The German city of Nuremberg will forever be remembered as the site where crimes against humanity committed by the Nazis between 1939 and the end of World War II were tried. However, it may be unfair to pigeonhole it in this eternal historical stigma.
Nuremberg is also known as the toy capital of Germany and for hosting the most beautiful Christmas market in Europe. With 540,000 inhabitants – it is the second largest city in the state of Bavaria, after Munich – it has a beautiful historic center, surrounded by a medieval wall built in 1325.
Other must-see attractions include the Kaiserburg Castle, the Documentation Center, the medieval dungeons and the lively Karolinenstraße pedestrian street.
The historic center is home to the vast majority of buildings, museums, churches and monuments to see in Nuremberg. It is ideal for walking or cycling, as this is one of the most bike-friendly cities in Europe, with a huge number of cycle paths. It is recommended to walk aimlessly through the medieval streets, both inside and outside the wall of more than 5 kilometers that surrounds the historic center.
This walled area, known as Alstadt, is a cobblestone labyrinth that encloses great attractions to see in Nuremberg such as the Toy Museum, the Church of St. Sebald and Nuremberg Castle, among elegant buildings and charming wooden houses in the Weißgerbergaße. It should be noted that this area of the city was rebuilt in detail after World War II, since the bombing destroyed almost ninety percent of Nuremberg (it was the second most bombed city in Germany, after Berlin).
With its beautiful sandstone facade, the Kaiserburg Castle is one of the great attractions to see in Nuremberg. It was built in the 1st century and, although it was left in ruins after the Second World War, it was restored to remind us that this was one of the most sublime fortresses of the Holy Roman Empire.
Inside is the Kaiserburg Museum, which tells the history of the castle and its defensive system. You can also visit the imperial apartments and the palace complex. It is recommended to climb the Sinwellturm tower to get fantastic views of the old town and its walls.
Fascination and Terror is the name of the permanent exhibition at the Reichsparteitagsgelaende Documentation Center, known as the Dokuzentrum. This exhibition explains the rise of Nazism in Germany -through a tour of the party congresses- and the germ of terror that was planted at the beginning of Adolf Hitler’s political career, which would trigger the greatest holocaust in history.
It is a very interesting site to tour, in a large complex of more than 10 square kilometers on the Grosser Dutzendteich lake. There is a conference hall, a stadium and the famous Zeppelin Field, the test flight area of the giant zeppelins. It is noteworthy that Hitler declared Nuremberg as the City of the Third Reich’s Party Congresses. Every year 500,000 National Socialists gathered there for a week.
From Monday to Saturday, between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., one of the most picturesque markets to see in Nuremberg, the Hauptmarkt, opens its doors in the center of the city, on the upper bank of the Pegnitz River. A leisurely stroll through the market is the best way to see how the locals do their shopping and, by the way, try a good Currywurst sausage (with curry and ketchup) at one of the fair’s stalls.
Karolinenstraße is the main shopping street to see in Nuremberg. It is 300 meters of lively pedestrian artery, located at the height of the Church of St. Lawrence in the old town. All kinds of stores line Karolinenstraße, with luxury brands, clothing stores and a wide range of restaurants where you can try the caloric German food. It is worth saying that the most famous dish in Nuremberg is the rostbratwurst sausages. These sausages are very small and should be ordered between six and ten units (they are the size of a finger) to be satiated. They are most commonly accompanied by potato salad or sauerkraut.
German National Museum
Opened in the mid-nineteenth century, the German National Museum is the country’s largest museum on the history of mankind and culture. Its collections range from German art to painting, stained glass, furniture, instruments of medieval justice, musical instruments, textile production, sculptures and weapons. Its large library contains nearly 700,000 books and a rarity: the Erdapfel, a globe made by Martin Behaim at the end of the 15th century, the oldest in the world. For a break, a very nice Austrian restaurant called Café Arte operates in the museum.
Just steps from the Hauptmarkt Market is one of the most curious attractions to see in Nuremberg: the medieval dungeons, nicknamed The Hole. These dungeons operated during the 14th century in the basement of the old City Hall. Today you can visit the 12 tiny cells (in which two prisoners were crammed into a space of 2 x 2 meters) and the fearsome torture chamber, a haunting symbol of fierce medieval justice.
When the New Year’s Eve holidays arrive, the Hauptmarkt is transformed into the most beautiful Christmas market in Europe, called the Christkindlesmarkt. Throughout December, red and white tents are set up, with incredible decorations and numerous food stalls, to enjoy a grilled sausage and accompany it with the necessary mug of beer (or why not a mulled wine with gingerbread cookies).
Nuremberg State Theater
The Opera House is one of the largest theaters in Germany, built between 1903 and 1905, and houses the Nuremberg State Theater (Staatstheater Nürnberg, in German). Ballets, operas and concerts are performed in this sumptuous art nouveau building. It is also home to the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra. It is recommended to be attentive to the programming, since the agenda of shows is very rich and the prices of the tickets are accessible.