German flag  Nürnberg  German flag

Nurnberg street            In 1999, as we drove through Southern Germany on our honeymoon, we stopped for three days in
Heidelberg. After leaving Heidelberg, we drove to München (or in English - Munich) in Bavaria. On our way to München, we stopped in Nürnberg for the afternoon. We were here only for a few hours and it rained the whole time we were there. The rain, however, didn't keep us from having lunch and exploring the city.

Nürnberg (or Nuremberg) is an old city. It is the principal city of Franconia and second in size in Bavaria to München. The city is about 965 years old and one of the most historic cities in Germany full of half-timbered houses. As the city grew in the Middle-ages, the citizens built large walls with towers and moats around Nürnberg. These massive Medieval walls and towers, finished in 1452, still stand today. Unfortunately, much of the city was destroyed during the Second World War. However, they have done a great job restoring the city.

            When we arrived, we parked the car in the Hauptbahnhof (train station) parking garage. We walked along the outside of the old city walls to one of the gate houses that lead into the Altstadt or Old City. We entered the Altstadt along the Kartäuserga
ße, next to the Germanisches Nationalmuseum. This is the southern part of the Old City which is called the Lorenz Quarter. The Old City is divided into two quarters, divided by the Pegnitz River and is named after its main parish church.

          Built in an old Carthusian Monastery in 1852, the Germanisches Nationalmuseum is the largest cultural museum in Germany with over 1.2 million objects. The old monastery part is inside the museum. From where we walked, you could only see the modern buildings built in the 1950's and 1960's.
It would take you almost a whole day to walk through it. However, since we didn't have a whole day, we just walked by.

  History of Nürnberg

crest             First mentioned in 1050 as "Nourenberc", Nürnberg received a charter in 1219 and was made a free imperial city by the end of the 13th century. The city was independent of the burgraviate of Nürnberg, which included a large part of Franconia and which came under the control of the Hohenzollern family in 1192. Nürnberg soon became, with Augsburg, one of the two great trade centers on the route from Italy to Northern Europe.

Albrecht Dürer            The cultural flowering of
Nürnberg in the 15th and 16th century made it the center of the German Renaissance. Among the artists who were born or lived there, the painter Albrecht Dürer (self-portrait at right) was the greatest; others, such as the sculptors Adam Kraft, Veit Stoss and Peter Vischer, and the painter and woodcarver Michael Wolgemut, adorned the city with their works, which brought together the Italian Renaissance and the German Gothic traditions. The city was also an early center of humanism, science, printing, and mechanical invention. The scholars Pirkheimer and Celtes lectured in the city, Koberger set up a printing press and Regiomontanus an observatory, and the first pocket watches, known as Nürnberg eggs, were made here around 1500. An interest in culture on the part of the prosperous artisan class found expression in the contests of the meistersingers (mastersingers), among whom the shoemaker-poet Hans Sachs (1494–1576) was the most prominent.

           In 1525,
Nürnberg accepted the Protestant Reformation, and the religious Peace of Nürnberg, by which the Lutherans gained important concessions, was signed here in 1532. In the Thirty Years War, King Gustavus II of Sweden was besieged in Nürnberg by Wallenstein in 1632. The city declined after the war and recovered its importance only in the 19th century, when it grew as an industrial center. In 1806, Nürnberg became part of Bavaria. The first German railroad, from Nürnberg to nearby Fürth, was opened in 1835.

           After Adolf Hitler came to power,
Nürnberg was made a national shrine by the National Socialists Party or Nazis, who held their annual party congresses nearby from 1933 through 1938. The city was the home of the Nazi leader Julius Streicher and became a center of anti-Semitic propaganda. At the party congress of 1935 the so-called Nürnberg Laws were promulgated; they deprived German Jews of civic rights, forbade intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews and deprived persons of partly Jewish descent of certain rights.

            Until 1945,
Nürnberg was the site of roughly half the total German production of airplane, submarine, and tank engines; as a consequence, the city was heavily bombed by the Allies during World War II and was largely destroyed. After the war, Nürnberg was the seat of the international tribunal for war crimes. Some of the top Nazi's were put on trial here for crimes against humanity. Among those on trial was Julius Streicher, who was found guilty and later hanged.

Today, Nürnberg
is a modern city, the 14th largest in Germany, with 493,553 people, and the second largest in Bavaria. Like everywhere else in Germany, football or fußball (soccer) is the main FC Nürnberg logosport.  The local professional fußball team is FC Nürnberg  (Fußball Club Nürnberg), who wear red shirt and black shorts and play in the 44,600 seat Frankenstadion. Built in 1928, the stadium was called "Stadion der Hitler-Jugend" (Hitler Youth Stadium) between 1933 and 1945. Begun in 1900, FC Nürnberg, also known as "der Club", had been one of Germany's more successful clubs. They have won nine national titles, however, six of them were between the wars and another right after. Their last title came in 1968 after which their coach Max Merkel dismantled the team which started a long period of decline. Today, FC Nürnberg plays in Germany's top division, but doesn't see much success, sometimes even dropping (relegated) to the second division. One of Germany's top goaltenders Andreas Köpke played for FC Nürnberg.

the Deutsche Ice Tigers logo            
Nürnberg also has a professional hockey team, the Nürnberg Ice Tigers. Professional hockey in Germany is not as well organized as it is in many other countries. The Ice Tigers, originally called the EHC 80 Nürnberg (established in 1980), play in Germany's top league, the Deutsche Eishockey Liga or DEL (established in 1995) being one of the original 18 founding members (today the league has 14 members). They play in the modern 8,200 seat Arena Nürnberg (opened in 2001). They used to play in the old Linde Stadion which hosted the 1936 Olympic hockey games (torn down in 2001). In the 1990's, they didn't finish well and never won a championship. However, in 1999, they finished in first place, unfortunately they lost in the finals to the Adler Mannheim Eagles. Since 2001, they have been doing very well, but somehow lose every year in the quarter-finals.

        From there we entered the Kornmarkt. It began to rain hard, so we, and everyone else, stayed under cover for a little while. It eventually slowed down and we continued our walk. We walked to a large open plaza next to St. Lorenz Kirche (St. Lawrence's Church). Begun in 1270, St. Lorenz Kirche took more than 200 years to complete. St. Lorenz Kirche is considered one of the more beautiful churches in Nürnberg and is an important part of the Nürnberg skyline with it's twin spires flanking the main west doorway. The doorway's sculptures depict the theme of redemption, from Adam and Eve through the Last Judgment.

            Like other churches in
Nürnberg and Germany, the choir is considerably higher than the nave and aisles. This means that internally, the choir is brighter, lit by taller windows than the remainder of the church. The choir was the last portion of the church to be completed in 1477. St. Lorenz Kirche has a fine interior with many sculptures. Like everything else in Nürnberg, St. Lorenz Kirche
was badly damaged during the Second World War, though the main structure including the towers remained intact.

Hellig Geist Spital            Debbie and I continued our walk down Konigstra
ße to the Pegnitz River which cuts through the center of the Altstadt. We crossed the Museumsbrücke (museum bridge) just to the west of the Hellig Geist Spital (Hospital of the Holy Spirit). This is a very picturesque place (even on a rainy day). You can get a great picture of this beautiful 15th century building built out over the river. The Hellig Geist Spital was founded in 1332 by Konrad Gross, a wealthy patrician, for the care for the elderly and needy. It was the largest private endowment in the Holy Roman Empire up to 1500. and the wing in the photo that spans the river was added between 1488 and 1527. The main complex features a lovely courtyard with wooden galleries overlooking it. The building was badly damaged
during the Second World War destroying everything above the roof level.

             If you are wondering what the symbol "ß" is. It is called an "Eszett" and is pronounced like a double "s". In addition, the word Straße or Strasse is, if you haven't already guessed, the Hauptmarkt & FrauenkircheGerman word for street.

       After crossing the river, we had entered the Sebald Quarter of the Old City. We continued walking north to the Hauptmarkt. This is Nürnberg's main market square and the heart of the city. During the days of the Third Reich, the square was renamed, "Adolf Hitler Platz," but it was changed back shortly after the U.S. Army arrived in town in 1945. As you can see from the photo, it was market day when we were here. They don't let a little rain stop them. In the back you can see the Frauenkirche which borders the east side of the square. It was heavily damaged in World War II, losing windows and it's roof (there is a photo below), but has been restored. In December, the "Christkindlmarkt" or Christ-child market is held here, with exhibits of Christmas toys and decorations.

              The late-Gothic Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) was built, with the approval of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, in 1350. It was built out of redstone blocks and stands Schöner Brunnenas a perfect example of German Gothic architecture. It was built on the site of a synagogue that was destroyed during a pogrom in 1349. The second Nürnberg synagogue on Hans Sachs Platz was the first one destroyed by the Nazi's in 1938, three days before Kristallnacht. A memorial depicting the 19th century Moorish style synagogue is all that remains on the site. The church was also badly damaged in the bombings which destroyed all of the buildings near it. All the other buildings around the square were built after the war.

              One of the best features of the
Frauenkirche is the Mannleinlaufen. This is a clock that is set in the facade that was installed back in the year 1500. Below the clock is a mechanical show that appears everyday at noon. When the clock strikes 12, the electors of the Holy Roman Empire come out and bow to Emperor Charles IV.

              In the center of the Hauptmarkt is the Schöner Brunnen, which in German means, Beautiful Fountain (photo at left). The original was erected in 1385, but was replaced by a replica in the early 20th century. It has a sixty-two foot spire set into an octagonal pool. The pool is decorated with statues of philosophers, evangelists and church fathers. The spire is decorated with statues of Electors, along with Jewish and Christian heroes. Set into the railings is a golden ring. According to local legend, if you turn it three times, your wishes will come true. Or so they say. Unfortunately, because the day was cloudy and somewhat dark, I was not able to get a great photo of the fountain.

  The Bombing of Nürnberg

             Since Nürnberg was the national shrine of the Nazi Party, it
naturally became a target of Allied bombings during the Second World War. This caused massive destruction of the old Medieval city. Hauptmarkt & Frauenkirche in 1945The citizens of Nürnberg suffered through 38 air raids during the war. One of the worst was on the night of January 2, 1945, when 525 British Lancaster bombers destroyed or damaged most of the old city, including the medieval walls, castle and 13th century Gothic churches. At that point in the war, it was the most devastating air-raid attack on a civilian population and only the bombing of Dresden, a month later, caused more damage and civilian deaths in Germany. In just one hour, they dropped 6,000 high explosive bombs and one million incendiary bombs. 2,000 citizens lost their lives that night and another 100,000 were homeless. The old sections of Nürnberg were completely destroyed (39% of all buildings completely vanished and another 52% were heavily damaged). The castle and old churches were bombed out. Overall Nürnberg was the most destroyed city in all of Germany after Dresden. After the war, the people of Nürnberg set out to rebuild their city. The Frauenkirche is in the right of the picture next to the Hauptmarkt on April 20, 1945, with the U.S. 45th Infantry Division reviewing troops after capturing the city. You can some tanks in the background near the church. This was also Hitler's birthday and ten days before he would commit suicide. My photo above shows what it looks like today.

Pegnitz River            The Pegnitz River, seen here, rises near Lindenhard in Upper Franconia (Bavaria) from two sources. At first it is called the Fichtenohe, but when it reaches the town of  Buchau it's name changes to the Pegnitz. It continues flowing in a south-westerly direction disappearing below the small town of Pegnitz into a mountain cavern. It re-appears and flows into Middle Franconia through the center of Nürnberg. The Pegnitz continues flowing east until it reaches the Pegnitz River near the city of Fürth. The Pegnitz flows north to the city of Bamberg where it flows into the Main River. 
             These two pictures were taken
from the bridge off Hauptmarktstraße Museumsbrückeand looking east (top) and west (bottom). The top-left picture shows the southern part of the Museumsbrücke (museum bridge) which we crossed when we entered the Sebald Quarter and I took the picture of the Hellig Geist Spital (Hospital of the Holy Spirit) which is just beyond the bridge in the photo. I found the jumbled collection of houses along the river to be interesting. The bridge in the photo at right is west of the Hauptmarktstraße bridge and is looking at the Karlsbrücke.

          Nuremberg has one of the largest pedestrian zones (called Fußgangerzone) in Germany, covering roughly 70% of the Altstadt. This makes walking around very pleasant since you can casually stroll without having to dodge cars.

Nürnberger Bratwursttag        Debbie and I decided to stop for lunch. We ate in an outdoor cafe on the Burgstraße next to the back of St. Sebaldus Kirche. It was only lightly drizzling at the time and the umbrellas over our table kept us relatively dry.  We had a local favorite, Nürnberger Bratwursttag, which were served on pewter plates shaped like hearts (as you can see in the photo). It came with sauerkraut and potatoes (of, course) and I enjoyed the local Lederer beer while Debbie had a Coke (as usual). I am told that the ingredients of the Nürnberger Bratwursttag are secret. They love their bratwurst so much that May 20 in Nürnberg is "Nürnberger Bratwursttag Day." The Lederer beer was fine. Other
Nürnberg beers are Barfüßer and Altstadthof.

            If you are wondering what the symbol "ß" is. It is called an "Eszett" and is pronounced like a double "s". In addition, the word Straße or Strasse is, if you haven't already guessed, the German word for street.

St. Sebaldus Kirche          St. Sebaldus Kirche, which was consecrated in 1273, is an excellent example of the transition from Romanesque to German Gothic styles. Originally built as a Romanesque basilica with two choirs, it was remodeled during the 14th century. During this, aisles and the western choir were added. The two towers were completed in the 15th century. Originally a Catholic church, now it's now Protestant. One of it's prominent features inside is the Sebaldusgrab, Tomb of St. Sebaldus, a masterpiece of brasswork by Peter Vischer and his sons. In the silver coffin are relics of St. Sebaldus. The coffin rests on figures of snails and dolphins and all around are figurines of sacred and ordinary people like the 12 Apostles, St. Sebaldus himself and the artist Peter Vischer (shown in working attire). Down at the other end of the nave is a bronze baptismal font, the oldest bronze work in Nürnberg.

            The church was very badly damaged during the Second World War and has been completely restored. In places it was decided to add new features to replace those which could not be repaired. The sculptures over the two main doorways show an original carving and a new one added during the restoration. The
interior is probably the finest in Nürnberg. The view here is of the front (we ate in a cafe on the other side).

Rathaus            Across from the cafe on Burgstraße is the Rathaus (Town Hall). Behind this Renaissance palazzo, is an older Gothic Rathaus (Altes Rathaus) built in 1332-40. As Nürnberg
became wealthier and more important, it was felt that a new and grander Rathaus (Neue Rathaus) was needed. The new building was built between 1616 and 1622. It feature three grand doorways decorated with heraldic motifs and on a truly grand scale (one of them is pictured here at left). The building itself is quite austere at street level but as you look upwards, the corner towers, cornice and windows grab your attention. Most of the building was destroyed in the bombings of 1945 and was later completely rebuilt. Below the Altes Rathaus (old city hall) is a medieval dungeon, built back in 1332, that is today a museum called Mittelalterliche Lochgefängnisse. Various gruesome instruments of torture are preserved here. We didn't have the time to visit it on this trip.

            From here, Debbie and I continued our walking tour towards the northern part of the Altstadt. This part is a bit uphill.
Albrecht Dürer HouseWe walked up to the walled part of the old castle. As we walked along the wall, we came to the Albrecht Dürer House. Albrecht Dürer, was the court painter for Emperor Maximilian I, has been called the Leonardo da Vinci of Germany, the ultimate Renaissance man. He was noted for his portrait of Charlemagne which hangs at the Germanishes National Museum and for his representation of the Four Apostles at the Nürnberg Rathaus. Besides paintings, Dürer also did copper and iron engraving and wood block printing. A native of Nürnberg, Dürer lived here from 1509 until his death in 1528. The house was bought by the city in 1828. Typical of the half-timbered burghers' houses of the 15th century, the structure is the only completely preserved Gothic house in Nürnberg. The first floors are sandstone, surmounted by two half-timbered stories and a gabled roof with a view of the town below. It is now a museum with Stone towersexhibits inside the house that are devoted to Dürer 's life and works. Many of the rooms are furnished with important historical pieces and contain original etchings and woodcuts, plus copies of Dürer's paintings. During the Second World War, a high explosive bomb landed just outside the house, causing serious damage but relative to other buildings in the city comparatively unscathed. As you can from the photo, I was having a lot of trouble keeping the camera dry.

            I took some more pictures then Debbie and I started walking back toward the southern end of the Altstadt. I took some more pictures of bridges over the Pegnitz River on the way. We eventually made it back to the train station and our car and continued our trip to München. It was an enjoyable, if not wet afternoon in Nürnberg.

             There are some other historical places in Nürnberg that we didn't have the time to visit. Both of them are outside the Altstadt area and walking distance. One of them is the
Palace of Justice (Justizgebäude) at Fürtherstraße 22, about two miles west of the Hauptbahnhof (train station). Its a large complex of buildings outside the Altstadt. It was here in 1945 and into 1946 that the Nazi War Crime trials were held. The Palace of Justice where the trial took place, is still being used as a courthouse today. They just started having guided tours (in German) on the weekend that focus on the history of the trial.

 Nürnberg War Trials

             From November 20, 1945 until October 1, 1946, the International Military Tribunal convened in room 600 in the Nürnberg Palace of Justice. United States Of America Supreme Court Associate Justice Robert H. Jackson, who was the chief prosecutor at the trials, recommended Nürnberg as the site for the trials for several reasons. Nurnberg War Crimes TrailThe Courthouse was big enough to accommodate many people, 530 offices and about 80 courtrooms. It was well preserved after the war when most of the city was destroyed. Each of the four Allied Powers (France was now included ) provided one judge and an alternate; they provided the prosecutors, too. Among the defendants were Nazi leaders as Hermann Göring, Rudolf Hess, Julius Streicher, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Wilhelm Keitel, Alfred Jodl, Joachim von Ribbentrop and the architect Albert Speer.

            On 218 days of trials, testimony from 360 witnesses was introduced, some verbal, some written and some (236 witnesses) from the court itself.  The verdicts were announced on September 30, 1946; three acquittals, 12 sentences to death by hanging, 7 sentences to life imprisonment or to lesser terms. Those sentenced to death were executed in the early morning of October 16, 1946, in the old gymnasium of
Nürnberg prison, which was torn down in 1987 as part of a modernization project. The bodies were subsequently cremated in Munich and the ashes were strewn in an estuary of the Isar River. Those sentenced to imprisonment were transferred to the prison in Berlin-Spandau, which the Allies had chosen for this purpose. The last of the prisoners, Rudolf Hess, committed suicide there in August, 1987. Hermann Göring, who had received a death sentence, committed suicide in his jail cell before the sentence could  be carried out.

              Contrary to the original plans, no subsequent international tribunal took place. From 1947 to 1949, twelve U.S. military trials involving politicians, military personnel, businessmen and industrialists, doctors, lawyers, members of the Foreign Office, etc. were held in Nürnberg. Similar trials were also conducted in the French, British and Soviet occupation zones.

Zeppelin Field            South-east of the city is Zeppelin Field. It was here that the Nazi Party held their gigantic rally's. Hitler used to make speeches here from the grandiose grandstand built by Albert Speer, to masses of people numbering in the tens of thousands. Shortly after Nürnberg was captured by the United States Army in 1945, they blew up the giant stone swastika which had been erected above the center of the grandstand (the video of the explosion has been featured in a number of World War II documentaries). Today they hold concerts here, though the grandstand is a bit overrun with weeds. They also have a museum here called the  Documentation Centre Nazi Party Rally Grounds (or in German: Dokumentationszentrum Reichsparteitagsgelände) located in the north wing of the Congress Hall (a building designed by Albert Speer and planned by the Nazi Party to hold 50,000 people but was never completed).

            Debbie and I did not visit either places but instead drove south on toward München. The drive was difficult because of the heavy rain. However, we made it safe and sound to München.

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This website was created on August 20, 2005

Nürnberg - Then and Now

        Here are a couple of comparison pictures I put together of photos I took on our trip and photos of bomb damage made in 1945 (which I didn't take). Coincidentally, my pictures were taken from similar angles.

Hellig Geist Spital 1945-1999

Albrecht Durer House