Nuremberg (Nürnberg / Nuernberg) is truly one gem of a city, disguised in all the major tourist hotspots in south Germany. It is the first city that came to our minds, while still learning German in Goethe Institut, Mumbai, when someone suddenly blurted ‘Christmas Market’ in the class. Yes, it is the ‘City’ that should be very high on your bucket list or wish list, whatever you call it these days, when you think in terms of Christmas Markets and all things Christmas.
Nuremberg is famous for the biggest Christmas Market not just in Germany, but in the whole of Europe. It is also one of the oldest Christmas Market that has been running annually during the Advent Season since centuries. The Christmas Market is called “Christkindlesmarkt” in the local language (Image below).
But Nuremberg is not just famous for its Christmas Market, it also has a beautiful hill top Castle of its own called the “Kaiserburg Nürnberg” that sits right in the middle of the old town, which hosts an amazing Imperial Castle Museum (image below) with artefacts dating back to the 18th Century. The views from top of the Nuremberg Castle (images below) are simply mesmerising. Nuremberg or Nürnberg, as the city is called in German, competes well with any other European city in its beautiful tiled roofed homes (images below), some of which are over hundreds of years old. The city has a strong medieval flair with its fortified walls and watchtowers (image below) along the old city centre. At the old towns main square is the “Schöner Brunnen” (images below), literally meaning ‘beautiful fountain’ which is partly gold plated and the famous Frauenkirche (Church of our Lady) which looks breathtaking during the Christmas time with its beautiful lighting and decorations (images above).
Another very important ‘first’ for Nuremberg which very few people know, including a lot of locals, is that Nuremberg was the first city to introduce the Railways in Germany. It was the contemporary Nuremberg’s factory owners who invested heavily in the introduction of a pilot project to lay the first railway track between Nuremberg and the neighbouring city of Fürth (also in Bavaria) along the already existing road, connecting the two town.
On December 7, 1835 at 9 am, the first Steam Locomotive (named Adler) driven train left the Nuremberg Station towards the Fürth station to complete the 8 Km distance. It was named Die Ludwigs-Eisenbahn Gesellschaft (The Ludwig-Railway Company) after King Ludwig of Bavaria.
England had inaugurated its first commercially run railway between Manchester and Liverpool just five years prior (1830) to this event happening in Germany. The transfer of technology was in-fact from England to Germany really quick in this case. The Stephensons Company built the first locomotive called “Adler” for the Nuremberg-Fürth Railways. The original Locomotive ‘Adler’ is still on display in the German National Museum (Deutsche Bahn Museum), Nuremberg.
The fact that Nuremberg was chosen as the first city to get the Railways in German Empire at that time, itself proves its rich cultural, political and economical past. Nuremberg has a very rich history of Kings, Business owners and Banks right since the 14th – 15th century. This, in addition to the fact that, there was a lot of trade happening between Nuremberg and Fürth along the Chaussee (Middle Ages Rural Highways) pushed the factory owners to take this risk and build the first Railways in Germany.
This event led to, the so called ‘frenzy’ of Railway boom in the German Empire. Germany saw a rapid expansion of Railway-Network in the next four to five decades until Carl Benz and Gottlieb Diamler independently and simultaneously invented the first motorised cars around 1885 in Germany. Railways in Germany also hugely shaped the two world wars in the 20th century. That’s also the primary reason, why The German National Railway Museum (Deutsche Bahn Museum / DB Museum) is located in Nuremberg, which I personally highly recommend every rail enthusiast to definitely visit when in or around Nuremberg.
Nuremberg also had its share of the dark history. It was a city were the NS Party met regularly during the 1930 for their rally and party meeting and even started constructing the worlds biggest Congress Hall (Kongresshalle) on the NS grounds, where 1400 people were working on the construction permanently. The construction never saw its completion due to the interruption during the second world war. The unfinished structure had reached a height of 39 meters till 1945. The NS Party never met here but in the Luitpold Hall (image below) located nearby.
Nuremberg is the second largest city in the state of Bavaria, second only to the states capital ‘Munich’, and has a population of around 500,000. Along with Fürth, Erlangen, and Schwabach it forms a metropolitan area with a total population of over 780,000. The larger Nuremberg Metropolitan Region has over 3.5 million inhabitants. The local dialect is called Franconian. More than 90% of Nuremberg was bombed and destroyed during the second world war. After 1945 it was carefully rebuilt in a medieval style with a Bavarian charm.
The city has more than 50 museums a few of which I have already mentioned above. I highly recommend visiting the Imperial Castle of Nuremberg with its Museum, the DB Museum (especially for Railway History fans), The German National Museum, House of Albrecht Dürer (The Great Renaissance Painter of Germany), Nuremberg Toy Museum, Nuremberg Transport Museum and the Neues Museum Nürnberg (Modern Art Museum).
HOW TO REACH?
By Air:- Nuremberg has its own airport ‘The Albrecht Dürer Airport’ located 5 km north of the city with continuous flight to other German cities, major European cities and popular tourist destinations on the Mediterranean coast and Canary islands. It is also surrounded on all sides by cities with airports of their own. Stuttgart Airport (230km; approximately 2hr 30mins), Frankfurt Airport (230km; approximately 2hr 20mins), Munich Airport (161km; approximately 1hr 45mins), Leipzig Airport (275km, approximately 3hrs).
By Train: Nuremberg was the first city to get the railways in Germany and is hence a major hub for the German railways with trains coming in from all the corners of the country on an hourly basis. It a big railway junction where a lot of people change trains, so expect big crowds when travelling with train to this city. To check the connections click here.
By Car: Nuremberg is extremely well connected by Roads and its proximity to A3, A6, A9 and A73 (National Highways) makes it very easy to reach.
WHERE TO STAY?
Nuremberg has a over 200 hotels and plenty of hostels. To name a few: Melter Hotel, Hotel Five, Hotel Drei Raben, Hotel Victoria, Hotel Elch, Design Hotel Vosteen, Hotel Prinzregent and Hotel Novotel Nuremberg are a few elite ones that offer good amenities. The A & O Hostel Nürnberg, City hostel Nürnberg and Five Reasons Hostel are a few of the good hostels for travellers on a budget. People of Nuremberg have some fabulous Airbnb to offer.
PLACES OF INTEREST NEARBY:-
I would finally like to thank all the readers for taking the time to read my second blog. All the photos were taken by me on my iPhone except the two pictures from the books on the Railway History of Germany.
On a closing note I recommend everyone to visit Nuremberg especially during the Christmas Market season so as to enjoy the city in its true colours.