Located on the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal in Bavaria, Nuremberg is a city with two distinct faces. The first, its atmospheric, walled historic center, is filled with ancient half-timbered buildings and is a perfect area for strolling. The second is composed of the remains of massive Nazi structures and represents the city's darker history. But whether you're a World War II buff, a fan of all things medieval, or someone who just enjoys savoring tasty sausages, you'll find plenty to do here.
What We Love
The Imperial Castle (Kaiserburg): Dating back nearly 1,000 years, this fortress was once the domain of the Holy Roman Emperor. You can visit the Romanesque Imperial Chapel, Throne Room, Knights' Hall, and the excellent Kaiserburg Museum, which displays armor and other artifacts related to the castle.
Old Town (Altstadt): With Hauptmarkt Square at its heart, Nuremberg's Old Town offers plenty to see, including the 14th-century Schöner Brunnen Fountain and the Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall). There's also a trio of must-see churches: St. Lorenz, known for its carvings; St. Sebald, an outstanding example of Gothic architecture; and Frauenkirche, famous for its Gothic brickwork.
Best Known For
Its Christmas Market: The Christkindlesmarkt, held in Hauptmarkt Square, is often named best in Germany. It dates to 1628, and no mass-produced items are allowed.
The Nuremberg Trials: Courtroom 600, where the historic postwar trials took place, is still active, but you can visit if court isn't in session. There's also a memorial with permanent exhibits.
Fun Foods: Nosh on Nuremberg's famous little bratwursts, served three to a sandwich, then try some local gingerbread for dessert.
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Who It's Best For
Wanderers: The center of Nuremberg is ideally explored on foot. Stroll along the Pegnitz River, which meanders through Old Town, pop into a coffeehouse, or check out the market stalls.
World War II Buffs: While it's grim and haunting, a visit to the former Nazi Party rally grounds and unfinished Congress Hall, which houses the Documentation Center museum, offers insight into the causes, context, and consequences of Adolf Hitler's reign.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
War Sites Aren't Near Old Town: The rally grounds, Congress Hall, Documentation Center, and Nuremberg Trial courthouse are all well outside the city center.
Gayle Keck is a San Francisco-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times.