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Home Page > Travelogues > Germany > Bayern > Nuremberg > Sebald


State of Bayern (Bavaria)

Sebald -- The Festive Part of Nuremberg


State of Bayern (Bavaria)

One-time visitor to Nuremberg were most likely to spend their time in the Sebald district, which ran from the north bank of the Pegnitz River up to the Kaiserburg.  This was where most of the downtown festivals ware held, and where the Frauenkirche and the main market square resided.  But, there was a lot in this part that is hidden -- islands, old bridges, interesting museums, etc. -- that begged one to go off the beaten track.  This chapter in Nuremberg goes all around Sebald starting from where the Lorenz chapter left off, crossing the Pegnitz on Koenigstrasse.  It will then follow up to the Kaiserburg (where that chapter takes over) and then resume down the western wall of the city back to the Weisser Turm just south of the Pegnitz.


The Koenigsbruecke (bridge) was our first stopping point, and this photograph shows how the Saturday markets sprawled over this part of the Koenigstrasse.  Looking westward from the bridge, we saw the gorgeous red sandstone Fleischbruecke arching high over the river.  On the north side in between was a modern restaurant and hotel with an outdoor café.  To the east was the Heilig-Geist-Spital, an old hospital that encroaches over half the river as the Pegnitz splits.  In the middle ages, it served as the home of a Catholic welfare foundation.

Once across the Koenigbruecke, we came upon one of those abstract sculptures that modern Germans seemed to like placing in cities.  This was was macabre, seemingly to represent the inhumanity from the days before and during World War II.  The Koenigstrasse led straight ahead to the main market square -- while to the right was a second market square that held the Childrens' Christmas Market during Advent season.


Continuing on Koenigstrasse brought us to the Hauptmarkt, Nuremberg's main town market square.  The Hauptmarkt contained two of the city's best known landmarks -- the Frauenkirche, shown below at left, and the Schoener Brunnen, shown below at right. These two structures provided just the perfect setting for Nuremberg's many festivals.  Her annual Christmas Market was the largest and most popular in the world, but she also celebrated the wine season, the spargel (German white asparagus) season, and harvest time.  The scene here showed a traditional Frankish horn band playing happy tunes during the Franconian wine festival.  Unfortunately for history buffs, the remainder of the Hauptmarkt was not original, having to be replaced after the war.  But it was a good place to go to eat and buy souvenirs.

The Frauenkirche was very different from most churches seen around Germany.  That was because it's purpose was specific, it was the home of the Imperial crown jewels for a period of time (the church in the Heilig-Geist-Spital also stored the crown jewels).  It's interior is very short, holding only about three hundred people.  Much of the interior had to be reconstructed after the war, but there's plenty of old artwork to be seen -- restored murals on the pillars and sculptures over the doors.  Outside, there is a very colorful clock that is visible in the photo.  Below it is a diorama that moves at noon each day -- the tourist information bulletin describes it as a sequence of seven Electors honoring the King).

The term "Schoener Brunnen" literally meant "beautiful well".  It was an artesian well that was decorated with some forty figurines of Nuremberger royalty.  As this picture shows, it was incredibly elaborate and loud, painted primarily in bright old gold with dark reds and greens.  Maintenance of this well must have been a terrible burden, thus a wrought-iron fence kept visitors a safe distance away nowadays.  But that didn't prevent one from tossing coins into it per American tradition... :-)

We followed the Burgstrasse from the Schoener Brunnen up the hill toward the Kaiserburg.  There were several landmarks along the way.  The third photograph shows the Saint Sebaldus Church (from whence the Sebald district is named).  Beneath this impressive church lay a small brown hut with umbrellas.  This is a rather unique restaurant known as the Bratwurst House.  It lay claim as the site where the famous Nuremberger bratwurst was invented (Nuremberger bratwursts are white pork sausages roughly the size of small breakfast sausages in the US). 

St. Sebaldus faced the current Nuremberger Rathaus that also contains a town dungeon museum.  Behind the Rathaus was a nice secondary market square that ordinarily hosts outdoor cafés, but also hosted an part of the Christmas Market dedicated to Nuremberg's numerous partner cities around the world.

After visiting the Kaiserburg, we returned along Karlstrasse past the Toy Museum (Spielzeugmuseum) which is a family attraction that we've heard about but didn't have time to enter. 

The Troedelmarkt was another island on the Pegnitz.  It was a small oval-shaped island lined with houses along both sides, leaving a cobblestone market place in the middle.  This photograph shows the island from the Fleischbruecke.  In 2002, Tom encountered an Italian Festival taking place at night.  The inner market square had a few Italian food booths and Italian music playing under a starlit night with about a hundred people in attendance.  Although the Troedelmarkt was near the downtown, it was just off the beaten track enough that intimate affairs were possible.  

We concluded our Sebald district tour by following the Pegnitz west to the Westtormauer.  We followed Unterkreuzgasse on the south bank past a couple of outdoor cafés overlooking the river, then came upon this scene.  This shot included the so-called Hangman Bridge with an old wine depot.  Beyond this is the Westtor, a very large combination city gate and bridge with a modern footbridge across it.  In between are a series of old brick and half-timber structures from the past century that have survived rather well.

These two photographs show additional scenes from the western Pegnitz.  The photo at left shows some of the old-style residences sitting high over the river, while the right photograph is a better view of Hangman's Bridge. 

Other attractions in the Sebald district could be found in the less-traveled northeast, such as the University grounds and the Aegidienkirche.  Plus, the Weinmarkt near the Toy Museum was a great place for high-class eateries without a lot of tourists.  But whatever you do, if you go to Nuremberg looking for a festival, go north of the Pegnitz.  Chances are you'll find one. 

Trips taken 26 August 2000, 22-23 June 2002, and 15-16 May 2004 -- Page last updated 01 September 2006

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