From medieval times to 20th century history, Nuremberg has a history that is as varied as its cuisine all wrapped up in the red bows of the Christmas markets.
NUREMBERG, Germany, Jan. 19, 2016 – With more than 500,000 inhabitants, Nuremberg is located in the state of Bavaria, in southeastern Germany. It’s second in size to the state’s capital, Munich, which is about a hundred miles south and easily reachable on the A9 autobahn (highway).
Tourists can find their way to Nuremberg in a variety of ways including via air and high speed (ICE) trains.
Founded around A.D. 1050, Nuremberg is the youngest city in Germany, despite celebrating its 965th anniversary in 2015. And while Nuremberg may be the youngest city in Germany, it is also one of the more storied cities in the country.
Most visitors will be familiar with Nuremberg’s history during the Nazi era (from 1927 to 1945). Hitler held many Nazi rallies here, and in 1935 the Nuremberg Race Laws were promulgated that stripped Jews and other non-Aryan Germans of their citizenship.
Because Nuremberg was the location for several munitions and materiel factories, it was bombed heavily during World War II, and many buildings were destroyed or heavily damaged, including many of the medieval buildings of its Old Town.
After the war, Nazi leaders were placed on trial (Nuremberg Trials) for crimes against humanity.
Nuremberg has long since repudiated its Nazi past. But the city has gone further. Many relics (buildings and parade grounds) from the Nazi era still exist but have been turned into reminders of Germany’s “darkest past” – the crimes committed under the National Socialist regime, so that they might never again take place.
While Nuremberg’s connection to World War II brings many tourists, others come here to learn of its medieval history, culture and art, and to sample the local cuisine!
In the Middle Ages, cities protected themselves by building encircling walls, and no one could enter except in the daytime through specific gates. About four miles of Nuremberg’s city wall, once completely surrounding its Altstadt, or Old Town, still exists.
After visiting the wall, continue into the Old Town to see the much-restored medieval buildings with classic German architecture.
A must-see here is the house of the famous engraver and artist Albrecht Dürer, who resided here from 1500 until his death in 1528.
Damaged during World War II, the five-story building was restored after the war and in 1971 was opened as a museum devoted to Dürer’s life, times and work.
Of course the must-see Nuremberg Castle is in the Altstadt as well. Much of it was destroyed during the war and afterwards rebuilt to its ancient specifications. The castle is a vast complex of buildings and towers built over centuries.
In addition to the fortifications, visitors will enjoy the Maria Sibylla Merian Garden, created in honor of the famous 17th century naturalist and botanical illustrator, which features the plants she illustrated in her books.
The castle is open to visitors every day except Christmas Eve and Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Day, and Shrove Tuesday.
Germany is known for its wurst, or sausage, and every region has its own specialty.
In Nuremberg the specialty is rostbratwurst, which is much smaller and thinner than other varieties. Why so small? The obvious answer is so that sausage makers could make a higher profit on their wares. The romantic answer is that innkeepers made them in this dimension so that they could pass them through the keyholes of their guests rooms after curfew.
Another story is that holes were drilled through the walls of the cells in prison so that the bratwursts could be pushed through to the inmate on the other side.
Whatever the reason, sampling a genuine rostbratwurst on its bun is a treat.
Best Times to Visit Nuremberg
As the old saying goes, “any time is the right time” to visit Nuremberg, but there are events at certain times of the year that Nurembergers wait for and that draw thousands of tourists from around the world.
Of course, the most popular is Nuremberg’s Christmas Market, held during the first four weeks of December. Practically all German cities participate in this centuries-old tradition, and Nuremberg’s Christmas Market is the largest and perhaps the best known outside the country.
It even has its own website where you can find additional information on the market and Nuremberg.
Visitors to the Christmas market line up for Nuremberg’s famous bratwurst and its even more famous gingerbread. The stalls sell handcrafted Christmas ornaments and gifts of all kinds. Children will love to ride on the merry-go-round, too!
Regardless of the month in which you visit this historic city, you will find that the sights and sounds of Nuremberg will stay with you for a long time to come.
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