24 May, 2017

Erlangen part III - Off to Nürnberg

Having a weekend off sounds like a perfect way to explore something new. With that in mind, I decided not to visit Bamberg again. Honestly, I too though the little city wouldn't have to offer much during winter. Instead, I'd turn south for a little train trip towards Nürnberg, where I expected to find a wider range of things to see, and to visit in two days in a row. Was I right? I'd say: In every imaginable way.
Another thing that spoke in favour of a weekend visit was the VGN offer that enables you to use your Saturday ticket on Sunday, too, without any extra charge. As the offer applies on both regional trains and city transportation, it meant one return ticket for the regional train and one city ticket would give me free access to as many rides as I wished for (or managed to squeeze in my weekend plans).
Arriving in Nürnberg on a beautiful Saturday morning, I decided to have a look at the old city center first. It's medieval city walls are visible from te train station already, and a great orientation as one is making their first steps in an unfamiliar surrounding.
To get to the old town center, I then walked the Way of Human Rights. Created on the street that divides the old and new part of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, the white concrete pillars are engraved with articles of the Universal Decleration of Human Rights in numerous languages. 
As I was eager to see the city itself, I decided to skip the museum and continued towards the church of St. Lawrence. To say its gothic facade is stunning would be an understatement, but in the end it was the interior that convinced me - partly to the fact that even with the sun shining bright, it was quite cold due to the icy wind.
Facing the main altar, a huge wood carving of the Angelic Salutation by Veit Stoss. Who'd have thought it was once considered to be a "disgrace" to the city?
Outside again, it was time to move deeper into the old city center. Speaking of time: considering the numerous sun dials, I guess Nürnberg must be a sunny city to live in.
Hospital of the Holy Spirit. Once a large medieval hospital, now retirement home and restaurant. 
Detail of the Narrenschiffbrunnen...
... And more of the city center.
As it was still quite cold and windy, I decided to hide in another church - only to find out the inside of St. Sebaldus church was even colder. After a rather quick look on its decorations, I decided to head outside and go back to the main market.
Nürnberg market square. In its upper part, it's dominated by the Beautiful fountain, a polular meeting place. The fountain's colourful figures represent biblical figures as well as royalty, personifications of liberal arts and legendary figures. And if one spins the seemingly intact brass ring in the fence, it is said to bring good luck. 
Right across the market however lies the Church of Our Lady which dominates the lower part of the square. Its prominent facade is special already, but the rather small place of worship also has a very bright and friendly interior. And as I happened to overhear a tourist guide mentioning the hour of noon, I decided to just stick around and see what will happen. After the clock has struck, the various figures began playing their instruments while a procession of prince-electors passed the enthroned Holy Roman Emperor. Turns out the spectacle is appropriately called "Männleinlaufen" :)
Next stop: Nürnber Castle. A group of three castles actually, it's overlooking the city and offers much to be explored. Since I had plans for the rest of the day already, I decided to stroll around in its courtyards and leave the interior for my next visit. 
After a whole day on my feet, it was time to head back to the city again and get on the public transport. If one is not as happy (or able) to walk as me, Nürnberg's attractions can be reached comfortably by using Bus 36 that passes most of the landmarks and even drives inside the pedestrian zone of the old city center. 
I however took off to the very outskirt of the city. An evil spectator like me might say it's no wonder that the city focuses so much on its glorious far-behind past because the more recent history leaves nothing to be proud of. But to be fair, one has to say they did a good job on displaying the unpleasant parts, too. 
I had no idea about what to expect when I entered the Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds, probably some kind of "it was built like this but it doesn't serve that purpose anymore" thing. What I got was a gripping exhibition on how is it possible for a regime like that to rise and maintain itself over the years. And unlike a concentration camp that makes you numb halfway throughout the museum, one feels the need of fresh air here, a sudden urge  to escape the dark walls, to go back to a normal world and un-think the scary parallels to various autocratic regimes in making that can be seen today.
Behind the megalomanic congress hall, a lake of ice and brown mud is probably closest to the feelings that remain...
On the other side of the pond, A huge wall of pillars mark the beginning of the Zeppelinfeld. Nowadays covered with neglected grass and stairs that are used by skateboarders, one can only imagine how it must have looked with hundreds of thousands of people blindly call for hatred and desttruction.
At least the skies turned into a peaceful evening with beautiful colours above the empty lake...
The colourful tram however already indicated my Sunday plans.

~ to be continued ~