Germany Day Trips: Nördlingen

Germany Day Trips: Nördlingen

by Jessica Zen
Stripes Europe

There are a variety of reasons to visit the charming town of Nördlingen. Not only is it part of the Romantic Road, but it is also home to one of three complete medieval walls left in Germany. This wall in particular has a fully covered sentry’s walk, allowing visitors to circle the entire town. While strolling around the wall, take note of the church steeple dominating the skyline in the town center. It belongs to the Gothic, 15th century St. George’s Church. This steeple is called Daniel and stands at 295 feet high. For an even more stunning view of the surrounding area, climb the 350 steps to the top of the steeple. Once there, admire the traditional red pitched roofs, half-timbered buildings and cafés sitting along cobblestone sidewalks. Inside St. George’s Church is a Baroque altar with an elaborate carved and painted crucifix. Unique to this town is the night watchman who still calls out “So G’sell so,” which over centuries has come to mean “all’s well.” This alert is repeated every hour from 10 p.m. until midnight, reassuring the citizens of Nördlingen that they can sleep peacefully.

First mentioned as early as the year 898, the town of Nördlingen was established in a 15 million-year-old meteorite crater, thus giving the town its identifiable circular shape. Ries crater is also a great source of suevite, a rock material containing tiny diamonds. Without knowing it, citizens of Nördlingen built many of their structures with this material that was left over from the asteroid. An estimated 72,000 tons of diamonds were created when the asteroid collided with earth.  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. This German town is quite literally a diamond in the rough.

For those interested in learning more about science and the crater itself, the Ries Crater Museum is dedicated to just that. Housed in a 16th century barn with six rooms in the city center, the museum includes collections of genuine moon rock from Apollo 16 and other exhibits featuring the impact and formation of craters. Another local museum is the Bavarian Railway museum, based out of the old locomotive sheds at the train station. Since 1985 this museum has been home to over 100 original railway vehicles and is any train enthusiasts heaven. There are plenty of opportunities to experience history first-hand and learn a little something along the way in this quaint German town.

One of the best parts about Nördlingen is that it has all the charm of the more known town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, but significantly less people. Take the time to enjoy the historic, scientific and cultural side of this beautiful town without the crush of tourists. It’s not every day that you can step foot in a 15 million-year-old crater and walk around a fully functioning medieval wall. Don’t waste this opportunity to explore yet another fascinating German town!

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