Nuremberg – Sights & Photo Spots in the Old Town (Germany)

Categories: Travel reports, Europe, Germany

We have had a long time on our bucket list to explore the sights of Nuremberg. Therefore, it was a great fit that the city was the beginning of our week-long river cruise with A-ROSA which took us from Nuremberg to Bamberg, on to Volkach and Miltenberg through the Upper Middle Rhine Valley to Lahnstein, Koblenz and Cologne. So we had a day to explore the most famous sights and photo spots of Nuremberg on our own.

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Things to know about Nuremberg

Nuremberg is the second largest city in Bavaria, with a population of about 520,000. Together with 11 district-free cities and 23 counties, the Nuremberg metropolitan region comprises almost 3.6 million people.

The name Nuremberg was first mentioned in the Sigena document in 1050. After King Frederick II granted town rights to the town in 1219, Nuremberg experienced its first heyday as an independent imperial city of the Holy Roman Empire and developed into the most powerful trading place in Franconia. In the 20th century, the city became known worldwide during the Nazi era, as the annual Reich Party Congresses took place on the Reichsparteitag grounds and the Nuremberg laws were passed. During World War II, Nuremberg was badly destroyed; some architectural monuments, however, were reconstructed faithfully to the original.

Today, the city is characterized by the historic buildings of the medieval old town, the mighty imperial castle and the world-famous Christmas market. Modern architecture, shopping, cafés and bars also give the city a modern, lively appearance.

The pier of the A-ROSA in Nuremberg

The pier of A-ROSA in Nuremberg is located on the Main-Danube Canal in the Nuremberg harbour (link in Google Maps) and is located about 7 km south of Nuremberg’s Old Town. But this is not so bad, because with public transport you can get to the center very easily and easily. Just a few minutes from the jetty is the bus stop “Nuremberg Rotterdamer Straße”. Bus 67 takes you from here in about 8 minutes to the underground station “Nuremberg Frankenstr.” From here it is still about 5 minutes by U1 to Nuremberg Central Station or the Lorenzkirche, which are a good starting point for a city tour.

The A-ROSA harbour guide for the respective pier was placed on our cabin the night before. It gives a very nice overview of the place and inspires with tips for exploring the region. You can download the harbour guide of Nuremberg here as a .pdf version.

The sights in the old town of Nuremberg

The most important sights of Nuremberg can be explored on your own and even on foot. If it is a slightly longer distance to the next attraction or you are simply foot-lazy, you can also use public transport. We started our city tour at Nuremberg Central Station and walked through the Frauentor into the Old Town. The old town of Nuremberg is almost completely surrounded by a city wall. Unlike, for example, in Nördlingen or Rothenburg ob der Tauber, however, a medieval wall with a walkable defensive passage does not shape the image of the city. Instead, four thick towers form cornerstones between which the walls stretch.

Our tip: For the visit, it is worthwhile to buy a Nuremberg Card (incl. Fürth) for 28 EUR per person, with which you have free admission to more than 40 museums and sights for 2 days, including the Tiergarten, the Kaiserburg, the Documentation Center Reichsparteitagsgelände & Memorium Nürnberger Prozesse, the Historical Rock Walks and much more. In addition, all public transport can be used free of charge on these two days.

It is also recommended to explore the city via the so-called Historical Mile Nuremberg. This is a cultural-historical city tour that leads to 35 historical sights of the medieval old town. A pioneering sign system allows visitors to walk the way alone and should allow about 1.5 to 2 hours. You can view a map of the Historical Mile here as a .pdf version.

City walls of Nurembergs

It is believed that the first city walls in Nuremberg existed as early as the 11th century. In the 13th century, the districts on both sides of the Pegnitz were still separated from each other. Between 1320 and 1325, both parts of the river were united by walls. Today, for example, the White Tower and the Animal Gardener’s Gate are still preserved from this penultimate city wall. The last city fortification from 1400 was five kilometres long and had more than 100 towers, four of which were large gate towers. It was divided into the city wall, a ground-level kennel in front of it, a kennel wall and a dry moat. At that time, the city was accessed through the old main gates, the new gate towers and two pedestrian passages.

During the Second World War, the Nuremberg city fortificationwas partly badly damaged by air raids. After extensive restoration work, the city wall is now almost completely preserved and surrounds the old town with four thick cornerstone towers.

Our tip: The most beautiful view of Old Nuremberg is from the defensive passage of the city wall above the Tiergärtnertor (link in Google Maps) which can be reached via the southern castle garden. From above you can see a great view of the Albrecht-Dürer-Haus, the Pilatushaus and the Kaiserburg.
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View from the city wall to the Pilatus House and the Imperial Castle

The Craftsman’s Farm

Through the Frauentor we walked through the old Waffenhof where the craftsman’s farm has been located since 1971. Right at the beginning of our city tour to find such a beautiful, photogenic place, actually surprised us a little bit and was totally pleased. Since we were in the yard at about 9 o’clock in the morning, there was not a single person and the shops had not yet opened. Many small businesses have settled in the craftsman’s yard, which revive the old medieval craftsmanship. For example, you will find a winery, pottery or a stained glass.

Around the main market

Nuremberg’s Main Market is the central square in the Old Town. The main market gained worldwide fame through its annual Nuremberg Christmas market, which attracts up to 2 million visitors from all over the world during the Advent season. This makes it one of the biggest Christmas markets in Germany and one of the most famous in the world.

The two worth seeing landmarks of the main market are on the one hand the Roman Catholic Frauenkirche with the art clock called “Männleinlaufen” on the west facade of the building as well as the Beautiful Fountain. The 19 m high stone pyramid of the fountain reminds a bit of a Gothic church spire at the first sight. The fountain was completed in 1396 and houses 40 stone figures representing the world view of the Holy Roman Empire. Secret tip: Turn once at the golden brass ring, which is located in the grid of the fountain – then, according to legend, you have a wish free 😉

Just a few metres north of the main market is the Nuremberg Town Hall, which was completely destroyed by bombs in 1945 and rebuilt from 1956 to 1962.

Half-timbered houses in Weißgerbergasse

In the Weißgerbergasse is the largest ensemble of old craftsmen’s houses in Nuremberg. For the most part, half-timbered houses can be seen here, which today house cafés, bars, shops and craftsmen’s shops. A really photogenic street, which we had completely for ourselves during our visit.

Photo spots along the Pegnitz

During our tour through Nuremberg we crossed the Pegnitz several times, which crosses the city area over a length of 14 km and divides the old town into two halves.

From the museum bridge you have a beautiful view of the Holy Spirit Hospital, which used to be the largest urban facility for the care of the sick and the elderly. Today there is a retirement home in the building. Other very nice photo spots are the Henkersteg and the Weinstadel with the neighbouring water tower, which can be seen and photographed from the Maxbrücke. The medieval Weinstadel is one of the largest half-timbered houses in Germany with a length of 48 m. In the 16th century, an imperial wine warehouse was set up here; today there is a student dormitory in the building. The Henkersteg connects Trödelmarkt Island with the Lorenz district.

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Weinstadel, Henkersteg & Water Tower on the Pegnitz

The Imperial Castle

THE landmark of Nuremberg is – next to the world-famous Christkindlesmarkt – the Kaiserburg. It was first mentioned in written documents in 1105 and is today considered one of the most important castlesin Germany. Even in the Middle Ages it had a high significance, because from 1050 to 1571 all Roman-German emperors resided – at least temporarily – in the imperial castle. This makes it one of the most important imperial palaces of the Holy Roman Empire.

The castle complex actually consists of three castles: the Imperial Castle, the Burggrafenburg and an imperial city castle complex. This makes the fortification one of the largest in Europe.

The imperial castle was badly destroyed during The Second World War; almost the entire castle lay in ruins. However, some important Romanesque and late Gothic components remained almost undamaged. After the war, the complex was rebuilt in the sense of preservation of monuments. Today you can see the Kaiserburg Museum, the Romanesque Imperial Chapel, the Palas as well as the Simwell Tower and the Deep Fountain on the grounds of the Imperial Castle as part of a tour.

When we were at the Kaiserburg in the afternoon, we were unfortunately unable to enter, as the opening hours were shortened due to the Corona pandemic. Nevertheless, we could see a bit of the complex and enjoy the view of the city from above.

Other sights in the Old Town

During our tour through Nuremberg’s Old Town we were able to discover many more beautiful monuments and photo spots. A beautiful view of the old town and the imperial castle is from the Adlerparkhaus. For this purpose, you simply drive to the top floor of the car park and enjoy the view over the roofs of Nuremberg. Above the main market and directly west in front of the town hall is the Sebalduskirche. It was completed in 1273 and is the oldest parish church in the city. A very interesting fountain is located directly at the White Tower in the city centre: the Marriage Carousel. It is considered the largest European figure fountain of the 20th century and shows in six scenes the turbulent married life from the first infatuation to marriage to death. The listed Pellerhaus is a magnificent building with a representative courtyard in the old town, which we unfortunately could not visit due to lack of time. Since 2013, the Deutsche Spielearchiv Nürnberg has been based in the Pellerhaus and houses more than 30,000 board and card games.

If you want to discover Nuremberg culinary, you should try the famous Nuremberg sausages. Classically they are served as “Three in the Weggla” and are a delicious snack for on the go. The sweet cats are not neglected in Nuremberg, because the city is world-famous for its Nuremberg gingerbread,which can be bought in many shops in different versions.

Johannis Church Cemetery

St. Johannis is one of the oldest districts of Nuremberg and houses a remarkable cemetery, which is one of the most famous burial sites in Germany. Among other things, the famous painter Albrecht Dürer has found his final resting place here. We found particularly impressive the endless succession of coffin-like tombstones, which are arranged close to others around St. John’s Church. We had never seen anything like it before.

The Documentation Centre Reichsparteitagsgelände

Unfortunately, we did not manage a visit to the 11 km2 Reich Party Congress grounds during our one-day visit to Nuremberg. The gigantic site is located in the south of Nuremberg and bears witness to the megalomania of the Nazi regime, which held their regular Reich Party Congresses here.

A visit to the “Memorium Nürnberger Prozesse” is also recommended, which informs about the prehistory, the course and the aftermath of the Nuremberg trials at the original location. From 20.11.1945, the Nuremberg war crimes trials against 21 chief of the Nazi regime took place in the jury room 600 of the Palace of Justice.

A map with all sights in Nuremberg

On the following Google MyMaps map we have drawn all important sights and photo spots in Nuremberg.

Starbucks Global Icon City Mug of Nuremberg

We are collecting the Starbucks Mugs from the cities and islands we visit on our travels. Unfortunately, not every city that has a Starbucks store with an own mug. But if the city has an own mug we like to collect them as a souvenir. We only collect city mugs from the "Global Icon Series", which was released in 2008. You can see our complete collection here: Starbucks - Our collection of Mugs from the Global Icon Series

Nuremberg has several Starbucks stores, but unfortunately the cup of the Global Icon series with the motif of the Beautiful Fountain no longer exists. That’s why we bought the cup later on eBay 🙂

Starbucks City Mug Nuremberg Global Icon Cup

The Starbucks City Cup of Nuremberg

All travelogues of our river cruise on the Main & Rhine

A-ROSA offers various river cruises on the Main River with different durations and destinations depending on the season. We had chosen the 7-day route "Main Romatik", as this route combines the major metropolises, natural highlights and UNESCO world heritage sites - a perfect combination for us. The route with the "A-ROSA Silva" took us from Nuremberg to Bamberg, on to Volkach and Miltenberg through the Upper Middle Rhine Valley to Lahnstein, Koblenz and Cologne.
Reiseberichte A-ROSA Main A-ROSA Silva - Our river cruise “Main-Romance” with A-ROSA
Nuremberg - Sights & Photo Spots in the Old Town
Bamberg - The sights in the World Heritage Old Town
Volkach - The wine town of Volkach on the Main River
Miltenberg - The historic town of Miltenberg – The Pearl of the Main
Rhine - River cruise through the World Heritage Upper Middle Rhine Valley
Koblenz - Sights of the city on The Rhine & Moselle
Cologne - Cathedral, Old Town & the Chocolate Museum