Nuremberg may well be Bavaria's second largest city, but the locals prefer to think of it as the centre of Franconia. The town is usually associated with some of the darkest episodes in German history but contemporary Franconia will force you to see another side to the place. It has a distinctly cosmopolitan feel, and there is something exciting on offer for people of all age groups.
Nuremberg's Altstadt, or Old Town is surrounded by a mighty city-wall that is 5km long. It soon becomes obvious why this city was a favourite with the Romantic Movement. Cobble-stoned squares and half-timbered houses make up the scenery, and the aroma of roasted sausages and gingerbread fill the air. This is also where sights such as
The Seebalder Altstadt, which is also part of the parish that belongs to the
The Lorenzer Altstadt can be found on the other side of the river Pegnitz. It is more commercial, and a fine mix of old and new can be found here. The controversial
If you want to get an overview of the Old Town then head for the castle. Once you've climbed the hill, you'll have access to excellent views.
Egidienviertel and the Eastern Altstadt
The eastern part of the Old Town is often referred to as the Egidienviertel. The 17th century
The Nordstadt (Nuremberg-North) stretches from the northern part of the city-wall to the busy Nordring bypass, with the Bucher and Bayreutherstraße acting as further borders. Although Nuremberg is primarily famous for its medieval architecture, the Nordstadt is living proof that other architectural styles are also part of the city's landscape. Streets like the Pirckheimer and Virchofstraße are particularly illustrative of the villas and bourgeois properties that were favoured from the end of the 19th century onwards. The
St. Johannis lies to the west of the Old City. The area is extremely popular with the middle-classes and anyone who lives here is, generally speaking, not doing badly: there are lots of elegant flats, the Pegnitz is never far away and there are lots of lovely bars and restaurants. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Johannis was popular with the working classes who were employed by the Lyra and Staedler pencil manufacturers. The most popular attraction here is undoubtedly the
If you head in the direction of Fürth (a town next to Nuremberg) from the Plärrer, you will be in Gostenhofen. Like Johannis, this is one of the city's oldest suburbs. It is home to attractions such as the picturesque
The damage caused to the South of Nuremberg during the Second World War meant that during the post war period, the area virtually had to be rebuilt from scratch. Hence, there are only a few examples of pre-war architecture here, some of which can be found around the Wodanstrasse. On a whole, the area cannot be said to have many attractions. Situated in the area behind the Hauptbahnhof (Main Train Station), the Südstadt used to consist of a number of small villages. During the industrial revolution, the area became almost exclusively working class and even today, it is often difficult to distinguish between areas in which people work and those that are residential. Knoblauchsland:
This agricultural area in the high north of the city is fondly described as Nuremberg's Vegetable Garden in local jargon. Recent years have seen numerous businesses move into the area, but despite this trend villages such as Kraftshof and Almoshof have managed to retain their small-scale structures and vegetables such as cabbage, carrots and kohlrabi are still being planted here. During the week, farmers from the Knoblauchsland, which actually means Garlic Land, sell their produce on the
The former Nazi Party Rally grounds cover an area which includes the Dutzendeich lake and Luitpoldhain. From 1933 onwards, the southeastern part of Nuremberg became an architectural guinea-pig, designed to represent Nazi Ideology. Albert Speer, Hitler's favourite architect, was in charge of what became a building project that transformed older buildings such as the Kongreßhalle and created new ones such as the Zeppelin Tribune. Even today, the graying landscape serves to link Nuremberg to the Third Reich. In the post-war period there was much debate on which attitude to adopt to the former Party Rally grounds. In the summer months you can view an exhibition on the city's experiences between 1933 and 1945 (
Langwasser, a small satellite city with approximately 40,000 inhabitants, is the youngest part of Nuremberg. Before the Third Reich it was a vast marshland, but the annual Reichsparteitage (Party Rallies), which involved huge numbers of people, changed all of that. The area, which is near the former Rally grounds, was used as a camping site for participants. This connection to the Nazi era was not easily broken. During the Second World War, Russian POWs were interned here and after 1945, Langwasser became a place of refuge for displaced persons as well as a location in which former Nazis were held. The 1950s saw the city adopt a more pragmatic approach: A competition was held to see who could come up with the most useful plan for developing Langwasser. It was won by an architect called Franz Reichel and today, almost 50 years on, the suburb is still thriving. The Underground means that access to the city center has never been easier for those living here. What was once a natural habitat has become a fully integrated part of the city.
Teetotaling vegetarians beware: Nuremberg could be a tough slog. Beer abounds, as does carcass. Germans are renowned for downing the amber stuff by the metre and a lot of the more traditional restaurants in Nuremberg are littered with kegs of it. Nuremberg's sausages are considered Germany's best.
Tour of the Old Town (Altstadt)
The Altstadt, or Old Town, is the district favoured most by visitors. By 1945, the war had taken its toll with over 90% of the area having been reduced to rubble. By the 1950s, it had been painstakingly rebuilt with extra effort paid to a resurrection in harmony with its original character. Because the Old Town is compact and almost entirely pedestrianized, your feet are truly your best mode of transport. This tour of the core of the city (surrounded by a city wall) has been sectioned into two parts, in the hope of facilitating easy navigation. However, the river Pegnitz also serves to identify the Sebald Quarter and the Lorenz Quarter, each of which is named after its main parish churches.
The Sebalder District
Begin at the lookout point which is between the Castle's Sinnwell Tower and the Youth Hostel. From here, the Old Town stretches out in front and on a clear day, you can see for miles. The steps leading from the castle are met by the foot of the Burgstraße (the Castle Road), which leads directly to the Hauptmarkt (Main Market). Whilst walking down this hill, a beautiful house greets you on your right. Stop to take a look if you have time: this is the Fembohaus, home to the Museum, which was only recently re-opened. Carry on walking and you will soon see the Town Hall to your left, just before the market. The main attraction in the Town Hall is the medieval Mittelalterlichen, Lochgefängnisse ('Hole' prisons), where many a prisoner was tortured. They can be viewed as part of a guided tour.
A right turn at the foot of the Rock on which the castle stands will bring you to the heart of the castle district, via the Ölberg. The square at the end of this lane is the Tiergärtnertorplatz. This cobble-stoned arena is a favourite meeting-point, especially in the summer months and you can often spot lively goings on here, with the odd busker providing live music. The half-timbered house opposite the Gate in the city wall is the Albrecht Dürerhaus. A master painter and epitome of Renaissance Man type, Dürer once lived here with his wife Agnes. Next walk down the Bergstraße, a small winding street that is home to many an antique shop and the Wirtschaft Zum Sudhaus restaurant. This is an upmarket venue and Germany's former Chancellor wined and dined France's President Jaques Chirac here. At the end of the Bergstraße stands the city's original parish church, the Church of St. Seebald. Concerts are staged throughout the year, especially during the International Organ Week.
Heading away from the main entrance, about 150 metres out, you will spot a lane called the Weißgerbergasse. During medieval times, the area's picturesque half-timbered houses were inhabited by artisans. Walk to the end of the lane and you will see the river Pegnitz, spanned by the Kettensteg. To get to the Hauptmarkt, turn left and walk straight ahead.
Should you walked along the side of the church, you will find yourself opposite the Town Hall. A right turn brings you to the Hauptmarkt, featuring attractions such as Nuremberg's main Catholic Church, the Church of Our Lady. During Advent, the market is bursting at the seams with people from all over the globe. Why? Because of the world-famous Christkindlesmarkts.
The Lorenz District
Now walk away from the Hauptmarkt, pass the Church of Our Lady towards the river Pegnitz and cross the Museumsbrücke (Museum Bridge). If you look to the left you can enjoy a beautiful view of the Heilig Geist Spital, which is partly built over the river. Once a hospital, it today houses a restaurant known for its fine, regional cuisine. Once you have crossed the bridge, you can turn left and walk beside the river, leading to the Katharinenruine, the CineCitta and the Natural History Museum.
Further on lies a lively square, flanked by the Lorenzkirche, from which the district takes its name. This is the commercial focal point of the city. Right of the church's main entrance, the Tugendbrunnen stands next to a large tower-like 13th century house: the Nassauer Haus. This is the city's oldest private house. Fancy a spot of shopping? Head towards the Karolinenstraße or the Breite Gasse, Nuremberg's two main pedestrianised streets. Those keen to learn of Germany's history and culture, should turn left by the main entrance of the church and walk along the Pfannenschmiedgasse.
Eventually, a distinctive building known as the Mauthalle (former medieval Customs headquarters) will come into view, as will the Hallplatz. Walk across this square until you reach the Kornmarkt. This is the site of the Germanic National Museum. Even if museums are not your cup of tea, do take a good look at the architecture from the main foyer and stroll along the Straße der Menschenrechte (Path of Human Rights). The Kornmarkt leads onto the Schumacherstraße (the right side of the forked road) which in turn meets the Jakobsplatz. Here, two very different churches, the Protestant Church of St. Jakob and the Catholic St. Elisabeth stand opposite each other.
This is the end of our tour through the Old Town. There is plenty to see and if you get lost along the way, don't hesitate to ask one of the friendly and helpful locals. Once you've glanced down at the Old Town from the Castle, you'll gain a good idea of Nuremberg's layout. The area within the city walls really isn't that big and you can also use the two main parish churches' steeples as guiding points.
The Former Nazi Party Rally Grounds
To get to this area take Tram number 9 to Luitpoldhain, the last stop. There is also an interesting exhibition known as Fascination and Terror (Fazination und Gewalt) which serves to illustrate Nuremberg's connection with the Hitler era. Guided tours of the Former Nazi Party Rally Grounds run between April and November. Each tour lasts about 2 hours and is very informative. You should, however, note that most of these are in German and as such can be quite challenging to someone not fluent in the language.
If you want to be adventurous, then contact the Fliegerclub, an aviation club that organises aerial tours of Nuremberg and its surrounding regions. What better way to get an overview than from the air?
Tours Nuernberg (+ 09122 86782 / http://www.tours-nuernberg.de/)
History for All (+0911 307360 / http://www.geschichte-fuer-alle.de/)
Bavaria's second largest city is full of things to do at all times of the day and throughout the year. If you want to be up to date with what's going on once you're in Nuremberg, buy a copy of the 'Plärrer', the city's main magazine.
The biggest annual event is of course the Christkindlesmarkt, which is one of the oldest Christmas markets. It attracts people from all over the world, as does the Toy Trade Fair. In the summer, the city is especially charming and events such as the Altstadtfest (Festival of the Old Town) and the Bardentreffen highlight its historic feel. If you're into sports, then why not visit during the Cycle Rally or the Norisringrennen?
Theatre and Dance
The Städtische Bühnen are the city's main meeting point for culture, with most dance performances taking place in the Opera house. The plays that are staged here range from classic to modern. There are also a host of excellent fringe and independent theatres, the most famous of which is no doubt the Gostner Hoftheater. The performances at the Burgtheater, the small Altstadthofbühne and the Theater Pfütze are also very popular.
Opera and Classical Music
Nuremberg is not known as having an operatic traditon as such, but the quality of opera here is still very high. The main venue is the Opernhaus, which is part of the Städtische Bühnen. The Pocket Opera Company has also become famous in recent years for its innovative approach to opera and the company often stages modern pieces. The biggest annual event for classical music fans is the Internationale Orgelwoche and a range of splendid concerts can also be visited at the Tafelhalle.
Rock, Pop and Jazz
The ruins of the St. Katharina monastery provide the perfect backdrop for concerts in the summer. Most of the artists who display their talents during the programme of events are representatives of the jazz, cabaret and classical scenes and greats such as Tim Fischer and Ladysmith Black Mombazo have performed here. Jazz is the centre of attention during the East-West Jazz Festival and live music can also be heard at the Starclub. When a really famous group, such as the Rolling Stones, comes to town, the Frankenstadion is usually the venue.
Museums and Galleries
The city's most renowned museum is the Germanic National Museum in the Lorenz Quarter. It's fascinating, focusing primarily on German history and culture, and should most definitely be incorporated into any schedule. To learn more about the city, visit the Town Museum. The Transport Museum and the Toy Museum are especially enjoyable for children. Nuremberg's patrician past is brought to life in Tucher's Little Castle and the Neunhof Castle. Fans of modern art and design should not miss the Neues Museum für Kunst und Design, or the Kunsthalle.
Today's cinematic landscape is dominated by the CineCitta Multiplex, which has no less than ten cinemas plus a host of restaurants and shops. There are, however, also other large cinemas such as the Admiral situated in the Old Town. The Roxy Cinema has more of an art-house feel to it and often screens smaller-budget films. The Drive In Cinema (Autokino) in the northern part of the city is popular in the summer and if you're after foreign language films, the Roxy is for you.
Nightlife and Live Music
If you thought heavy metal and rock was declining in popularity, then you obviously haven't been to Nuremberg recently. The Rockfabrik is dedicated to airing this kind of music but don't despair, house or hip-hop fans are also catered for. The huge Planet Dance is a favorite. For an intimate, more upmarket night out, do as the locals and spend an evening in the Viper Room, If you want to see up and coming bands, visit the Starclub. If you're in the city during the summer, then an unmissable event is Rock in Park, a three day music festival. It is necessary to buy tickets in advance for this event.
Parks and Leisure
The City Park is not a vast leisure area, but is popular nonetheless, particularly with families. It is beautifully landscaped, but like all parks, it should be avoided after dark. The Volkspark Marienberg is an expansive outdoor area which is especially popular with families. The locals come here to cycle, run and in the summer, people meet up to have a barbeque. Children and adults alike enjoy visiting the Zoological Garden and the Planetarium.