Embark on a day of discovery in Nuremberg, a Bavarian town rich in culture and history. Beyond its medieval charm lies a vibrant city waiting to be explored. Join us as we uncover the top attractions and hidden gems in this captivating destination.
As we mapped out our road trip through Northern Bavaria (check out our post here), we made sure to include Nuremberg on our itinerary. Situated in Middle Franconia, Nuremberg stands as the second largest town in the state of Bavaria, boasting a rich tapestry of history and culture. Among its many attractions, the medieval castle stands out as a timeless icon, with roots dating back over a thousand years. In this post, we've compiled a curated list of the best things to explore when visiting the medieval town of Nuremberg.
Nuremberg's history traces back to the 11th century when it was founded and steadily grew in importance over the centuries. It became particularly significant during the time of the Holy Roman Empire when the Imperial Diet, the empire's deliberative and legislative body, frequently convened in the city. Nuremberg's strategic location made it a favored stopping point for the Emperor during his travels throughout the realm, with the Nuremberg Castle serving as one of the primary venues for these gatherings.
However, Nuremberg's history also bears witness to darker chapters, particularly during World War II and the rise of Nazism. The city gained notoriety as the site of the Nazi Party rallies, grand spectacles orchestrated by Adolf Hitler to showcase the regime's power and ideology. Additionally, Nuremberg later became synonymous with the pursuit of justice after the war, serving as the location for the Nuremberg Trials where war criminals were prosecuted for their atrocities. Today, remnants of the Nazi Rally Grounds stand as poignant reminders of this turbulent period in history, offering visitors insight into the megalomania of Hitler and the extent of Nazi propaganda. While these sites lie outside the old town and require several hours to explore, they serve as important historical landmarks that shed light on Nuremberg's complex past.
HOW TO GET THERE?
Nuremberg, located in the heart of Bavaria, is easily accessible by various modes of transportation. Here's how you can reach this charming city:
- By train: Nuremberg is well-connected to major cities across Germany and Europe via its central train station, Nürnberg Hauptbahnhof. High-speed trains, regional trains, and international services make it convenient to reach Nuremberg from destinations near and far.
- By car: Nuremberg is conveniently located near several major highways, including the A3, A6, and A9. Travelers can easily reach the city by car from nearby cities such as Munich, Frankfurt, and Stuttgart. Parking facilities are available in the city center for those arriving by car.
- By bus: Bus services connect Nuremberg with neighboring cities and towns, offering an affordable and convenient option for travelers. FlixBus and other bus companies operate services to and from Nuremberg, providing connections to various destinations across Europe.
Regardless of your preferred mode of transportation, Nuremberg's central location and excellent transport links make it easily accessible for visitors from near and far.
A WALK THROUGH THE CITY
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1. IMPERIAL CASTLE
The starting point of this walk is the Imperial Castle. Located on the top of a rocky hill in the north part of old-town Nuremberg, the Imperial Castle was one of the most important fortified imperial palaces of the Old Holy Roman Empire. But palace is a very strong word to use here, it is more like a group of medieval fortified buildings. Although from far it seems like a single complex, it consists of three distinct sections: the Imperial castle (Kaiserburg), the former Burgraves' castle (an adjoining structure built for managing the imperial property while the emperor was out visiting other parts of the realm), and the part built by the Imperial City at the eastern site (Reichsstädtische Bauten). The sections are separated from one another by gates and walls.
| Opening hours |
Summer: daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Winter: daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
| Admission - 7 EUR |
2. CITY WALLS
Keeping the medieval spirit, you can go around the old-town walking on the four-kilometer circuit of well-preserved old walls which date back to the 14th and 15th centuries. Highlight for the Tiergärtnertor, a curved pathway gate nearby the castle which is a very nice spot. Of course, there are plenty of other gates and towers, many of which can be explored if you have enough time (and courage) to do so.
Now, here's a photo tip! Make your way to the iconic Weissgerbergasse in Nuremberg. This picturesque street is lined with impeccably preserved half-timbered buildings, housing charming bars, restaurants, and galleries. The street's winding curves provide the perfect perspective for capturing a stunning photo of traditional German architecture. Don't miss this quintessential Nuremberg scene!
4. HANGMAN'S BRIDGE
Continue the tour heading to the Henkersteg (Hangman's Bridge) which is a wooden footbridge with a tower where the hangman from Nuremberg used to live. Nuremberg is crossed by the river Pegnitz which creates nice canals around the old-town with some small islands and its bridges and green areas. The Fleischbrücke (Meat Bridge) is a single arch bridge in the center of the old-town built in the end of the 16th century and lasted undestroyed ever since, including during WWII.
5. WEISSER TURM (WHITE TOWER)
Now take the direction of the Weisser Turm (White Tower). This tower was built in the 12th century as part of the second fortification line out of the existing three lines of Nuremberg. It is located in a more commercial and renovated part of town, which emphasizes its medieval look. It got its name because it was covered in a white plaster, but after it was destroyed in a bombing during the World War II, it was re-erected without said plaster.
6. SAINT-LORENZ CHURCH
Continue a bit further up where you will find the Saint-Lorenz Church, a medieval temple whose building started in 1250 and presents an impressive facade with a magnificent portal richly decorated with statuary and rose window. Its two towers mirror the ones at Saint-Sebald Church and are 80 and 81 meters high.
7. MARKET SQUARE
Now cross the river and go to the Market Square, it is the heart of the old-town and holds many festivals and events all year round, including the famous Christmas Market, the origin of the renowned Lebkuchen, a traditional gingerbread from Nuremberg which has been baked for more than 600 years. In the square, you can find the Schöner Brunnen (Beautiful Fountain), a 14th-century fountain of 19 meters high and with the shape of a Gothic spire. It is adorned by 40 colorful figures representing the elements of the world view of the Holy Roman Empire. There are also two brass rings embedded in opposite sides of its surrounding fence that are said to bring good luck to those who spin them.
8. SAINT-SEBALD CHURCH
Nearby the Market Square facing the old town hall, there lays the oldest of the churches of Nuremberg: the former catholic Church of Saint-Sebald, built in the 13th century and transformed into a Lutheran parish since the Reformation. It homages Sebaldus, a hermit and missionary who lived in the 8th century and is nowadays the patron saint of the city, whose bones are presumed to be in the silver embossed "casket". This temple was severely destroyed by a bombing during the World War II but rebuilt afterwards.
And now, the final and well-deserve stop at the Bratwursthäusle. Located just behind the Saint-Sebald Church, nearby the Market Square, the Bratwursthäusle is a traditionally decorated German-cuisine restaurant that has been serving the famous sausage from Nuremberg since 1313: the Nürnberger. You can have potato salad and the very German Sauerkraut as side dishes, everything washed down with a glass of one of the famous German beers.
OUR FINAL THOUGHTS
In conclusion, Nuremberg offers a captivating blend of history, culture, and charm that leaves a lasting impression on visitors. From its medieval Old Town to its modern attractions, the city showcases the rich tapestry of Bavarian heritage. Whether you're exploring its historic landmarks, savoring its culinary delights, or simply soaking in the ambiance of its streets, Nuremberg promises a memorable experience for all. Don't miss the opportunity to discover the magic of this Bavarian gem on your next adventure.
And now it's your turn to let us know your impressions, thoughts and also tips to visit Nuremberg. We look forward to reading your comments in the section below.