World Facts Index > Germany > Nuremberg

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 Alstadt, 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, 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 Dürerhaus are to be found and in the festive season, thousands of people from all over the world visit the famous Christkindlesmarkt on the Hauptmarkt. The city of Nuremberg expanded on both banks of the river Pegnitz and because of this, the Old Town is often divided into the Seebald-quarter and the Lorenz-quarter, both of which are named after the two main parish churches. To the outsider, the two quarters may appear to be two sides of the same coin but appearances are deceptive. Each has its own distinct character.

The Seebalder Altstadt, which is also part of the parish that belongs to the St.Sebaldus-Kirche has always been the more affluent of the two. The impressive Kaiserburg and attractions such as the municipal museum (Stadtmuseum im Fembohaus) are a favourite with tourists and the old artisan's lane the Weißgerbergasse make people think of Nuremberg's medieval standing.

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 Ehekarussell-Brunnen, which depicts the bittersweet nature of marriage and the magnificent Lorenzkirche (built around 1270) are surrounded by modern buildings. If you are interested in German History and Culture, visit the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, a site that is devoted to these subjects.

If you want to get an overview of the Old Town then head for the castle. Once you have climbed the hill, you 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 Egidienkirche, which is Nuremberg's only baroque-style church, is the focal point of this quarter. Once upon a time, this area was favoured by some of the city's richest and most influential citizens but looking at the area today, you would not think it. The air raids during 1945 causes such extensive damaged that what was one of the most historic parts of Nuremberg became a mere field of rubble. The 17th century Pellerhaus which was once admired throughout Germany hints at how luxurious the area used to be. In contrast to attitude adopted towards the main bulk of the Altstadt, the post-war period here did not give rise to the same amount of effort to rebuild.


The Nordstadt (Nuremberg-North) stretches from the northern part of the city-wall to the busy Nordring bypass and the Bucher and Bayreutherstraße act 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 Stadtpark is also in this part of town and restaurants like the Frankenstube add to the Nordstadt's joie de vivre.

St. Johannis

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 century, 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 Johannisfriedhof. This is where greats such as the artist Albrecht Dürer and the Humanist Willibald Pirckheimer are buried and it is one of Europe's most important medieval burial grounds. Despite the affluent nature of St. Johannis today, its beginnings were less elegant. In the late middle ages, lepers and invalids found refuge here. Today, many locals like to stroll along the picturesque stretches of the Pegnitz and the Hesperidengärten in the Johannistraße are beautiful gardens in which to relax.


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 Rochusfriedhof (which is very similar to Johannisfriedhof cemetry), the Planetarium and the successful Gostner Hoftheater . To many, this is the one of the liveliest parts of Nuremberg, this being not least due to the fact that it is also the most ethnically diverse. Gostenhof is a thriving example of multiculturalism at work. Many Gastarbeiter (Guest Workers) found their first home away from home here and today, many different nationalities live here. The district was increasingly influenced by the effects of the industrial age after 1900 and in 1835, Germany's first railway station was built here. From an architectural viewpoint, many of the houses here still date from the beginning of the 20th and late 19th century and you can find some splendid examples of the Willhelmine style of building. The main reason for this is that this part of the city was still fairly intact by 1945.


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 built 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.


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 Hauptmarktand during the asparagus season, everyone tries to get their hands on some fresh white asparagus from the region. One of the most popular attractions in the area is the former patrician castle Neunhofer Schlößchen, and the Irrhain, which is a sort of maze that belongs to the Pegnesian Order of Flowers (a literary society) is also very attractive. For people living in Nuremberg, the Knoblauchsland serves as a leisure area, in which they often go cycling of running. The airport is also situated here.

Dutzendeich, Luitpoldhain and the former Reichsparteitagsgelände

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 the project and what followed was a building project that transformed older buildings such as the Kongreßhalle and created new ones such as the Zeppelin Tribune. Even today, the greying 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 (Fazination und Gewalt) and the area as a whole is today used as a recreation ground. The 1 FC Nürnberg (the city's football team) is also at home here: they play home matches in the modern Frankenstadion and are affectionately called the Club by the locals.


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 meant that the area, which is near the former Rally grounds (see above) was used as a camping site for participants. The connections to the Nazi era were 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 centre has never been easier for those living here. What was once a natural habitat has become a fully integrated part of the city.

History of Nuremberg

The history of Nuremberg is one in which both the fortunes and the misfortunes of German history can be readily traced. This is a city that has been called everything from The Treasure Chest of the German Empire to the City of the Nazi Party Rallies. Throughout the year 2000, festivities are being held to celebrate the city's 950th anniversary. Archeologists have concluded that there were pockets of settlers in the area from the prehistoric age onwards, but it was not until 1050 that Nourenberc (rocky mountain) was first mentioned in an official document by Emperor Henry III.

The Staufer dynasty did much to contribute to the fact that Nuremberg became an increasingly important location within the German Empire and they held many Reichstage (imperial parliaments) here. It was in the Kaiserburg (Castle), which today still towers above the city, that many of the intrigues surrounding the emperors took place. In 1219, Emperor Frederick II gave the city the imperial title. This not only brought numerous economic advantages, but also ensured that Nuremberg was subject only to the emperors, not to any other princes.

Nuremberg is not situated near a big river or the sea yet despite its geographical location, it managed to become one of the most important medieval trading and craftsmanship towns. In part, this is due to the fact that some of the most important trading routes intersected here and further, there was no city equal in stature in the surrounding area. In 1356, the town received a further accolade: the so-called Golden Bull stated that new kings were obliged to hold their first parliamentary session in Nuremberg. Architecturally, this was an epoch in which the famous Hauptmarkt (Main Market), the beautiful Church of Our Lady, the Beautiful Fountain and the Old Town Hall were built.

In keeping with its special standing in the eyes of the successive emperors, Emperor Sigismund decreed that the imperial jewels were henceforth to be kept in Nuremberg. They remained in the city until the late 18th century. This era is also saw Nuremberg reach its cultural climax. Some of the city's favourite sons, including the painter Albrecht Dürer, the Humanist Willibald Pirckheimer and the mason Adam Kraft lived at this time and their work was praised throughout Europe.

As ecstatic as Nuremberg's cultural heyday was, its downfall was all the more tragic. Repeated outbreaks of the plague and the adoption of Martin Luther's Reformation alienated the Royal Family from what was their favourite city for 500 years. Moreover, despite remaining neutral during the 30-years war, Nuremberg continued to decline, with up to 40,000 of its citizens perishing because of starvation and other effects of the conflict.

The next formative period in the region was initiated by Napoleon. After defeating Prussia and Austria in 1806, he rewarded his ally Bavaria by annexing Bamberg, Würzburg, Ansbach and Nuremberg to its territory. Nuremberg, which had once been the foremost of imperial city's was reduced in status to become a mere province. For the Franconians, this was a heavy blow and the fact that they had to forsake their civic privileges for Bavarian State law was a difficult adjustment.

The onset of an industrial age turned out to be a blessing for Nuremberg and in 1835, the first steam train made its way from Nuremberg to the neighbouring town of Fürth. A few years later, the Germanic National Museum opened its doors. One of its most popular exhibits is the Behaim-globe. It was made in the city by Maritn Behaim in 1492 - the year Columbus discovered America. Over the course of the 19th century the Franconian metropolis became a favourite with the Romantics. As with those that advocated Pan-Germanism, followers of this movement saw the picturesque medieval town, which is surrounded by a city wall, as symbolising all that was to be admired in German culture, it reminded them of a period in history that was never to be repeated. Wagner also composed The Master Singers as a tribute to the city.

In the first half of the 20th century, Nuremberg again acquired national and international recognition, yet the circumstances surrounding its status are not the most favourable. In 1933, Nuremberg was christened The City of the Nazi Party Rallies. For Nazis such as Adolf Hitler, this was a town which had been connected to some of the most significant developments in German history, not least the former German Empire and patriotic sentiment. The increasingly hostile political atmosphere and the presence of one Julius Streicher, who was the Gau-Leader and Editor of Der Stürme (The Stormtrooper) also caused many members of the Jewish Community in the region to emigrate. The republican, civic tradition that along with a degree of liberalism had characterised Nuremberg previously, did not prove strong enough to resist the rise of National Socialism.

The allied bombing raids of World War Two took their toll on the city and by 1945, over 90% of the historic Old Town had been reduced to ash and rubble. After Dresden, this was the German city that was most heavily destroyed and moreover, Nuremberg's status in the Third Reich meant that it was also the scene of the War Crimes Trials. With hindsight, it can be said that the post-war period has seen many positive initiatives. The Old Town was painstakingly rebuilt and today, it helps tourism in the region flourish as people from all over the world come to savour its medieval aspects. The city's inhabitants have further worked together to develop their social and economic infrastructure, as well as the satellite city of Langwasser. Projects such as the building of an airport and an underground railway system have also helped the city's image. At the beginning of the 21st century, Nuremberg is a city with a population of half a million people. Tradition and progress and the old and the new are finely balanced, creating an atmosphere that cannot be found anywhere else in Germany.


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