Move over Munich, it’s Nuremberg’s time to shine. Oktoberfest is just around the corner, and Munich is bracing itself for the annual influx of thirsty beer drinkers. But with its fascinating history, great flight connections and lively nightlife, Nuremberg is attracting more visitors than ever before. Here’s why.
Tamara Hinson is a Surrey-based freelance travel journalist who writes for newspapers such as the Telegraph and Guardian, along with in-flight publications and travel websites. She’s especially interested in getting off the beaten track and some of the more unusual destinations she’s visited include North Korea and Benin.
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It’s A Tough City
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During WWII, 93 per cent of Nuremberg was flattened. It suffered more damage than any other German city (it was a close call – Dresden came in at 92 per cent), but if you take a walk around the centre there’s little sign of the devastation it endured. After the war, the entire city was rebuilt with painstaking precision. Authorities undertook this mammoth task with the help of maps and architectural diagrams made before the war, and in some cases, mines were even reopened so that buildings could be constructed from the same stone as the originals.
Nurembergers Love Beer
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In the fourteenth century there were 40 breweries for 30,000 residents. Regulations stated that each brewery should have its own cellar for storage and fermentation purposes, and luckily, the soft sandstone was easy to excavate. And cellar space was certainly in demand. Poor water quality meant that until the seventeenth century, beer was the drink of choice, consumed even by children. The water improved but the love of beer remained, as did the cellars. And during WWII, beer saved the day once more. The extensive network of cellars doubled as bomb shelters, and these cellars are the reason other German cities suffered a much higher loss of life. Today Franconia, the region in which Nuremberg is located, still has the highest density of breweries in the world.
Nurembergers Love Inventing Things
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The first German paper mill, the wooden vice, the clarinet, the MP3 format and the radio controlled clock are just some of the inventions to come out of this brilliant city. In 1835, Nuremberg became known as the birthplace of German rail when the Adler, the first rail locomotive used to transport passengers in Germany, departed from the city. Nuremberg’s status as an industrial and creative hub stems back to the fourteenth century, when authorities imposed regulations which meant the region’s finest craftsmen couldn’t take their skills elsewhere.
It’s A City Which Likes To Do Things Differently
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Although Nuremberg’s got some of Germany’s most beautiful beer gardens, you’re more likely to come across a blues band than a dirndl-wearing alpenhorn player. It’s a city with an incredibly diverse music scene, and although beer has been the drink of choice for thousands of years, its citizens are also partial to a dram or two. Nuremberg is the epicentre of Germany’s whisky scene, and it’s home to the country’s oldest whisky club. Residents don’t just drink the stuff, either. Upmarket chocolatier Il Massimo sells whisky-infused chocolates and Nuremberg butcher Metzgerei Steiner specialises in whisky-soaked hams.
It’s In Bavaria. Sort Of.
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Any map will tell you that Nuremberg is the largest city in Franconia, a region of northern Bavaria. But never make the mistake of referring to the region’s residents as Bavarians – they’re Franconians. This stems back to 1803, when Napoleon dissolved the German Empire’s territorial structures and Franconia, previously independent, was forced to become part of Bavaria. Today, the region retains its own dialect, culture and traditions.
It’s Germany’s Friendliest City
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Nuremberg has a whopping 14 twin cities, and it’s a place which has always had excellent relations with the rest of the world. It’s also a great starting point for explorations further afield. Head into the countryside – particularly the beautiful area outside of Nuremberg known as Franconian Tuscany – and you’ll get used to being greeted with the words “Grüß Gott,” which translates as “God Greet.” It’s a throwback to the nineteenth century, when it was a traditional greeting used by local catholic priests. It’s rarely used outside Franconia however, and when this greeting is extended to Germans from the mainly protestant north, it’s often responded to with a sarcastic “wenn ich ihn sehe” (if I see him).