Day 15 Nürnberg

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August 25th 2019
Published: August 25th 2019
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It is a gorgeous morning just as my weather app promised. I am very much looking forward to the day as I have lots of plans of things to see in Nürnberg. Firstly, I enjoy a fabulous breakfast in the third-floor breakfast room of the Hotel Central. They have a terrace up here with amazing views over the old city. I am meeting our local guide, Claudia, at 10.30 for a coffee in the Hauptmarkt - whilst she has a break with the group that she is guiding today. This is extremely kind of her and really helpful for me. I have plenty of time before our meeting and want to use this time to walk the city walls. The weather is just lovely - not too hot, but warm, sunny and great for walking. It is apparently approximately five kilometres to walk the entire city walls.

My hotel is so close to both the Hauptmarkt and the river Pegnitz. I criss-cross over some delightful bridges and join the city walls at Hallentor and start walking clockwise. Therefore, for the next hour or so everything on my right is the Old Town inside the city walls and everything on my left is outside the city walls and looks really modern. Nürnberg is fairly unique in that it has preserved most of its circuit of old city walls, many dating from the 14th to 15th centuries and later strengthened in the 16th and 17th centuries. The paths that follow the walls lead to numerous gates and towers, many of which can be explored. The section that I enjoy the most is on the west side of the town, between the massive Spittlertor and the Maxtor. The best views of the walls, the old town, and the castle can be seen from the Fürther Tor.

The cluster of historic buildings that together comprise Nürnberg Castle dominate the skyline of the northwestern section of the Old Town. This impressive fortification (351 metres tall) is considered to be one of the most important surviving medieval fortresses in all of Europe and was the residence of all legitimate German kings and emperors from 1050 to 1571.

Very close to the castle I pass Albrecht Dürer's House where the famous German Renaissance artist lived from 1509 until his death in 1528. The five-story house itself dates back to 1420 and now serves as a museum, dedicated to Dürer's life and work. In addition to its many displays of some of his best known work, the museum houses displays of authentic period furniture and a reproduction of Dürer's studio workshop, where you can see demonstrations of traditional printing.

I pop into both the St Lorenz church and the Frauenkirche when I finish my stroll of the city walls as I am still early for my meeting with Claudia. There are other places of interest that I don’t get to this time. These include Nürnberg’s Medieval Dungeons, the Transport Museum, the excellent Toy Museum - widely regarded as the leading museum of its kind in the world as well as the National Germanic Museum. This is home to the country's largest collection related to German art and culture. The museum has more than 1.3 million items relating to the region's artistic and cultural history, including historical documents on parchment, a collection of 17,000 seals, and a superb fine arts archive. The museum is also worth visiting as it is located on Kartäusergasse (still within the city walls), where you can also find the Straße der Menschenrechte (The Way of Human Rights), a street-long monument dedicated to world peace.

It is now time to meet Claudia. We meet in the large cafe Provenza on the Hauptmarkt. This is an ideal meeting point for her as she is running a tour today and she has just left the group in the Hauptmarkt at what is probably THE most recognisable fountain in Europe. It is called Schöner Brunnen (beautiful fountain) with its highly ornate decorations and figures. (You are supposed to touch the fountain's famous gold ring for good luck). This means that it is easy for her guests to find it again when it is time to reconvene. Although one time she had guests who got a bit lost, so they asked a local to direct them to the ‘Beautiful Fountain’. He looked rather puzzled, said they had lots of beautiful fountains in Nürnberg and directed them to a completely different one!! Claudia and I have a lovely chat over coffee and discuss how she plans to do the walking tours with our groups next year. She also gives me lots of very helpful information about public transport as I want to go and visit two specific sites that are not within walking distance.

When we part company I take the number 36 bus from the Hauptmarkt (actually right next to my hotel) to Luitpoldhain. This is so I can visit the first of these - the Documentation Centre Nazi Party Rally Grounds. This is one of Germany's most important museum's dedicated to the bleakest chapters in the country's history. In a wing of the Congress Hall where Nazi Party rallies were held, the most notable exhibit is called Fascination and Terror and deals with many facets of the Nazi regime's time in power. Covering an area of 1,300 square meters, it deals specifically with the impact of the regime on Nürnberg (the Congress Hall was part of a vast 11 square-kilometre site), as well as the Nürnberg Trials that took place in the city after the war.

I find the exhibition inside really fascinating. One particularly poignant exhibit is fairly new (2002) and is called Das Gleis (the Track). It was created for the 175th anniversary of the German railway and makes reference to the part that the state railway played in the Holocaust. The exhibit is 40 metres long. On top of the track lie 60,000 cards. Each one bears the name of one person with date and place of birth and date and place of death. Each of these cards represents not just that one person, but 100 people. I have included a photo of this. Afterwards I go outside and walk around the Dutzendteich Lake to the Zeppelinfeld (so named after one of Count Zeppelin’s airships landed here in 1909). The remnants of Zeppelinfeld, where the Nazis held some of their largest and most prominent rallies and where Hitler spoke from the podium on several occasions, is in serious disrepair but the central hall, the speaker's rostrum and the remnants of the areas where spectators sat remain. You can walk up to the platform and stand in the place where Hitler delivered his speeches. My photos can not do justice to the vastness of the place. The (very pleasant) walk round the lake also provides an opportunity to see the Reich’s Congress Centre from a distance and to appreciate its size and the place of all the facilities in the 1933-1938 annual party rallies. There are large metal plaques/signs at the Zeppelinfield with information in both German and English. You get a huge sense of history here and I would recommend a visit here to anyone with an interest in modern history.

Thanks to Claudia’s tips I know exactly how to get to my second site of interest - the Memorium Nürnberg Trials. I take the tram from the Documentation Centre to the main station and catch the underground towards the town of Fürth, getting out at Bärenschanze. This is all really easy and it is just two minutes walk from the underground station at Bärenschanze to the Nürnberg Palace of Justice. This houses the Memorium which is a fascinating exhibition concerning the war trials that took place here after WW2, and which is located above the actual court used at the time - Courtroom 600. Sometimes Courtroom 600 is in use as an actual courtroom but I am lucky. It is not in use today, and I can go inside and sit down. The audio guide provides an excellent and detailed description of who was where etc. The courtroom has been changed since then, but sitting in the courtroom, listening to the audio guide and looking at all the photos of the trials in the exhibition upstairs - I get a really clear impression of how it was. Once again I would thoroughly recommend a visit here. The cost per adult for each museum is €6. However if you want to visit more than one it is worth paying for a day ticket (€9) which gives you access to all the museums.

I have timed this all rather well, and I catch the underground back to Lorenz - a couple of minutes walk from the Hotel Central, where I collect my bag and head back to the main station. Yesterday , on arrival at Nürnberg station I bought a Bayern ticket for today. This €25 day ticket gives me unlimited travel in Bavaria on trains, buses, trams, underground etc. It even extends to Salzburg. It really is excellent value and I have made the most of it in Nürnberg. If you travel in a group the Bayern ticket is even better value as you only pay an extra €7 for each person on the ticket.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my short stay in Nürnberg. It is a lovely city and very interesting too. Another one for the list? Maybe during advent?

And now I have a trip to the beautiful city of Salzburg in Austria. As I decided to pack a lot into my Nürnberg day, it means I won’t get to Salzburg until late. I catch the 17.06 via Munich. I have an hour in Munich station before my connection to Salzburg leaves. I have been here many times in the past and I know lots of decent places to eat in the station and realise I am famished. So I make the most of my time here and order Kaiserschmarren and a glass of red. My last part of the day is a gentle train ride into Salzburg. This is the only place I booked that isn’t close enough to the station to walk. The reason for this is I just loved the look of the Villa Verdi B&B. So on this occasion I get a taxi and let myself in using the very efficient code system that the owners sent me. Villa Verdi is a great choice. The room is fabulous with lots of little extra touches, such as a Mozart’s chocolate on the pillow, a beautiful candle plus matches, fresh flowers and fresh fruit.

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