The Football Connoisseur's Guide Everything's Smaller in Nuremberg

Best known internationally for the role it played under Adolf Hitler, the city of Nuremberg is now full of charm. Fans visiting the town will find everything they need -- just on a smaller scale. 

Nuremberg's cozy Franconia stadium.

Nuremberg's cozy Franconia stadium.

Nuremberg’s sporting days of grandeur lie in the distant past. Stories of the nine championships won by 1. FC Nuremberg have lost none of their charm, but the newspaper reports of those triumphs have been consigned to the “ancient German history“ archive. Not that this bothers the proud Franconians, even if the only living witnesses of the glory days are well into their pension funds. A minor detail, and anyway, the club (or the Club, as it is known) is currently in the top league once again and their striker Marek Mintal topped the scoring charts last season.

Nuremberg’s international renown has little to do with the club’s valiant performances in European competition, but a lot to do with political history. Its darkest hours came with fascism, when Adolf Hitler gathered his troops here for the Nuremberg Rally. The allies’ response to this dubious honor was an intensive wave of air raids, destroying almost all of the Old Town in the process. After the fall of the Third Reich, Nuremberg was the scene of the War Crime Trials and has thus become one of the few German towns that children in the English speaking world are familar with. On a brighter note, Nuremberg’s annual Christmas market (Christkindlmarkt) is also world famous, as is the Nuremberg gingerbread consumed there.

The stadium

Like Berlin and Stuttgart, the Frankenstadion has a running track around the pitch. Built in 1928, the arena has been renovated over and over but the track remains. 45,000 fans can fit into the ground, making it one of the smaller World Cup venues. But the media and VIPs have three floors all to themselves. All in all, the fans are happy with their stadium, although the scoreboard is a little passé, a throwback to an era before video cubes and technicolor. A masterpiece of eighties German engineering.

Where else can I watch the football?

The official FIFA Fanfest will be taking place on the Volksfestplatz, which amounts to a double dose of torture for the ticketless, as you can actually see the Frankenstadion from here.

Another place to hang on every word of the ARD and ZDF commentaries is the “Kulturzentrum K4“ (Königstrasse 93), equipped with several televisions and one big screen outside. As the name suggests, various cultural sideshows are to be expected.

The “Lederer Kulturbrauerei“ (Sielstrasse 12) is a good spot to relax and take in the action on one of the smaller screens or the two big ones. If it starts raining, that’s just one more good reason to enjoy the atmosphere in this historic inn, sipping a Lederer Pils as the match kicks off.

“Shamrock“ (Luitpoldstrasse 16) is an Irish pub with five televisions, two big screens and, when England are playing, several thousand thirsty Three Lions supporters, no doubt.

Football sightseeing

Nuremberg is the headquarters of the German Football Academy of Culture, the Deutsche Akademie für Fussballkultur. Plenty to see then. The Kulturzentrum K4 will be one particular focal point during the World Cup, hosting the Ballazzo, the cultural counterpart to the football matches. Never mind the fancy name, this promises to be a multi-faceted programme of music, theater, cabaret and parties throughout the competition. K4 is immediately opposite the main railway station.

Travellers who think Germany is nothing more than a short break in a long, hot summer need to pay a visit to the Bildungszentrum (Gewerbemuseumsplatz 2) for a crash course in German footballing history. Close attention shall be given to the formative years and the foundations on which three World Cup titles were built.

Guided tours are usually aimed at or overrun by pensioners and noisy groups of schoolchildren but in Nuremberg you too can join the fun. In June, there will be tours of historical sporting sites, featuring ancient football curiosities.

At St. Leonhard’s Cemetery (Friedhof),in Webersgasse 21,you can visit the grave of one of Germany’s international heroes, Max Morlock, who scored in the World Cup final known as the Miracle of Bern (now immortalized in a successful cinema production). Nuremberg’s greatest player of all time passed away twelve years ago.

If your footballing feet are starting to itch, jog along to Wöhrder Wiese, the Hackney Marshes of Nuremberg. Not quite that big, perhaps, but you should find enough games going on where you can help to make up the numbers.

Croatia versus Japan. Now what?

We begin with the regular sights to be seen. Top of the pile, the Albrecht Dürer Haus. Dürer’s praying hands could help German fans through the group stages and perhaps even further. Up above the Old Town stand the Kaiserburg where heraldic halls and echoes of Barbarossa’s opulent lifestyle may be observed. Another historical gem of a building is the Tucherschloss (Hirschelgasse 9-11). The patrician’s house was destroyed in World War II but has been faithfully, gloriously restored, offering a deep insight into the life of Nuremberg’s merchant class back in the days. Revisit your childhood, or somebody elses, at the toy museum - Spielzeugmuseum (Karlstrasse 13 – 15). You’ll get hooked by the model railways on the second floor but there is much more to see and, who knows, maybe you can have a nostalgic game of Tipp-Kick (Germany’s answer to Subbuteo) in the World Cup Weeks. Should one at any time encounter the undesirable elements of the far right, one might hope to correct their historical distortions by sending them to the Dokumentationszentrum Reichstagsgelände (Bayernstrasse 10). This documentation centre seeks to inform and educate about Nuremberg’s National Socialist past in an intelligent manner and is highly recommended.

Good Cooking

Local specialities are Nuremberg sausages (Rostbratwürste) and gingerbread (Lebkuchen), although not necessarily on the same plate. The latter is more of a winter habit in any case, and seeing as you will not be able to avoid sausages, whichever way you turn, we are going to suggest some alternatives.

Doner kebabs for starters. The archetypal kiosk with almost no room to stand, but a flashy flatscreen on the wall and high-pitched techno banging away, masking the fact that the cook can’t tell what you are saying anyway. You are better off at Atlantik-Döner (Karolinenstraße 43/45) where the kebabs are cheap and cheerful and the ambience more authentically Turkish. Feel free to try other items on the menu.

Time has paid little attention to the Orient-Express (Kernstrasse 5). It will take more than a World Cup to throw Ali Zibi off his rhythm. He always has time for a chat, which is just as well, seeing as the food is not as fast as fast food is normally considered to be. We’re not on the railway station here, just going with the flow. This Lebanese treasure is closed on Sundays.

By way of contrast, Losteria (Pirckheimer Strasse 116) is a tight fit, it is loud and boisterous, a proper Italian pizzeria. Expect to have to wait for a table in the evenings, but you will get to tuck into the biggest pizza in town.

Floodlit Nuremberg

“Treibhaus“ (Karl-Grillenberger-Strasse 28) is a U shaped bar full of plants and an ideal haven for pre and post-match relaxation. Now a classic on the Nuremberg nightlife scene, so busy during the week as well as at weekends. The party crowd tends to flock to Vogelweiherstrasse and pile into Hirschen (Vogelweiherstrasse 66), famed for its dressing up frivolities such as Thekenschlampen-Parties (bar hooker sessions) where the drinks flow freely. Or they go next door to Rakete (Vogelweiherstrasse 64) for reggae, dancehall, rock, electronica, the whole caboodle so long as you can dance to it. Kitted out with a snacks kiosk, a terrace table football and space to chill, what better place to spend the night? Cubano (Innere Laufer Gasse 13) is a restaurant (upstairs) and a club (down below). Cuban cuisine followed by Salsa and Merengue, this place gets lively after nine, when the bottles behind the bar start dancing. No dress code but don’t go down in your oldest football shirt.

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