I hope everyone who celebrates Christmas had a W O N D E R F U L time with family and friends! My husband and I spent Christmas in Munich with my cousin and his wife. We had a lovely Christmas Eve dinner at a traditional German restaurant in town, followed by a walk through the city, watching Christmas movies, and opening gifts. Munich is so quiet during Christmas. A couple of years ago, we were in Berlin and it was lively and business as usual. But here, the city really shuts down and there’s a peaceful stillness all around.
Today I am sharing the next mini-guide in my mini-series “6 Hours In…”. Nuremberg, it’s your turn to shine, baby! I’ve been to Nuremberg a couple of times and it really is a charming city full of so much history.
Nuremberg resides in the Northern Bavarian region of Germany, north of Munich. It’s the perfect city for a day trip from Munich due to it’s close proximity and rich history. The city is famous for Christmas, seriously! Gingerbread treats and handcrafted toys have been Nuremberg’s “bread and butter” from the beginning. Known as the “Gingerbread Capital” of the World, it’s especially festive during the Christmas season.
Another role in Nuremberg’s history revolves around World War 2. Due to it’s central location in Germany, Hitler chose the city as the site for his many Nazi Party Rallies. During the Battle of Nuremberg, the majority of the city was destroyed. Although some building were restored to their pre-war appearance, about half were lost forever. Nuremberg again came into the headlines after the war had ended. It’s the location of the infamous Nuremberg Trials (1945-1946), in which German officials were on trial for Nazi war-crimes.
Today, Nuremberg is a desirable city to visit. It’s beautiful medieval architecture, robust history, and endless options for exploration make it a must-see on any Germany holiday.
DISTANCE FROM MUNICH
- 1 hour 45 minute drive
- 1 hour train
Everything in the old city is close together, making it easy to see a lot in a short amount of time. For these “mini-guides”, I recommend having six hours to see everything listed. Of course, it’s up to you how long you spend at each spot. While most of these spots can be seen rather quickly, I recommend planning at least 2 hours for the first spot on this list, the Nazi Documentation Center/Rally Grounds. I’ve also listed the sites in the order in which I recommend you visit them, based on the city layout.
DOCUMENTATION CENTER NAZI PARTY RALLY GROUNDS
The Documentation Center Rally Grounds are a public museum housed in the Congress Hall of the former grounds of the Nazi Rallies. Overflowing with contextual information of the consequences of National Socialism, the museum takes a hard look at the propaganda used by the Nazi Party. Photographs, illustrations, and special exhibits provide a look back at the history of WW2, Germany, and the Nazi’s reign of terror. Expect to spend a minimum of 2-hours here. It’s a bit outside of the old city, but with public transportation it’s quite accessible, about a 25-minute tram ride.
The Nuremberg Castle consists of multiple medieval buildings, including the Palas, Imperial Chapel, and various towers. It’s believed the first structure within the fortification was built around 1000 A.D. and continued to see growth over the next few hundred years.
After the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) ended, it fell out of use, only to be revived in 1936 for Hitler’s Nazi Party Rally. Of course, the castle had its share of damage during WW2 air raids, leaving it in ruins. It took over 30 years for the restorations to be completed after the war had ended.
Today the Nuremberg Castle is available to tour and there is no charge to access the grounds, which provide breathtaking views of Nuremberg’s Altstadt below. To tour the Palas, Chapels, museum, well, and towers, there is a charge. Combination tickets are available and children under 18 and students are always free.
Craftmen’s Court is considered a hidden gem in Nuremberg’s old city. It resides right along the old fortress wall, complete with tower and half timbered buildings, but is somehow often overlooked. In the court, there are many shops and studios still producing goods, such as handmade glass art.
The Nuremberg Hauptmarkt is the central square and heart of the old city. Here lies many of Nuremberg’s most sacred landmarks. The Schoner Brunnen, Frauenkirche, and the famed Nuremberg Christmas Market are just a few of the Hauptmark’s gems. The area is incredibly walkable no matter the time of year. Many restaurants, bars, and shop line the square.
NURNBERGER CHRISTMAS MARKET
Dating back to the 16th century, Nuremberg’s Christmas Market is one of the originals. Many German Christmas traditions have risen out of Nuremberg.
The Rauschgoldengel, or golden angel, originated in Nuremberg. She is the image of Nuremberg’s Christmas Markets and hangs high above, keeping watch over the festivities. Legend says she was created by a doll-maker during the Thirty Years War as people were looking for beauty during a trying time of violence.
Prune-men are a comical yet thoughtful staple found in the market. It’s believed they were invented by a man in the 18th century, wanting to gift his children, but only having prunes and wire for supplies. That’s right.. these Prune-men are made simply of prunes, wire, and a walnut head. Of course today they come in a variety of attire (some naked) and specialties; kissing couples, devils, and musicians to name a few. For anyone who brings home a Prune-man, their life is said to be blessed, “With a prune man in your house, money and happiness stay, too”.
Of course, as Nuremberg is the “Gingerbread Capital” of the world, there are plenty of stands offering Germany’s famous Lebekuchen. Gluhwein, brats and other popular German specialties are in abundance. The market is a truly special place to spend an afternoon.
The Schoner Brunnen is a 14th century fountain in main square. It’s one of Nuremberg’s most famous attractions. The bright colors and shining-golden details make it a feast for the eyes.
The Frauenkirche is a stunning example of gothic brick architecture. It was built between 1352 and 1362. In front of the church during the Christmas season, a stage is set up for performances and visits from the Christkind herself. A little fun-fact, the Christkind was Luther’s answer to the Catholic’s St. Nick. He believed Christmas should bring attention to Christ, so he created the Christkind, or “Christ Child” to be the gift-giver, and moved the celebration date from December 6th, St. Nicholas Day, to December 24, Christmas Eve, in celebration of Christ’s birth.
CHURCH OF ST. LORENZ AND CHURCH OF ST. SEBALDUS
Within a minutes walk from the Hauptmarkt are the last two items on the itinerary; the church of St. Lorenz Church and St. Sebaldus. While they are in opposite directions of one another, they both can be reached in under a 5-minute walk.
Nuremberg has so many amazing sites to offer. Ideally, I recommend staying two days and one night as a minimum. However, as I’ve said before, I’m also a big believer of seeing what you can in the time you have.
I can’t believe 2017 is coming to a close in just a few shorts days. Have a wonderful (and safe) time ringing in 2018 with your loved-ones, or maybe on a new adventure! I’ll see YOU next year!!
What are you doing for New Years?!