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Nuremberg. Layers of fascinating history

Nuremberg is the city that Hitler once dubbed as the “most German of German cities.” While the source of the quote is unflattering, certainly it is an apt description of Nuremberg.

Nuremberg, or as it is called in German, Nürnberg,is a large city in central south Germany.  It’s the second-largest city in the state of Bavaria, and centrally-located within the Franconia administrative region.  

Some half a million people call Nuremberg home, with the larger metro area housing around 3.5 million citizens.  While Nuremberg may be best known in the West as the site of the Nuremberg trials following World War II, that’s really just a footnote in the history of the city. 

City of Nuremberg

 There are so many things to do in Nuremberg, and much to see for tourists and locals alike.  Today, Nuremberg is known as a center for education, industry, energy, medical technology, and consumer goods. 

 It also retains much of its old world charm, often being cited as an example of a quintessentially German city for its faithfully reconstructed Bavarian village styling. 

History of Nuremberg, Germany

The area of modern-day Nuremberg was likely settled sometime between 5,000 and 2,000 BC, based on the prevailing history of the region.  The first mention of Nuremberg as a city, however, isn’t found until 1050 AD.  

Its importance as a hub for trade and administration grew throughout the Middle Ages.  Many historians and texts consider it the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire, as it was the seat of the Imperial Diet, who met at Nuremberg Castle.  

Various wars and changes in leadership both internal and external to the Holy Roman Empire resulted in the city becoming one of the largest in the Empire by the 1500s.

Interestingly, in addition to being a center of trade, the city developed a reputation as a center of culture and literature, and played an important role throughout the Renaissance years.  

Trade began to decline, and the costs of conflict began to take their toll on the city.  It was conquered by the Swedish and attacked by the Romans during the Thirty Years’ War. 

Nuremberg’s role continued to decline until the 1800s, when it regained much of its former stature as a modern industrial hub.  The city was nominally independent, but handed over to the Bavarian state in 1806, being made part of Middle Franconia in 1838, and later the German nation.  

Despite significant damage from Allied bombing in World War II, a large portion of the city was restored to its pre-war state in the late 1940s and 1950s, adhering to the medieval style that dominated the landscape.

Attractions and Things to Do in the city

There are tons of things to do in Nuremberg, from historical and cultural attractions to amusement parks, indoor sporting activities, and even culinary tourism.  

It’s a popular destination for foreign tourists, and popular within Germany for local travel as well.  Some of the most popular things to do in Nuremberg are highlighted below – but there’s much, much more to explore on your trip to Nuremberg!

  • Nuremberg Castle, once-home to the Imperial Diet of the Holy Roman Empire, and perhaps the most famous of the historical buildings in Nuremberg.
  • Lorenz Church, medieval era church that was heavily restored in medieval style after damage from World War II.
  • Nuremberg Nazi Trial grounds and associated exhibits.
  • Numerous themed tours throughout the city, both on foot and in vehicles, during the day or at night, with a wide variety of lengths, content, and more.
  • Nuremberg International Toy Fair.
  • Much of the Old Town is pedestrian-only, with lots of shops, in the traditional medieval village style.
  • Nuremberg is home to Germany’s largest Christmas Market every year in the Old Town. It’s also considered the gingerbread capital of the world.
  • Dozens of museums, art galleries, and other exhibitions, including the German culture museum known as Germanisches Nationalmuseum, the Modern Art Museum, Nuremberg Toy Museum, and many more.
  • Multiple performing arts venues including the Nuremberg State Theater and Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra, along with performances and events throughout the year.
  • The Nuremberg Zoo, tons of parks and outdoor and indoor sports and entertainment venues, pools and spas, and 6 separate amusement parks (including a dinosaur park).
  • Culinary tours and events at the dozens of restaurants throughout the city covering traditional German cooking and more contemporary and exotic cuisine alike.

Another German city, badly damaged in WWII but certainly worthy of visiting, is Wurzburg, Germany. More correctly, with the German spelling and the umlaut (the 2 dots above the letter) Würzburg. A really interesting and attractive town with the world famous Prince Bishops residenz. 

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