Our ship had been traveling along the Main-Danube Canal since we departed from the Main River just prior to reaching Bamberg. This canal would take us as far as Kelheim, where we would then join the Danube. The city of Nuremberg is situated along the Pegnitz River and the Main-Danube Canal.
(The Pegnitz River is not to be confused with the Regnitz which, as you’ll recall, flowed past Bamberg. According to Wikipedia, the “Pegnitz” is a small river in Franconia that originates in the city of the same name at an altitude of 1,394 feet. The Pegnitz meets the “Rednitz” River northwest of the city of Fürth (not far from Nuremberg) at approximately 928 feet. From that point onward, the combined river is called “Regnitz”.
The idea of building a canal to link the Main and the Danube had first been introduced in 793 by Charlemagne. It wasn’t until 1836, under Ludwig I of Bavaria, that construction began on the “Ludwigskanal” between Bamberg and Kelheim. However, that canal was unsuitable for large commercial boats and, after damage sustained during WWII, it was scrapped. Construction began again in 1959 and, finally, in 1992 the last 106 miles of the new Main-Danube were completed. There are 16 locks along the canal with a total elevation difference of about 400 feet. “Lock chambers, whose filling/emptying can be controlled, allow ships to ‘step up or down’ to the next level of the river,” reads our ship newsletter. The summit of the Main-Danube Canal reaches a height of 1,331 feet, which makes this Europe’s highest waterway.
Our ship had already arrived at Nuremberg by the time we got up and around this morning. I had asked Bill the previous evening whether he would like to take the “Nazi History Tour” rather than the regular city tour, but he said he’d let me know in the morning. He chose not to go, so I ran down to the front desk to ask if that tour, which was to leave at 8:25 a.m., could take one more person. Unfortunately, the tour was already full, so I went along with Bill and the others on the regular city tour. It was probably just as well because, though I’m sure the “Nazi History Tour” would have been very interesting, there would have been no free time left to explore the city on our own.
The Nazi Party had chosen Nuremberg as the city in which to hold their annual conventions. In 1927, 1929 and annually from 1933-1938 Hitler and the Nazis held their big rallies here. According to our Across Europe with Avalon guide book, “no city in Germany has a more troubling Nazi heritage to deal with than Nuremberg.” Hitler had ordered a huge building, which would mark the entrance to the rally grounds, to be designed and built on the outskirts of this city. He called it Kongresshalle (Congress Hall), and it is a “symbol of Hitler’s megalomania and his excessive love of spectacle and self-presentation.” The building was designed to hold 50,000 seats, and the design was inspired by Rome’s Colosseum. Construction was begun in 1935, but the building was never completely finished. Congress Hall is shaped like a horseshoe with two “head-buildings” at the ends.
Since 2001, the Nazi Party Rally Grounds have held the Documentation Center and the Fascination and Terror exhibit (located in the northern wing of Congress Hall). These exhibits “trace the context, history and consequences” of Nazism. My guidebook states that in 2002, the “museum was chosen by the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain as the best tourism project outside of the UK.”
At the 1935 Nazi Party Rally, Hitler urged the party to pass the Nuremberg Laws, which revoked the German citizenship of all Jews and anyone else who was considered by them to be “non-Aryan”. During WWII, the city was also the headquarters of a military district (Military District XIII) and was an important site for German military production, including airplanes, submarines and tank engines. “A subcamp of Flossenbürg concentration camp was located here. Extensive use was made of slave labor,” according to Wikipedia. It is no wonder that Nuremberg was the target of Allied strategic bombing during the War. On January 2, 1945, the “medieval city center was systematically bombed by the Royal Air Force and the U.S. Army Air Forces and about ninety percent of it was destroyed in only one hour.” The bombing was followed by other attacks in February 1945. “In total, about 6,000 Nuremberg residents are estimated to have been killed in air raids.”
After the war, the city was rebuilt and much of it was restored to its pre-war appearance. “However, the biggest part of the historic structural condition of the old Imperial Free City was lost forever.” (Wikipedia)
One more thing I’d like to say about the Nazis in Nuremberg is that the Nuremberg Trials were held here from 1945-1946. Prominent officers of the Nazi Party, such as Hermann Göring and Rudolf Hess, were tried here for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Many were imprisoned for life or executed for their role in the Holocaust.
There are several videos of the Nuremberg Trials on You Tube (many full-length films), but here is a good one that is also short: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUR6EkNcICE
Those of us who were taking the regular city tour boarded a bus at 8:30 and rode up to the Imperial Castle, called Kaiserburg. According to Wikipedia, “the castle, together with the city walls, is considered to be one of Europe’s most formidable medieval fortifications.” We exited the bus and began walking across a bridge over the dry moat and through the tunnel up to the castle grounds. (The weather on this day, by the way, was very cold and windy with intermittent rain. I, for one, was wishing I had worn a heavier coat!)
The “Deep Well’ was the castle’s most important source of water in times of siege. According to the site schloesser.bayern.de, the Deep Well building is a particularly famous feature of the castle grounds. “Although the first documented mention of the well dates from the 14th century, it is probably as old as the Imperial Castle itself.” The defensive tower, the Sinwell Tower, was built in the 13th century. Inside the tower is an exhibition of photographs showing the castle and the city after suffering so much damage during WWII.
We were not allowed to go inside the castle, so we began to head back down the hill and back to the bus.
From the German National Tourist Board, here are “five things…you should know about Nuremberg’s Kaiserburg Castle”:
1. Kaiserburg Castle was built on and made out of sandstone. The underground rock cellars were used for centuries for fermenting and storing beer.
2. Legend has it that the robber baron Eppelein von Gailingen jumped over the walls of Kaiserburg Castle on his horse in the 14th century to escape execution. (It is also said that the imprints of his horse’s hoofs are still visible in the fortification wall.)
3. The former imperial stables at the castle now house (the) Nuremberg youth hostel.
4. All the Holy Roman Emperors stayed at Kaiserburg Castle for a short period at least between 1050 and 1571.
5. Excavations on the site have uncovered remains of fortifications dating back to before 1000 BC.
After boarding the bus, we drove a short distance southwest from the castle. Here, our guide pointed out the Albrecht Dürer house, which is near another castle tower, the Tiergärtnertor Gate. Albrecht Dürer, who was one of the most famous painters and print-makers in art history, was born in Nuremberg in 1471. He lived in this house from 1509 until the time of his death in 1528. The house now contains reconstructed living areas and kitchens, exhibitions showing aspects of Dürer’s life, and a large workshop with functioning printing equipment. From my book, The Story of Painting by H.W. Janson and Dora Jane Janson, Albrecht Dürer was “the finest print-maker of his time. These prints were of two kinds: engravings, where the lines of the picture are cut into a sheet of copper with a steel point; and woodcuts, where the spaces between the lines are carved out of the surface of a wooden block, leaving a raised design. Both copper plates and woodblocks can then be inked and many copies can be printed.”
The bus did not stop until we were at Augustinerstrasse, a street in the downtown Old City area. As we were driving along, our guide told us about the invention of Lebkuchen (German gingerbread) in Nuremberg. According to our ship newsletter, “German gingerbread can be traced back to Franconian monks, whose delicious Pfefferkuchen or equally good honey cake were the forerunners of modern gingerbread.” Medieval monks “placed the dough on communion wafers…to prevent it sticking to the baking tray. With this practical move, they had created a cookie which soon became one of the most popular specialties in Bavaria…The first records of gingerbread bakers in Nuremberg date back to 1395.” Our guide told us that, in order to keep the quality of Nuremberg gingerbread high, only so many people are allowed to become master gingerbread bakers, and that trying to earn the master gingerbread bakers qualification is a complicated and expensive endeavor. The recipe was passed on from generation to generation, and often, the only way for someone to become a master baker was for him to marry the daughter of one! “The many different types of gingerbread are recorded in the German guidelines for fine bakery products, ” reads the ship newsletter. “Since July 1st 1996 Nuremberg gingerbread is a protected product throughout Europe.”
The bus let us off at Augustinerstrasse, and we walked with our guide up to the Hauptmarkt (market square area). Here was the Schöner Brunnen (Beautiful Fountain), the original built in 1385. The legend says that your wish will come true if you can turn the fountain’s gold ring (The Nuremberg Ring) three times. I didn’t try it, but I think Susan may have.
Every year on the Friday before the first Sunday of Advent, the Hauptmarkt holds the Christkindlesmarkt (the Christmas Market). According to our guide book, “The Christking usually appears as a child with blond curls, angel-like wings and a halo, and it is he who…brings the presents under the Christmans tree.” The Christmas Market in Nuremberg’s Hauptmarkt “is one of the oldest of its kind in Germany (16th century).” Here they sell lebkuchen, handmade Christmas tree decorations, handmade toys, arts and crafts, etc., anything you need for Christmas.
Our guide led us through some city streets and up to the Pegnitz River, where we walked past some interesting restaurants and bakeries. Across the river there was a famous tavern, but I can’t remember what it was called.
When we reached the bridge we had a good photo op of the Heilig-Geist-Spital (Holy Spirit Hospital). Part of the hospital sits over the river. This hospital was founded in 1332 and was one of the largest hospitals of the Middle Ages. According to Wikipedia, “lepers were kept here at some distance from the other patients.” The hospital is now used as a hospice, or nursing home for elderly patients. There’s also a restaurant in it, and a pharmacy is on the left side facing the river.
Our guide showed us a few more areas, such as the old slaughterhouse (she said you can always tell it’s a slaughterhouse because of the steer sculpture displayed on the building), and then she left us to roam around the city on our own until we had to be back at Augustinerstrasse to catch the bus. We didn’t have much time, because the ship was hosting a special “Bavarian Lunch” for us, and we didn’t want to miss that!
Here are some of the things we saw in Nuremberg.
We bought some bread, cheese and dried sausages to eat later. We also met Fox & Lois for hot coffee at a small restaurant that we had walked past previously. The restaurant had lots of nice-looking goodies, but we abstained, since we didn’t want to spoil our appetites for the big Bavarian Lunch.
Bill and I then shopped around for some souvenirs and walked down to a Lebkuchen store, where I bought a gift for Mom and a couple of pieces for us to eat later. We also shopped around inside an interesting Christmas store.
Then we walked up to see the huge St Lorenz-Kirche (St. Lawrence Church), but we didn’t have time to go inside. This church is one of the most important buildings in Nuremberg. It was built from approximately 1270-1350.
We hurried back to the bus parked at Augustinerstrasse and had one more look at the Beautiful Fountain on the way.
Nuremberg had several museums that I would have liked to see, including the Spielzeugmuseum (Toy Museum). Nuremberg is known for its handmade toys, and the museum houses thousands of interesting wooden toys, dolls, doll houses, Lehmann tin toys, cars, trains, steam engines, Legos, Barbies, Playmobil, and Matchbox toys.
The Germanisches Nationalmuseum is “Germany’s largest museum of cultural history, (and) among its exhibits are works of famous painters such as Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt, and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner,” (from Wikipedia). There’s also the German National Railways Museum and the Neues Museum Nürnberg, which houses modern and contemporary art.
The Johannisfriedhof is a medieval cemetery. Albrecht Dürer, humanist Willibald Pirckheimer and others are buried there.
After we arrived back at the ship we were treated by the ship’s crew to the delicious Bavarian Lunch, complete with yummy sausages, sauerkraut, cheeses, breads, soups, Bavarian bier, and tiny bottles of schnapps. The crew were dressed in funny aprons and pointy Bavarian hats. They all looked a bit like the Seven Dwarfs!
After lunch, some of us went up to the top deck to watch our ship entering one of the locks. Some of us went right back inside because it was too cold!
During the afternoon, our Cruise Director, Jeannette, told us to watch for the wall that marks the Continental Watershed (Continental Divide) near Freystadt. Just after the wall, we saw a huge field full of solar panels. (I wasn’t able to get up high enough in time to take the photo, but you can get the idea.)
Throughout Germany we had seen hundreds of solar panels on houses and buildings. We also saw plenty of wind turbines. According to Wikipedia, Germany is called “the world’s first major renewable energy economy.” The percentage of electricity produced by renewable energy in Germany has increased from about 6% in 2000 to about 30% in the first half of 2014. “According to official figures, some 370,000 people in Germany were employed in the renewable energy sector in 2010, especially in small and medium-sized companies.” in addition to solar (photovoltaic) and wind energy, Germany also has other renewable energy industries, such as nuclear, biogas, hydropower, and geothermal.
I had previously signed up Bill, Lois, Fox, & I for the special Bistro Dinner for this evening, instead of going downstairs to the usual dining room. At the Bistro Dinner, we were given three different samples of each course, including appetizer, soup & salad, main course, and dessert. Some delicious white and red wines were offered with each course. Since these were new foods that the chef was trying out, we were each later given a questionnaire and asked to rate each dish. Of course, everything tasted fantastic! The Bistro Dinner was a perfect way to end a wonderful day in Nuremberg.