An Introduction to Nuremberg, Germany: What To See On Your First Day There

The historical significance of Nuremberg has led it down a turbulent path in history. One of the most powerful free imperial cities as far back as the 2nd century A.D., it was a strong rallying ground for the Nazis during World War II, who developed the infamous Nuremberg Race Laws that led to the boycotting of Jewish businesses, and banning of intermarriages among other issues in the 1930s. The Nazi party embraced Nuremberg for its historical and political significance in forming German identity. This made Nuremberg a prime target for Allied bombing during the war, resulting in the destruction of more than 90% of the city in the 1940s. Today, its main attractions stand as pillars of atonement and vicissitude resulting from the lessons of the past paving the way for the future. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations were born in Nuremberg in 1948.

Whether you’re in Nuremberg for a weekend or a day-trip, visiting these attractions will give you a good overview of the incredible history of this beautiful German city.

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Memorium Nuremberg Trials

Start your day off at the Memorium Nuremberg Trials, adjoining the Palace of Justice. This is an incredible Memorium, giving you an excellent overview of the infamous Nuremberg trials, where Nazi leaders such as Hermann Göring were tried for their heinous crimes during World War II between 1945 and 1946. You can walk into (a slightly remodeled) version of Courtroom 600, where the actual trials took place. Get an audio guide, and immerse yourself in this excellent guided tour of the first ever international court to try high-ranking officials for committing war crimes. What’s most important about this museum is its chronicling of the development of Human Right Laws adopted by the UN, formed as a result of the trials held here between 1946 and 1949.

Give yourself at least two hours to spend at this Memorium.

There is usually street parking available by the Memorium Nuremberg Trials if you’re driving into the city.

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Entrance to the Memorium
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Courtroom 600
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Where the defendants sat…

Palace of Justice

The Memorium Nuremberg Trials is adjoining the Palace of Justice (technically it is part of the Palace of Justice), which upholds regional, local public law to this day. The Palace of Justice building can only be viewed from outside the gates: there are no tours inside. The Palace of Justice and Memorium are usually convoluted in online reviews do to location, but we decided to split them up here for clarity.

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Palace of Justice

Nuremberg Castle

Considered to be one of Europe’s most formidable fortifications, the Nuremberg Castle is a must-see on your Nuremberg itinerary. It represented the power and glory of the Holy Roman Empire and the importance of Nuremberg as an imperial city. Allow yourself 2-3 hours at this castle: 1) to walk around the inner galleries 2) to visit the Sinwell Tower which gives you beautiful views over the city but only allows a small number of people to climb up at a time (you have to wait until someone comes down if the platform is full) 3) to visit the Deep Well, which opens only at certain times to show you an impressive well, cut into 50m of rock underground.

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Inside the Nuremberg castle
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Exhibits inside the Nuremberg Castle: An excellent visit
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The Deep Well, Nuremberg
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Demonstration to show the depth of the well
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Climbing the Sinwell Tower
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View over Nuremberg from Sinwell Tower

Hauptmarkt, Frauenkirche

Located on the Hauptmarkt, the Nuremberg Frauenkirche (“women church”) or Church of Our Lady, is an example of brick Gothic architecture built between 1352 and 1362.

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Schöner Brunnen

Schöner Brunnen is a fountain built in the 14th century, located in the Hauptmarkt of Nuremberg. It’s hard to miss this “Beautiful Fountain.” The original fountain from the 1300s was destroyed, and the existing “fountain” is a replica built in the 20th century.

There are plenty of cafes and restaurants around Nuremberg castle and the Hauptmarkt if you’re looking for a meal or snack. Provenza offers great food at a good fare with an excellent balcony view over the Hauptmarkt.

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Schöner Brunnen
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View from Provenza

Ehekarussell

This is a  controversial statue of the grim trials of marriage (Ehekarussell translates into Marriage Carousel): from romantic beginnings to an even murderous, gruesome end.

St. Elizabeth Church

Dedicated to Elizabeth of Hungary, this is a Roman Catholic Church located close to the Ehekarussell.

Way of Human Rights

The Way of Human Rights is an outdoor monument constructed in 1993. This is an important sight to round-off your historical tour of the city.

If you have more time: Visit the German National Museum, located by the Way Of Human Rights. This museum contains a myriad artifacts spanning German history, including the fragments of the original Schöner Brunnen from the 1300s.

Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds

Spanning 13,000 square meters, this unfinished Nazi Congress Hall lies in the outskirts of central Nuremberg (where the above sights are all located). This is an excellent museum to learn about the causes, context, and consequences of the Nazi regime. The “Fascination and Terror” exhibit is aptly named, for its display of the propaganda that swayed hundreds of thousands of people in the 1930s. It’s incredible to see its relevance, especially in 2017.

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Have more time in Nuremberg? Visit the Albrect Dürer house!

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Planning your trip to Germany?

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top places to see in nurember germany as curated by a local

As always, be a conscious traveler: Take nothing, and leave nothing behind. Be conscious, be welcome! Read more about conscious travel here.

what to do in nuremberg

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