When planning our road trip in Northern Bavaria (check our post about it here), we knew that we'd stop in Nuremberg. Located in Middle Franconia, Nuremberg is the second largest town of the state of Bavaria (after Munich) and feature many sights to visit. One of the most iconic sight is the medieval castle which dates back to more than a thousand years ago. This post provides a list of the best things to see when visiting the medieval town of Nuremberg.
The city is said to be founded in the 11th century and ever since it grew in importance since the Imperial Diet (the deliberative and legislative body of the Holy Roman Empire) and the courts met at Nuremberg. Actually, the Empire did not have a capital, thus the Emperor went in journeys throughout the realm and the Nuremberg castle was one of the favorite stopping places.
As a matter of fact, Nuremberg has also a dark important side during the World War II and the rise of Nazism since it hosted the Nazi rallies and, later on, it became the site for the trials of war crimes at the Palace of Justice. There are the remaining structures of the Nazi Rally Grounds that can be visited showcasing the unbelievable megalomania of Hitler and its party. As it is located outside the old-town and needs some hours to visit, we left it for a later opportunity.
HOW TO GET TO NUREMBERG?
Nuremberg can be easily reached from many major German cities:
- By car: it is around 1h drive from Bamberg and around 1h30 from Rothenburg. It is a 2h30 drive from Frankfurt, Stuttgart or Munich.
- By train: you can take advantage of the nice weekend trip plans Deutsche Bahn offers to visit Nuremberg over a weekend for as low as 13.5 EUR (if you are a group of 5).
- By bus: Flixbus offers routes between the main cities in Germany and medium towns, it is worth checking if you are travelling alone and on the budget.
A NICE WALK THROUGH THE CITY
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. - 6 p.m. - Winter: daily from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. | Admission - 7 EUR
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, a photo tip! Head up to the iconic street of Nuremberg: the Weissgerbergasse with preserved historical half-timbered buildings filled with bars, restaurants and galleries. Its curviness gives a perfect perspective for a nice picture of traditional German Architecture.
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.
Even if Nuremberg has known an obscure path, including during and after WWI, it won't disappoint you! Make sure to spend at least a day in this incredible town full of history and which has plenty to offer!
And now it's your turn to let us know your impressions, thoughts and also tips to visit Nuremberg. Did you have time to visit the Nazi Rally Grounds? Did you have the opportunity to visit the castle? Which other attractions would you recommend? We look forward to reading your comments in the section below.