Our next stop in our German tour is the beautiful old city of Nuremberg. Sightseeing tours here are quite common for two reasons: one is history. The city was once backdrop for the headquarters of the Nazi party, so there is a significant amount of cultural reference to be absorbed. The second is the Nuremberg Christmas market, the biggest and most popular of all those in Germany. I was lucky enough to enjoy Nuremberg during the Christmas market and was blown away by the crowds, the buzz, and the excitement. Let’s explore some ideas for your own Nuremberg sightseeing adventure.
The Old City
Your Nuremberg sightseeing will likely either begin or end in the medieval city centre – a compact area full of things to see. Many of the old city walls are still intact, so you’ll definitely know when you’re in the historic part or not. Two sights that I enjoyed the most:
- Nuremberg Castle: It towers over the city and is a great place to be just before sunset. The layers of rooms and architecture feel jumbled but somehow it all works.
- Albrecht Dürer’s House: Dürer was a a famous German painter, and you might recognise some of his works while visiting the house restored to the condition when he painted here. Insightful look into life during this period.
There’s also a medieval dungeon and torture museum (underneath city hall), a transport museum perfect for railway lovers, and like any self-respecting medieval village, a bustling shopping district.
As I mentioned, Nuremberg is (in)famous for being home to the German Nazi Party and it is here where the party build its rallying grounds just before the start of WWII. Regardless of your feelings about the Nazi Party, I strongly encourage you to visit the rallying grounds, as they offer a powerful lesson and insight into the success that Hilter had in wielding his influence. These magnificent buildings (still amazing despite a lack of maintenance and ongoing vandalism) were not built to be functional: they were built to overwhelm. They’re the most impressive edifices since the Romans, and the obvious plan was to put on such a good show you couldn’t help but want to follow along.
The on-site museum called the Documentation Centre, is an interesting building (architecturally speaking), though some of the exhibits I felt were lacking. Be sure to grab an audio headset for the full experience. You’ll need a couple of hours at least to explore the grounds, considering the size of these buildings. It’s on the outskirts of town – tram 9 takes you straight there.
When in Germany, drink beer Actually, I’m not kidding – the breweries in the city have some of the best eats and some even serve up beers brewed in/around Nuremberg. Sightseeing all day means you’ll need the energy and calories for these gut-busting comfort foods – the most popular items are the famous Nuremberg sausage (yum!), lebkuchen (kind of like gingerbread but softer – yum!), and, Uhm, beer (yum!). Some recommended restaurants in Nuremberg:
- Barfüßer: This is one of the more well-known beer halls, but I love it because you can get your own mini-keg delivered to the table. They also have some of their own brands, and the food is to die for. Seriously – it’s so filling you’ll feel like dying. A must-taste.
- Heilig-Giest-Spital: Worth going for just to see the venue. It’s in a very historic building on the river, and it’s gorgeous both inside and out.
- Alte Küche: Again, great food, GORGEOUS venue.
Nuremberg’s Christmas market is a feast for all the senses: there’s the smell of fresh home cooking, the taste of chocolates and gingerbread, the sights of bells and baubles, and the clinking sounds of mugs and steins. Utterly incredible – save room in your suitcase for compulsive shopping.
You don’t have to come for Christmas to enjoy the market, and the market certainly isn’t the only thing to do if you are here in December. Keep in mind the market is VERY crowded – do your shopping in the early afternoon, and if you’re claustrophobic, then I’d suggest having a meal at a pub instead. Though pop by for some photo opportunities at least – the Old City never looked better.