Episode 94 – Postcards from Nuremberg

NOTE: These travel pictures are from travels prior to us becoming nomadic in 2018. Like most of the world, we are staying put right now until the threat from COVID19 is either over or preventable via a vaccine.

Nuremberg. What a varied and tumultuous history this city has: northern capital of the Holy Roman Empire; site of 14th century pogroms and plagues; centre of the German Renaissance; home of arts, literature, (and Albrecht Dürer); site of Nazi rallies, and later the Nuremberg trials; famous for its architecture, industry, and Christmas markets. Although we only had a single day here on our river cruise, we were prepared for it to be a very full one.

Based on our previous tours, consisting of small groups of around a dozen people with a local guide, we were looking forward to getting a German’s perspective of Nuremberg. Unfortunately, although our assigned guide was extremely knowledgeable, he was an American ex-pat who had lived in the city for 20 plus years since ending his military career, and his commentary seemed more North American than German-centric. Nonetheless, we certainly saw a lot and learned a lot.

In January 1945 about 90% of Nuremberg’s beautiful mediaeval city centre was destroyed by Allied bombs. Most has been reconstructed. Unfortunately, or perhaps ironically, Hitler’s unfinished coliseum-style congress hall, built to hold 50,000 people and be used just once per year for a speech by a megalomaniac, was not destroyed, and has been left standing in its unfinished state as a reminder of what can go wrong if power is allowed to grow unfettered. (If you’re interested, there is a May 2019 article from The Smithsonian that talks about Nuremberg’s decision to preserve the “monstrosity” Nuremberg Decides to Conserve Nazi Rally Grounds | Smart News | Smithsonian Magazine) Our guide would clearly have preferred the edifice to have been razed. Ted and I could understand leaving it there to decay. I would have liked a Nuremberger’s viewpoint.

Away from the ugliness of the city’s more recent history, there is much beauty. The magnificent Gothic-style Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady), built in the decade between 1352 and 1362, towers over the main marketplace. Only the nave and the facade are original, the rest having been completely destroyed during the war; we found it astounding that it had been completely restored by 1953, with more restoration occurring around 1990. This church square is the site of one of Germany’s largest and most famous Christmas Markets, which we hope to visit once international travel is again possible.

The Schöner Brunnen (lovely fountain) was built in the main market square in the 14th century, and designed to look like a Gothic spire, around 60 feet (19 metres) tall. Almost hidden in the ornate metalwork, which includes 40 very colourful figures, are two small brass rings; turn one 3 times and your wish will be granted. It will come as no surprise that I wished to return to Nuremberg – there is so much that we didn’t see.

St. Lorenz Church, completed around 1477, is also in the Gothic style (below)

… and the eastern facade of St. Sebaldus, showing its Romanesque details. Again, there is a market going on around the church, a tradition dating back to times when the church really was the centre of the community.

(above) A view of the Sinwellturm (Sinwell Tower) of the medieval Imperial Castle of Nuremberg. This tower, and the castle’s chapel, are the only original portions of the castle. Everything else was damaged in World War II and later restored. The oldest portions of the fortifications dated back to 1027 AD – the Sinwell Tower itself was built in the 1200’s…

… followed in the 1300’s by the Luginsland and Pentagonal towers in another part of the Imperial Castle complex.

From the heights of the castle, we could see the city spread out below us.

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