Nuremberg, Germany recently celebrated its 950th birthday. (Eat that, Dubai!) My love affair with the Franconian capital and home of sausages, lebkuchen (holiday gingerbread cookies) and Nazi War Crime trials began when I was still a child. My father spent three years of his life (“The best three years,” he sometimes claimed) in the U.S. Army, stationed on a base just a short train/bus ride from Nuremberg.
Although my dad’s Army time was during the height of the Cold War and his station was less than 60 miles from the border with Communist Czechoslovakia, his time in the Army went without incident, the Cuban Missile Crisis call to arms notwithstanding. My dad raved, throughout my childhood, about how much he loved Germany, the German people, and medieval Nuremberg in particular.
I have been to Nuremberg four times, and I always make it a point at some time during each visit to set foot inside St. Sebaldus Church. This jaw-dropping church, built in the 12th century, survived WWII bombing, barely the worse for wear, and remains one of the finest Catholic-turned-Lutheran churches in Europe.
The stained glass windows regale stories from the Bible and add a bit of color to the dark, Gothic church interior.
In my most recent post, I gave a shout out to Nürnberg (German spelling) as playing host to the country’s longest-running, and best, holiday Christkindlesmarkts. The majority of the action takes place in the city’s Marktplatz (Market Square), a hive of activity throughout the year but on a whole ‘nother level during the weeks leading up to Christmas. The picture above shows the market stalls on that rare sunny day, with the Frauenkirche (Church of our Lady) in the background.
The Fraukenkirche was built in the 14th century, on the same ground as a Jewish synagogue which was razed following an outbreak of the plague. The animated Glockenspiel, pictured above, rotates each day at noon to commemorate the election of Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV.
The medieval city center straddles both sides of the River Pegnitz. A series of bridges, many of them for pedestrians only, span the swan-filled river, while weeping willow trees line its banks.
This picture would have been better had I waited for locals to enter the frame. But, as they so often say, hindsight is 20/20.
A cloudy sky gradually gave way to sunshine in the picture above, and it was enough to create a perfect reflection. A person could easily be forgiven for guessing the river scene in question as being Bruges, Belgium or Strasbourg, France.
Wasserturm (Water Tower), central Nuremberg.
Produce market behind die Wasserturm.
Food nirvana: rostbratwurst, Nuremberg’s pint-sized, savory sausages, mit Senf und Kraut. Guten Apetit!
Nuremberg’s Kaiserburg (Castle) sits atop a sandstone hill and overlooks the rest of the Altstadt (Old City). It looks positively medieval in color…
…and perhaps even more medieval when transferred into sepia tone. Which image do you prefer?
Many of Nuremberg’s buildings are even more striking when seen after dark, or when fronted by holiday decorations. This is the Albrecht Dürer House, where the Renaissance artist lived when he painted his masterpiece, “Self Portrait.” His 12 Christ-like self portraits are collectively accredited as being among the first oil paintings of their kind, and the closest print geographically is housed at the Alte Pinakothek Museum in Munich. Note that Dürer’s home received significant Allied bomb damage in 1944.
Despite its Kaiserburg, Albrecht Dürer House, and other points of historic interest, Nuremberg is one of those cities where walking, without any particular destination in mind, can often be the most rewarding kind of sightseeing.
Case in point: an aimless December, 2011 ramble took me past this section of the Berlin Wall. (Gringo included in the frame for a sense of scale.)
Nuremberg’s city walls are almost completely intact, albeit largely rebuilt following WWII strafing. What was once a moat is now a walking path, never better for strolling than on a sunny spring day.
In the opening paragraphs of this post, I mentioned that my fascination with Nuremberg began with my dad’s stories about his time in the U.S. Army. He had mentioned that around that time, the early 1960’s, many German women were widows, and most of them didn’t speak much about the horrors of the war. One such person, the woman in the picture above, became a close friend of our family and still lives in Nuremberg to this day. I call her “Tante Helga” for she is like an aunt to me; she used to send German Deutschmarks to my sister and I in every birthday and Christmas card. I miss you, Tante Helga, and I hope to pay you a visit soon.
One last view of medieval Nuremberg. Here is a toast to you, Nürnberg. Prost!
All pictures were taken with a Nikon DSLR camera. All images are the property of GringoPotpourri unless credited otherwise, and should be used with permission only.