Nuremberg’s Golden Age and Darker History


Amsterdam to Budapest River Cruise – Avalon Waterways – Day 8
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Frauenkirche in Nuremberg Marktplatz

Our Nuremberg city tour was another early morning start…grumble, grumble! Nuremberg enjoyed its Golden Age in the late Middle Ages and its rich historical heritage can be seen in the many monuments and landmarks in and around town. However, our sightseeing this morning began with the darker side of Nuremberg’s history, when Nuremberg was the “City of the Nazi Party Rallies”.

Nuremberg’s Darkest Past

We were to visit the Zeppelin Field, a deployment area which was part of a complex of structures that made up this once famous Nazi Party rally grounds. This was where the Nazi Party held six of their massive propaganda rallies between 1933 and 1938.

When we arrived at the Zeppelin Field, we were most disappointed. The area had been cordoned off for a rally of a different kind – there was to be a motorcycle race later on in the day and all we could do was drive around the area and view the Zeppelin Field from our coach.

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Distant view of the Zeppelin Field

From a distance, the concrete grandstand above didn’t look menacing at all today. But take a look at the old black and white photos of the rallies, with the grounds totally covered by a hundred thousand or so soldiers and workers that were gathered here, it would have been a worrying sight for anyone who didn’t agree with Hitler’s politics.

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Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-C12701 / CC-BY-SA

From the Zeppelin Field we went on to the Palace of Justice. Nuremberg was a city that the Nazi Party chose to hold their mass propaganda rallies and conventions and hence it was thought to be an appropriate location to hold the trials for the war crimes. As we stood in the cool morning temperature in front of Courtroom 600, our guide described some of the courtroom scenes of the Nuremberg Trials. The stories of Nazi atrocities were spine-chilling and the cold morning air added to our goosebumps as well.

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Courtroom 600 at the Palace of Justice

Nuremberg Hauptmarkt

We next went into the market square where a giant soccer ball stood out like a sore thumb against the medieval backdrop of Nuremberg’s Hauptmarkt. Nuremberg was one of the 12 host cities in Germany for the FIFA World Cup and it worried us that this beautiful town square might suffer from soccer hooliganism.

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Schöner Brunnen – Beautiful Fountain

A most striking church facade in the Hauptmarkt is the Gothic Frauenkirche (Church of our Lady). This was built as an imperial royal chapel and if you want to the see seven Electors paying homage to Emperor Karl IV on the throne, the glockenspiel plays at noon every day.

Another beautiful attraction on the Hauptmarkt is the Schöner Brunnen, and a beautiful fountain it is.

The four rows of stone figures are allegorical figures representing the world-view of the Holy Roman Empire, but the feature that attracts most tourists is the small ring on the railing. We were told that if we spun it three times we would have good luck bestowed upon us…and who wouldn’t wish for good luck! The black ring has now been replaced with a brass ring to make it more easily visible for visitors.

Nuremberg’s Other Attractions

Nuremberg is also a town that’s famous for its gingerbread and in the town square is a Gingerbread (Lebkuchen) shop dating back to 1610. Gingerbread has been produced in Nuremberg for over 600 years.

After our guided tour we had an hour of free time to explore the town on our own and we went across the Pegnitz River. We followed the twin steeples of St Lorenzkirche to Lorenzer Platz. Facing the church is Karolinenstrasse which is a pedestrian mall lined with shops, shopping centres, cafes and restaurants.

Our visit to Nuremberg was a very short one and it was obvious that there was a whole lot more to see in this town and all we had was a small taste of it. Hopefully good luck will be bestowed upon us and we will return to this historical and charming city.

More information on Nuremberg here: Nuremberg Info-briefing

Photos of Nuremberg: Nuremberg Photo Gallery

Next page: Continental Divide

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