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Die Kaiserburg in Nürnberg, Bild: Dan Race / shutterstock

Imperial Castle Nuremberg – Landmark of the City

The Nuremberg Imperial Castle is located on a small sandstone ridge and overlooks Sebald’s old town and the craftsmen’s quarter of Nuremberg. It forms part of the city fortifications and borders on the Neutorgraben and the Vestnertorgraben. The first written mention of the castle can only be found in documents from 1105, when King Henry V was able to conquer the fortifications. In the next 500 years, the castle was of enormous importance, because all emperors and kings of the Holy Roman Empire spent their time here, at least for a short time. It can be assumed that the castle had even existed a good 100 years earlier. Archaeological investigations have also provided evidence that there are also earlier buildings below the castle, which can be dated to before 1000 AD.

The history of Nuremberg Castle

After the conquest of the castle by King Henry V, it was owned by the Salians for a little more than 100 years. In 1138, however, it was lost to the Swabian rulers. Under this reign, the importance of the castle grew massively. Numerous reconstruction measures were accompanied by a restructuring of the surrounding county. The decline of the Hohenstaufen dynasty brought with it renewed battles for the castle and changing owners, until the castle had finally lost its importance in the 16th century. Nevertheless, some other important episodes in the history of the castle should be mentioned. During the Thirty Years’ War, for example, an unsuccessful siege of Nuremberg and the castle took place. At the beginning of the 19th century, Nuremberg Castle was handed over to the Kingdom of Bavaria, which in turn had to give up control of the castle after a defeat by the Prussians. Damage caused to the castle during the two world wars has now been restored, so that the castle has become a popular destination for tourists.

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Important buildings of Nuremberg Castle

The Nuremberg Imperial Castle
Inside the Imperial Castle, Image: Vitalii Vitleo / shutterstock

On a tour of the castle, you will encounter all kinds of historical buildings. The imperial chapel dates from the early 13th century. This is impressively enthroned on an elevation and contributes significantly to the imposing image of Nuremberg Castle. Here, among other things, an altar with Veit Stoss ́ crucifix can be visited.

The fortifications of the castle are also impressive. In the 16th century, these were strengthened: three bastions were built for this purpose. Its massive walls were primarily intended to provide protection against the increasingly advanced artillery.

The so-called imperial stables are also interesting. This is a two-storey building, which has five attics on top of each other, which probably served as granaries. The ground floor housed the imperial stables. However, it is worth mentioning that the building visible today is a reconstruction from the 20th century, as it was completely destroyed in the Second World War. Today there is a youth hostel in the stables.

The Luginsland Towers and the Pentagonal Tower are also eye-catching buildings of Nuremberg Castle. These give a good feeling about how the castle must have looked in its heyday. Above all, their architectural peculiarities are of great interest. The biggest highlight of the tour, however, is certainly the Palas with the imperial apartments. Large halls and living rooms can be visited here.

Exhibitions in the Imperial Castle Nuremberg

The castle houses a branch of the Germanic National Museum. Original exhibits from the weapon collection of Nuremberg Castle are presented here. In addition to weapons, armor and riding gear, astronomical measuring instruments and everyday objects are also on display.

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The permanent exhibition “Emperor – Empire – City” is also housed in the Imperial Castle. Here, the exhibition objects are used to explain the functioning of the city of Nuremberg in the period from the Middle Ages to modern times.