Germany’s highlight: Nördlingen
Germany’s highlight: Nördlingen
First mentioned in 898, the Bavarian town of Nördlingen was established in a 15 million-year-old meteorite crater, thus giving the town its identifiable circular shape. This gem of a town is like something out of a fairytale, with half-timbered houses, cobblestone streets and incredible architecture ranging from the Renaissance to Baroque styles. Let your travels through Germany take you down the Romantic Road right to this delightful little town.
Did you know that the crater in which the town lies, Ries crater, is a great source of suevite? This is a rock material containing tiny diamonds. An estimated 72,000 tons of diamonds were created when the asteroid hit. Without knowing it, citizens of Nördlingen built many of their structures with this material left over from the asteroid. Before you start seeing dollar signs and imagining buildings sparkling in the sun, take into consideration that these diamonds can only be seen with a microscope and have no economic value. Don’t let this disappoint you.
There are plenty of reasons to see Nördlingen, including the complete medieval wall with a covered sentry’s walk. This wall was built around 1327 and is one of only three towns in Germany with an intact city wall. The other two towns are Dinkelsbühl and Rothenburg ob der Tauber. However, the Nördlingen wall is the most complete and best-preserved. In about an hour, you can take a leisurely stroll around the entire city without ever leaving the wall. The entire loop is just under two miles.
While on your walk, you may notice a church steeple dominating the skyline in the town center. It belongs to the Gothic 15th-century church St. George’s, one of the town’s oldest buildings. This steeple is called Daniel and is 295 feet high. The church was built between 1427 - 1505 and features Gothic design with vaults, pillars, wood carvings and an organ gallery. For those wanting a sweeping view of the surrounding area, climb 350 steps to the top of Daniel’s tower. Once there, admire the traditional red pitched roofs and cafes sitting along cobblestone sidewalks.
Be sure to stop and admire the Rathaus (town hall) during your visit, which was built in 1313. It is the oldest stone-built house in the town but has undergone several renovations. Other buildings to look for include the Spital, a former medieval hospital and the city museum, located in the former Holy Spirit Hospital. You’ll also see various other 16th and 17th century houses.
While exploring the town you are sure to get hungry. Stop at Pizzeria Espressobar - La Fontana for a delicious lunch. This brightly colored building is not easily missed and features a menu of pizza and pasta that is sure to satisfy your cravings. In the summer you can dine in front of the restaurant. Finish up your meal with ice cream, cake or a cappuccino as you relax and watch the people walk by.
This German town is quite literally a diamond in the rough. Plan on doing some walking as you explore everything this area has to offer. Admire the wall, towering church steeple and beautiful architecture that surround you in Nördlingen.
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