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For most people, Nuremberg is a city tainted by its wartime reputation – the Nuremberg Rallies held here by the Nazis during the 1930s do cast a heavy shadow, and Nuremberg is also known for the Nuremberg trials of the 1940s when many war criminals were brought to justice. But Nuremberg, while it does, and rightfully so, remember the dark history of this time, it also has a lot more to offer as a beautiful, historical and culturally interesting southern German city.

Nuremberg is situated on the Pegnitz river in Bavaria. The old town, dominated by a towering imperial castle, is full of historic buildings. There are Gothic churches, painted town houses, wooden-framed mediaeval dwellings and many other historic sites that survived bombing, or have been restored since the war. This area within the city walls is best explored on foot.

The castle dominates the north western corner of the old town, and provides excellent views over the city. There are towers to climb, dating from different eras, the oldest of which is the five cornered tower, built before 1050. It is the oldest structure not just of the castle, but of the whole city. At the castle there is also a deep well, and a museum which tells you a lot more about the various elements of the castle and their history.

The castle quarter (Burgviertel) is an area of the old town where many merchants’ and craftsmen’s houses are found. The sandstone houses of the merchants are shown in Fuell Street, while a number of excellent examples of the timber-framed buildings belonging to craftsmen have been restored on Weissgerbergasse. Churches to see include Sebalduskirche and Lorenzkirche, both built between the 13th and 15th Centuries, the first of which was restored after heavy damage sustained during the war.

For a different viewpoint of the old town, why not try the fascinating tour of the underground vaulted, rock-hewn beer cellars, water conduits and passages beneath the castle. There are over 20,000 m2 hollowed out of the hill.

Museums and art galleries abound. Many of the best to be found within easy walking distance of the castle, in or near the old town. There is a zoo, which families will enjoy, and a dolphinarium is also to be found there.

Those who do have an interest in the pre-war period, the war itself and the aftermath will find plenty to see and do. There is no sense that the people of Germany wish to hide from this dark period in their history, and one can visit the rally grounds, attend a courtroom used in the Nuremberg Trials, or go to one of the museums which discuss in depth the events of these times.

If you have time, why not leave the city temporarily to visit nearby Bamberg, another beautiful town with many historic sights. Do not miss the Dom, or the Altes Rathaus perched on a bridge over the river. There are many other romantic and historically fascinating towns and villages in the area.

Nuremberg is an interesting destination, and a place that deserves to be known for more than its 20th Century history.

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