Nürnberger Burg: A Medieval World
One of the foremost historical monuments of the medieval old town of Nuremberg, the landmark of the city, and a part of the Historical Mile Nuremberg (Historische Meile Nürnberg), Nürnberger Burg is world-famous. Let’s find out why!
Nürnberger Burg or the Nuremberg Castle is located to the north of the city walls of Nuremberg (Nürnberg), the second largest city in the Free State of Bavaria, Germany. North of the Pegnitz River, the castle sits on the highest sandstone ridge at the northernmost point of the Old Town of Sebald (Sebalder Altstadt) in Nuremberg. It has the Neutorgraben road in the west and the Vestnertorgraben road in the north as its boundaries.
A humid continental climate with warm breezes in summers and cold winters is characteristic of Nuremberg. The warm season, lasting from May to September, has a daily mean temperature of 20 degrees Celsius. The warmest months of the year are generally July and August with a temperature of 25 degrees Celsius on an average. Winter in Nuremberg begins from November and lasts till February, with an average temperature below 6 degrees Celsius. January, during which the temperature reaches an average low of -4 degrees Celsius, is the coldest month. Nuremberg receives the highest amount of rainfall in the months of June and July.
The name of Nürnberger Burg was mentioned for the first time as a royal estate in documents dating back to 1105. The castle or Kaiserburg, which used to be a pivotal center for the imperial power politics of the Salian and the Hohenstaufen kings and emperors, had increasing significance under the Swabians. King Conrad III of Germany, first of the Hohenstaufen dynasty to have been so, began to construct in 1140 a second castle in that place, to be used as a royal palace. After Nuremberg had become an Imperial Free City in the 13th century, the castle was handed over to its care.
It is said that Eppelein von Gailingen, a German robber baron or Raubritter in the Middle Ages, escaped his execution on the gallows in 1372 when his horse jumped into the castle moat, leaving its hoof prints on the wall at this place.
The Nuremberg Castle accommodated several kings, including Emperor Frederick I or Barbarossa, King Heinrich VII of Sicily, and the Roman-German king Friedrich II who was later the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Unfortunately, the castle also witnessed a number of wars, the Hussite Wars (1419-1436) and the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) being two of them. The turning point came at the time of World War II in 1944-45, when almost the entire castle, except the Sinwellturm and the double chapel, was severely damaged. It was renovated after the war under the direction of Julius Lincke and Rudolf Esterer. Today, the castle is used mainly for tourism purposes.
The historical building of the Nuremberg Castle encompasses three parts – the Imperial Castle, some structures of the Burgraves of Nuremberg, and some municipal buildings of the Free Imperial City of Nuremberg.
The Imperial Castle (Kaiserburg), one of the palaces built by the order of the Holy Roman Emperor, lies to the west with the inner courtyard, the actual Emperor’s Castle, the Chapel, the Palas, the bower and the Sinwellturm. It was formerly the political hub of the Staufer, a noble family in the East Frankish Empire. Most of the oldest sections of the castle date back to 1200.
In the eastern area of the Nürnberger Burg lies the Nuremberg Burggrafenburg, the castle’s oldest part. Probably built in 1192, it used to be the administrative headquarters of the Burgrave Nuremberg, a medieval domain in the Holy Roman Empire, until the mid-13th century. A significant portion of the Burggrafenburg was destroyed in 1420, leaving behind only a handful of remnants, including the Walbergiskapelle and the Fünfeckturm buildings.
To the north and east rise the Empire State buildings (Reichsstädtische Bauten) of the Imperial City, the tower of Luginsland or “watch-over-the-land” is one of the many ones. You can get a fantastic view of the Burggrafenburg could be secured. Close to the Luginsland is the prior granary of the city, Kaiserstallung, built by Hans Behem the Elder in 1495.
Two distinct architectural techniques can be identified in Nürnberger Burg. It was used as the Salian royal castle in the first half of the 11th century, and as the imperial castle of the Hohenstaufens in 1200, showcasing the Romanesque style of architecture. In the 15th century, the palace, as well as the municipal buildings, was reconstructed with a Gothic design.
From April to September, you can visit it daily from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. The castle remains open from 10:00 am till 4:00 pm every day between October and March. However, the castle closes its gates to tourists on 1st January, Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras, and on 24th, 25th, and 31st December every year.
How to Get There:
You can reach the Nuremberg central railway station from the Nuremberg Airport within 12 minutes on the U2 subway line. The Hauptbahnhof or the main train station is just a stroll away from the old town (Sebalder Altstadt), where the castle is situated. Arriving at Nuremberg by car through A3, A6, A73 or A9 of the German Autobahn network is also possible. A EuroBus can take you to Nuremberg’s main bus station, which is near the Hauptbahnhof. You can also arrive by ship at the port of Nuremberg, which is 6 kilometers southwest of the Hauptbahnhof and the old town.
Once you have reached the city of Nuremberg, you need to climb to the Kaiserstallung, turn left at the Pentagonal Tower, and thus begin your tour of the castle.
As you traverse through its historical rooms, courtyards, and gardens, the age-old castle of Nuremberg opens to you its window of opportunity to travel back in time through the Reformation years and the late Middle Ages in the Holy Roman Empire to the distant past, making you feel as though have been taken back to the medieval period. Isn’t that fascinating?
The sandstone rock at the Nuremberg Imperial Castle is designated by the Bavarian State Office for the Environment as Geotop 564A002. It is rightly considered and placed in the list of top 100 geological sites of Bavaria, this Geotop is the type locality (Terra typica) for the Lowenstein lineup or castle sandstone (Burgsandstein), a geological layer component of the Keuper, the topmost lithostratigraphic group of the Germanic Trias. A must visit for geology enthusiasts!
Furthermore, celebrations at Nürnberger Burg are organized for your entertainment. From 9th to 11th September 2016, the Medieval Castle Moat Festival (Mittelalterliches Buggrabenfest) is to take place at the foot of the Imperial Castle. With sword fights, street performers, falconry displays, the “Weltenkrieger” band’s open-air concerts, and fire-breathers of “Firefly” on a trapeze 6.5 meters high, this “medieval” festival cannot fail to leave you and your family enthralled.
Keeping the Nuremberg Castle moat in the background, over a hundred types of beer are served to you by more than 30 local breweries at the Franconian Beer Festival, which is scheduled to take place from 14th until 18th June in 2017. You don’t need to pay any entrance fee!
- The Imperial Chapel (Burgkapelle) – Built in 1200 in Romanesque style, the double chapel or Doppelkapelle with a gable roof is one of the oldest parts of the Nuremberg Castle that is still preserved. Representing the late Gothic period can be found the altar’s crucifix, which is the handiwork of Veit Stoss. The lower chapel, which can be reached only through the courtyard, and the upper chapel, the access to which was reserved for the aristocracy alone, are connected only by an aperture in the ceiling.
- The Palas – It is a two-story elongated structure, consisting of a hall building called the “Knight’s Hall” and living quarters with a number of It was constructed on the remains of erstwhile buildings from 1200. In 1487 and 1559-60 it was extended towards the west and renovated from 1947 to 1950 after its destruction in 1945. Paintings, furniture, and tapestries, dating back to the 16th and the 17th centuries, decorate the Knight’s Hall, alongside a Gothic wooden staircase located in the Palas. You can also get a beautiful view of the city of Nuremberg from the hall’s windows.
- The Deep Well (Tiefer Brunnen) – Probably as old as the Nuremberg Castle itself, this well shaft goes down into the solid rock to a depth of around 50 meters. In the core of the outer bailey, the well house was built with a floor of sandstone and a gable roof in 1563.
- The Sinwell Tower (Sinwellturm) – In Middle High German, the word “Sinwell” is taken to mean “tremendously round.” This round tower was built in the second half of the 13th century, while its topmost story dates from the 1560s. A photograph exhibition gives you valuable information on the destruction of the Nuremberg Castle and the town during the Second World War. Surprisingly, it is one of the few buildings to have survived the air raids during the Second World War. At a height of 385 meters, you can have a magnificent view of the entire Nuremberg city!
- The Imperial Castle Museum in the Bower (Kemenate Kaiserburg) – Dating from the Staufen period to 1220, the bower was rebuilt in the 1440s under Emperor Friedrich III. Since 1999, this four-story building of brick and sandstone has housed the Imperial Castle Museum, a branch of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum. You can perceive ornamental models, architectural elements, findings from excavations and sketches of reconstructions, shields, scaling ladders, ancient stirrups, spurs, and bridles, at the Kemenate.
- Sky Stables – Half of the building is made up of timber, while the base is composed of sandstone. After being destroyed in 1945, it was rebuilt in 1946.
- The Maria Sibylla Merian Garden – Named after Maria Sibylla Merian, the famous naturalist-cum-artist who lived and worked in Nuremberg for 14 years, this garden is situated between the sky stables and Heidenturm. Attractive native, as well as tropical plants, herbs, and shrubs, can be found in this garden. You can also use the garden room for wedding receptions! From April to September, you can visit this exclusively delicate garden from 2:00 pm till 6:00 pm, and in October, you can roam around till 4:00 pm.
- Mayor’s Garden (Bürgermeistergarten) – Initially, this section of the castle grounds used to be rented to the mayor. Stone figures, gates, staircases, and benches add to the enchanting charm of this garden, where you feel at peace.
- Advent at Kaiserburg, Nuremberg (Advent auf der Kaiserburg, Nürnberg) – At the Master Concert or Meisterkonzerte of George Hörtnagel, musical performances by the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, the Windsbach Boys Choir, the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Czech Philharmonic, Grigory Sokolov and Helene Grimaud are sure to entertain classical music lovers in the Knight’s Hall of the Imperial Castle. Be prepared on 10th December 2016, at 5:00 pm!
What Else is Around?
- The Habitat Burg
- The Pentagonal Tower
- The Walpurgis Chapel
- Dürer’s Bastion
Do you want to be transported to the mystical world of the medieval past? With lots to explore and move around, this place is the best one to enjoy your vacations. Nürnberger Burg welcomes you and your family wholeheartedly!