Charming Nuremberg (or Nürnberg in German) is steeped in history. This Bavarian city dates back to 1050 and is the site of some of the most significant events in Germany. Famed Renaissance artists have called it home, as well as the leaders of Nazi Germany. Nuremberg's many museums cover this impressive span of the city's highs and lows and are an essential stop on any visit.
Documentation Centre Nazi Party Rally Grounds
Along with its iconic Christmas market, Nuremberg is well-known for something a little less festive. The city was at the center of Hitler's plans for the Third Reich. The Nazi Party Rally Grounds are located just outside the city center. Though never fully realized, the buildings and stands are an impressive example of the domineering architecture Hitler preferred.
Visitors can explore the grounds and read about the site in the permanent exhibition, "Fascination and Terror," in the museum located in the north wing of the Nazi congress hall. There is a lot to take in from the Nuremberg Racial Laws of 1935 to the trials that also took place in Nuremberg in 1945 and 46. There are guided tours of the site every weekend.
If you want to know more about the trials, continue to Memorium Nurnberger Prozesse. This exhibition is located above the original court at the Palace of Justice, which is still in use today. To visit the courtroom itself, plan to visit on a weekend.
World War II Art Bunker
That Nuremberg's museums contain anything at all is a small wonder. The city was almost completely destroyed during World War II and it is only by storing the art in tunnels beneath the city that anything was saved. The network of rock passages was originally created in the Middle Ages but worked perfectly to protect the cathedral's stained glass windows, one of the first globes ever made, works from local Albrecht Dürer, along with other precious art pieces. All were all tucked away to hide until the end of the war and are now proudly displayed once again.
The Historic Art Bunker (Historischer Kunstbunker) is located beneath the castle almost 78 feet deep into the earth. Tours are only available with a guide and offer a look into the underground museum, as well as the Altarpiece of Veit Stoss, the Imperial Regalia, the Automaton clock from the Frauenkirche, the Erdapfel, and the Codex Manesse.
Nuremberg's Toy Museum is more than a place to play. It covers the history of toys with a collection of nearly 90,000 objects. Nuremberg is a fitting location because of its many local toy industry during the industrial age. The focus is on the development of the toy starting with antique dolls, cars, and trains on the ground floor and continuing onto modern favorites like Barbie, Playmobil and Matchbox cars upstairs. Of course, if you want to do more than look at toys, you can see them in action in the museum's children’s area.
The Germanic National Museum covers the range of German history from prehistoric times to modernity. Their massive collection of 1.2 million objects make it the country’s largest museum of cultural history. Explore its halls decked in rare works like that of favorite local Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt, the first pocket watch, historical instruments, and the world’s oldest surviving globe.
Stop before entering the museum to gaze at the Way of Human Rights (Straße der Menschenrechte). Towering 26-foot-tall pillars are engraved with articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in a variety of languages. This sculpture is part of the city's effort to illustrate that it is much more than its Nazi connections.
Albrecht Dürer’s House
Albrecht Dürer is Nuremberg's favorite son. He is the country’s most celebrated Renaissance artist and his home in the city is now a museum showcasing his finest work. The historic Fachwerkhaus from 1420 was restored in 1909. Heavily damaged in WWII, it was rebuilt in 1949 but did not reopen until 1971 on Dürer's 500th birthday. The house is Germany's first artist's memorial site.
The interior is decorated in the style of the period when Dürer lived here from 1509 to his death in 1528. Along with his sketches and paintings, the museum features a painting and printing workshop highlighting Dürer’s techniques. An audio tour is available, as well as periodic guided tours led by an actress playing Agnes Dürer, the wife of the artist.
Neues Museum Nürnberg
This museum highlights the city’s best art and design within a magnificent building of glass, designed by famed architect Volker Staab. Opened in 2000, the exhibition area covers more than 32,000 square feet. A spectacular spiral staircase leads the way to the works of artists from Richard Lindner to Jirí Kdár to Andy Warhol, featured along with the art movements of Zero and Fluxus from the post-war era to the present day. Atop the museum there are working beehives and visitors can take home a jar of Stadtgold honey from the museum shop.
There is also a busy events program and an educational department at the Neues Museum. Or you can visit on Sundays for the museum's discount one euro admission.
One of the best ways to travel in Germany is by rail and the national railway company, Deutsche Bahn, has a museum dedicated to it in Nuremberg. The city served as the birthplace of the German railway. At the museum, visitors can follow the development of the modern train system. Along with improvements in engineering, the museum displays royal compartments used by King Ludwig II, the railway's infamous use under the Nazi regime, changes in working conditions, and more.
Featuring acclaimed art from Germany and abroad, Kunsthalle Nürnberg is a destination for lovers of contemporary art. The museum was founded in 1967 and opened with an exhibition of works by American sculptor David Smith. Since that first exhibition, Kunsthalle has been hosting contemporary work by international artists. KunstKulturQuartier has operated the museum since 2008 and maintains a full schedule of exhibitions and artistic events for music, dance, cinema, theater, and art.
City Museum in Fembohaus
The City Museum in Fembohaus (Stadtmuseum im Fembo-Haus) provides the comprehensive 950-year history of the city. Located in the city’s only surviving Renaissance merchant house, it has served as the city's museum since 1953. It holds nearly 30 rooms of artifacts, audio facts, and a wooden model of the Old Town.