Things to Do in Nuremberg
Towering over the Altstadt (Old Town) north of the River Pegnitz, Nuremberg Castle was once the most important in Germany, as it was the seat of the Holy Roman Emperors who virtually ruled over Europe for hundreds of years from medieval times. Begun in 1120, the castle has been extended, abandoned, remodeled and blown to pieces over the centuries before being completely restored to its original Romanesque and Gothic grandeur following Allied bombing in World War II.
The castle complex straddles the top of a low hill and resembles a small city behind its fortified walls, comprising several separate half-timbered palaces, towers, stables, chapels, underground cellars and courtyards all built of mellow sandstone and topped with red brick tiles. Of these, the Romanesque chapel and Imperial Apartments should be visited first as they are ornately decorated and contain a permanent exhibition on the Holy Roman Empire.
The site of six of Hitler’s infamous Nazi Party rallies sits southeast of Nuremberg city center, a vast tract of land covering 4.2 square miles (11 square kilometers) lying virtually untended a short, lakeside walk from the Nazi Documentation Center. The massive parade grounds and mammoth Modernist stadium, with its central focus on the stern, austere Zeppelin Grandstand, are slowly crumbling into dilapidation, and the German government is torn between knocking them down or preserving them as a reminder of the horrors of the Third Reich.Built by Nazi architect Albert Speer in 1933, the stadium was designed as a “cathedral of light” with floodlight reaching up to the sky. It became a backdrop for some of Adolf Hitler’s most notorious speeches, when millions of Hitler youth and Nazi sympathizers attended his political rallies and were whipped into a frenzy of hatred against the Jews, leading to the passing of the notorious Nuremberg Laws and ultimately to the Holocaust.
Famous for his delicate and anatomically precise etchings, woodcuts and prints, Albrecht Dürer was a Northern Renaissance artist who lived all his life in Nuremberg between 1471 and 1528. During the 15th and 16th centuries, the city became one of Germany’s most successful commercial centers and also the focus of a great artistic flowering. Dürer was at the heart of this creative movement, visiting the great Renaissance cities of Italy, regularly attending courts of European royalty and revolutionizing printmaking. His iconic works include The Apocalypse, a number of self-portraits, books on the human anatomy and many sublime animal prints as well as friezes for civic halls in Nuremberg and altar pieces in Prague.
The Albrecht Dürer House is a fachwerkhaus, a half-timbered townhouse with a steep wooden roof and of an architectural style seen all over Bavaria.
The Hauptmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany is the city's main square, and it is located near the Frauenkirche, the Church of Our Lady. Crowds gather here at noon to witness the clock's figures performing Männleinlaufen, or Little Men Dancing, up in the clock tower. One of the main features of the square is the Schönen Brunnen fountain with intricately detailed sculptures carved onto the sides. The church and the fountain were built in the 14th century and are important pieces of the square, although the fountain you see today is a replica. The original is held in the German National Museum for safekeeping. This is the city's main outdoor market where you can find fruit, vegetables, meats, cheeses, bread, flowers, crafts, and other local goods. Several cafes and restaurants are located on and near the square, and several pedestrian streets lined with stores connect with the square, making this a nice area to go shopping. In December you'll find Christmas markets set up in this square.
The ornate Schöner Brunnen is a landmark fountain in the cobbled Market Square (Hauptmarkt) of Nuremberg’s medieval Altstadt (Old Town). Created by local stonemason Heinrich Beheimby, it is a highly decorative, three-tiered masterpiece of religious imagery, adorned with 40 gaily colored, sculpted figures representing characters from the Holy Roman Empire.
At 62 feet (19 meters) high, the fountain has been restored several times over the centuries, and most of its original stone carvings are now preserved in the German National Museum (Germanisches Nationalmuseum). The wrought-iron fence that surrounds the Gothic fountain was designed by Paulus Kühn of Augsburg in 1587 and has a famous golden handle that must be twisted for good luck. The Market Square itself is lined with multi-gabled townhouses and the ornate façade of the Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche), the site of a daily food market, as well as the famous Nuremberg Christmas Market (Christkindlesmarkt).
Founded in 1852, the home of the German National Museum has extended over the years as the collection has increased; it was originally housed in a 14th-century former monastery, to which a Neo-Gothic extension was added in the 1900s. Extensive bomb damage in World War II led to architect Sep Ruf designing glass-and-brick replacements for demolished galleries in the 1960s and the last addition was the glass entrance foyer, which is approached via thought-provoking sculptures in the Avenue of Human Rights by Jewish artist Dani Karavan.
Today the multi-story museum contains some 1.3 million artifacts showcasing Germanic culture and art, all on show in light, airy galleries and divided into 23 collections encompassing – among others – prehistory, prints and drawings, textiles, decorative arts, musical instruments and 20th-century art.
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