This statue hangs several metres above the heads of the viewers. It fell in 1817 and was almost completely destroyed but was then painstakingly was restored. An almost 20 metre high sandstone tabernacle built by Adam Kraft between 1493 and 1496 was walled in and thus spared damage during the war. The central kneeling figure of the 3 supporting the sacrament housing is depicted with stone mason’s tools, and is understood to be a self portrait of the artist himself.

This Article is part of the tour "The Golden Road"


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