LivingTravelTop 12 things to do in Nuremberg

Top 12 things to do in Nuremberg

The 950-year-old city of Nuremberg (spelled Nürnberg in German) is still alive with history. It is the second largest city in Bavaria, about two hours from Munich and a frequent stop for people heading to the southern capitol.

This charming city has a castle and whimsical statues and fountains, as well as one of the best Christmas markets in the country, but it is also known for its infamous connection to the Nazi holiday. There are many highlights of Nuremberg that no traveler should miss, from history buffs and art lovers to culinary and romantic travelers.

Here is the best of Nuremberg.

Walk through Nuremberg’s Old Town and the city walls

The ideal way to explore Nuremberg’s Altstadt (Old Town) is on foot. Although much of Nuremberg was destroyed during WWII, the medieval old town has been faithfully rebuilt.

One of the main attractions is the original city walls, Stadtgraben (protective ditch) and towers. Not just for show, the walls were first erected in the 11th century and were very effective in deterring invaders. Throughout the long history of the Nuremberg fortifications, the city was only captured once: in 1945 by the Americans.

The best stretch of walls to walk on is along the west side of town, between Spittlertor and what was once Maxtor . Continue through the Burgviertel (castle quarter) which is full of sandstone and wooden houses. The Weißgerbergasse street is a wonderful example of impressive craftsmanship.

Storming the castle

What would a castle quarter be without a castle? Kaiserburg or Nürnberger Burg was a royal residence of the kings of Germany between 1050 and 1571. This impressive castle is one of the most important surviving medieval fortresses in all of Europe.

The castle sits on a sandstone hill that presides over the city. With 351-meter-high fortifications, visitors can climb to the observation deck at the castle for panoramic views of Nuremberg. Another point of interest in the castle goes in the other direction. The Tiefer Brunnen (Deep Well) from 1563 pierces 50 meters into the cliff. To discover the castle’s history, the Bower Imperial Castle Museum exhibits medieval armor and weapons.

If you want to stay next to the cheap castle, there is a hostel in what was once the imperial stables, Jugendherberge Nürnberg.

Turn the gold ring for luck

The Schöner Brunnen (beautiful fountain) lives up to its name. Located in the elegant central square of Hauptmarkt, this fountain was designed in the late 1300s to surpass the nearby Frauenkirche . However, it was so impressive when it was finished that it was decided to keep it inside the plaza to better appreciate its beauty. It even survived World War II intact, as it was protected in a concrete shell.

Today it is 19 meters (62 feet) tall and its many golden decorations catch the sunlight. A total of 42 stone statues surround the fountain, including Moses and the seven prophets at the top, with a large copper ring on the north side of the fence. Legend has it that you have to turn the ring to the left three times to be lucky and locals and tourists visit the fountain for some Glück gut .

Visit the house of Albrecht Dürer

One of the most famous residents of Nuremberg was the artist Albrecht Dürer. A champion of the Northern Renaissance who lived in the late 1400s and early 1500s, he created some of the earliest maps of the stars and may be the best painter in Germany

The picturesque house in which he lived and worked just below the Imperial Castle is now a museum dedicated to his life and work. A master of the self-portrait, his work is prominently displayed and the decor matches the time period that he lived here. Guided tours are available in German and occasionally in English for super fans.

Partially damaged during the war, the house was magnificently restored in 1971 on Dürer’s 500th birthday. It’s hard to miss due to the crowds that gather here, and the giant bunny (simply known as “Der Hase by artist Jürgen Goertz ) across the street.

Tour the half-finished Nazi party rally grounds

Adolf Hitler declared that Nuremberg should be the “City of Nazi Party Demonstrations” in 1933. This legacy remains great.

The grounds and Hall of Congress were never fully realized, but they are still an impressive site. Modeled after the Holy Roman Empire, this was the venue for large Nazi events and parades with tribunes based on the Pergamon Altar providing seating to watch the troops trample the gardens. There are hours of news footage showing the grounds during its dire heyday.

Development of this location came to a halt as the war continued and was completely abandoned when the Nazi party collapsed. It stood as a sad monument to this time period for decades and is currently under municipal ownership, perhaps forever in partial ruins.

The huge Congress Hall is the largest preserved Nazi building, planned to house 50,000 people. A Dokuzentrum (Documentation Center) inside the hall covers the rise and fall of the Nazi Party.

Relive the Nuremberg trials

In the east wing of the Justizpalast (Palace of Justice) in Nuremberg there is a museum dedicated to the notorious trials that took place after the Second World War between 1945 and 1949.

On the top floor, there is a museum about the Nuremberg trials. Visitors hear about the run-up to the war, the individual roles people played, and can even visit room 600. This is where the leaders of the Nazi regime were prosecuted for their crimes.

The site is still a functioning courtroom, but visitors can observe this location between sessions. The easiest time to visit is on Saturdays with tours available in English.

Eat at the oldest sausage restaurant in the world

Nürnberg Rostbratwurst is a very popular sausage in Germany. Each hot dog is about the size of a fat pinkie, weighs about an ounce, and is 3-4 inches (7 to 9 cm) long. Made from coarsely ground pork, sausages are usually seasoned with marjoram, salt, pepper, ginger, cardamom, and lemon powder.

This sausage is under the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) as the German beer from Cologne, Kölsch or the famous Spreewald pickle. More than 3 million Nürnberg Rostbratwurst are produced every day and eaten around the world.

Served everywhere from imbiss stalls to biergartens , there is no better place to eat this wurst than in the city of its birth. The best place to eat them is in Bratwurstglöcklein im Handwerkerhof. This restaurant has been cooking nürnberger bratwurst since 1313 and is the oldest sausage kitchen in Nuremberg. Wursts are traditionally cooked, grilled on a charcoal grill and served in the classic tin plate with sauerkraut, potato salad, horseradish, fresh bread or pretzel, and of course a Franconian beer.

Look at the clock in the church

The Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) is a focal point of the city center opposite the Hauptmarkt . Meet here at noon every day to see the “Running Men” clock (built in 1509) at 12 noon and voters on the move pay tribute to Emperor Charles IV.

At Christmas, climb the steps of the church and find the special Christkindlesblick exhibit that allows for great views from the balcony over the square for a small entrance fee.

Find the best of German culture at the museum

The Germanisches Nationalmuseum houses the country’s largest collection of German art and culture.

The museum covers everything from toys to armor to scientific instruments in its 1.3 million items, as well as more than 300,000 works of art. Among its collection is the oldest globe in the world. Created in 1492, there are great differences in the world we are used to today. There is no America in the world, as the Europeans had not yet discovered it.

Approach the museum from Kartäusergasse and Straße der Menschenrechte (The Way of Human Rights). This street is a monument dedicated to world peace.

Take a walk on the wild side at the zoo

Tiergarten Nürnberg (Nuremberg Zoo) is one of the largest zoos in Europe with almost 70 hectares.

Founded in 1912 and located in Nuremberg’s Reichswald, east of the Altstadt , the zoo is housed in a former sandstone quarry. These features have been used by the zoo to create natural enclosures for animals such as the Siberian and Bengal tigers.

Snow leopards, bison, maned wolves, South African cheetahs, bottlenose dolphins, bearded vultures, lowland gorillas and polar bears are also seen.

Have dinner at the hospital

The Heilig-Geist-Spital Nürnberg (Hospital of the Holy Spirit in Nuremberg) is a spectacular site that juts out from the canal. It is one of the largest hospitals of the Middle Ages, founded in 1332, and it is one of the few that still stands.

It was severely damaged during WWII, but it was beautifully rebuilt in the 1950s and is an eye-catching attraction. Enter the hospital without needing a sick note and dine in the restaurant. They serve traditional Bavarian food in the most atmospheric settings.

Celebrate Christmas in one of the best markets in Germany.

Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt (Nuremberg Christmas Market) is one of the most popular Christmas markets in Germany.

The traditional market dates back to the 16th century and takes place in the cobbled streets of Nuremberg’s romantic Old Town. Their organizers keep an eye on the tasteful décor of the log cabins (no plastic garlands or recorded Christmas music!).

Add another Nuremberg specialty to your diet this time of year with Nürnberger Lebkuchen , a unique gingerbread freshly made here and shipped across the country. Buy some as souvenirs or look for traditional ornaments like the Rauschgoldengel (golden angel) or Zwetschgenmännle (plum figure).

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