Nuremberg (or Nürnberg in German) isn't all Christmas markets, grisly Nazi history, and little finger wieners. It is also the site of some seriously cool public art that has not been without controversy. Here are 5 of the best sculptures and fountains in this quintessential German city.
Where: Am Hauptmarkt
Aptly named "The Beautiful Fountain", this is a highlight of the central market square in Nürnberg. It was designed in the 1380s by Heinrich Beheim, a stonemason, and was intended to top the Frauenkirche. Upon completion, the townspeople decided it was too glorious to be so far removed and it was transformed into a fountain. It still stands there today, though original pieces have been preserved in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum with immaculate copies on display for the public.
Now a popular meeting point for locals and tourists, it stands at an impressive 19 meters (62 feet) high and is bedecked in gold. There are 42 stone statues surrounding the fountain that depict allegorical figures, churchmen, electors, and heroes. While the figures are out of reach, a seamless copper ring on the north side of the fence is accessible. It has been rubbed to a golden hue from people's touch as they turn it full circle and make their wishes for the future.
Where: Near Tiergartentor
On first glance, Der Hase (The Hare) by Jürgen Goertz appears quite bizarre. One of the newest figures in this medieval city, the statue shows a crazed bronze rabbit stumbling and crushing at least one human (possibly Albrecht Dürer?) beneath him. Many visitors walk out of the castle walls to find this peculiar statue and stop, puzzled. It has been described as “one of the world’s ugliest pieces of public art."
The statue is actually an ode to Nürnberg’s favorite son, Albrecht Dürer. The artist was born, lived, and died in this city. Though it appears much less quaint, it is inspired by Dürer's painting of Der Feldhase (The Rabbit). The statue is located near Albrecht Dürer Haus which is now a museum dedicated to the artist.
Where: Corner of Plbenhofstrasse and Bischoff Meiserstrasse
Named the "Ship of Fools", this bronze statue of a boat carrying seven people, a skeleton, and a dog is planted in a main pathway and catches the eye of travelers. Based on a popular sixteenth-century book by Sebastian Brant, this piece was sculpted by Juergen Weber off of woodcuts by favorite Albrecht Dürer.
This gloomy sculpture shows an expelled Adam and Eve, their murderous son Cain, and other violent figures. It is a scene showing the destruction of the world.
Where: Pedestrian shopping area next to the White Tower
This grotesque sculpture is the "Marriage Merry-Go-Round." This image of wedded bliss from courtship to skeletons was created in 1984 and has been called everything from hilarious to vulgar. Another piece by sculptor Jürgen Weber, it is based on a poem entitled “Bittersweet Married Life” by 16th century Nürnberg poet, Hans Sachs. It is one of the largest European figure fountains of the 20th Century and came at a tremendous cost (creating grumbles from the townsfolk).
An interesting note about the fountain is that it actually disguises a subway ventilation shaft!
Where: Near the intersection of Königstrasse and Lorenzerplatz
The "Fountain of Virtue" dates back to the Renaissance in 1589. Six virtues (faith, love, hope, courage, moderation, and patience) embody their trait as chubby cherubs are caught in flight overhead.
But beware! There is easy-to-miss controversy as there is no virtue of modesty. The waters of the fountain pump directly through each of the figure's nipples.