Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Fountains of Nuremberg

Schöner Brunnen
Nuremberg was a Renaissance hub of printing and publishing. Albrecht Durer circa 1500, doyen of the woodcut, was among the first to make a living as an artist outside of Italy with his stunningly detailed prints. You can go to his house and print one of his creations, a hare.

And, I was wondering where Nuremberg kept its treasures safe from the bombing in 1945. Turns out, there’s an entrance to the rock cut cellars, just a couple of steps from Durer’s house. The cellars are cut into solid rock, under the castle, and served as air raid shelters as well as providing secure storage.

Among the surviving treasures is the Beautiful Fountain (Schöner Brunnen), the original constructed in 1390. This iconic structure houses forty figures that represent the world of the Holy Roman Empire. It was intended to grace the spire on Frauenkirche across the Hauptmarkt from it, but the townspeople loved it and wanted it in plain view so it became a fountain. Tourists are tempted to spin the bronze ring set on the outer grille clockwise 3 times, and make a wish, and who could resist. It’s hard to take a picture of the Fountain without a tourist hanging off the grill!

Outside St Lawrence Church sits the Tugendbrunnen (Fountain of Virtue) from the 16th Century. The six virtues (Faith, Hope, Love, Temperance, Generosity & Patience) project water through their nipples (the water of human kindness, perhaps?) while Justice looks down on them from above.

Ship of Fools
The more modern fountains take a darker view of life, although they do reflect on medieval Europe…

The Ship of Fools (Das Narrenschiff) mostly plays host to youngsters, and looks as innocent as a child’s toy, but a closer look reveals an uglier side to the 1977 sculpture by Jürgen Weber.  In fact, it depicts a violent end to the world and is based on an Albrecht Durer woodcut of a medieval poem. With the banished Adam and Eve holding their toddler Cain, already brandishing a knife, it’s an attack on the Catholic Church, so a fitting subject for Lutheran, Nuremberg.

Ehekarussell - Final Scene!
The ‘Marriage-Merry-Go-Round (Ehekarussell)’ from 1984 is a grand satire showing scenes from married life that start out well enough but degenerate through gluttony and debauchery into madness and mayhem. Also based on a medieval poem, the accompanying creatures reinforce the atmosphere of each scene. Controversial, reviled, yet so popular it was hard to get clear photos. It's also by sculptor Jürgen Weber, and it left me wondering if he’d had a difficult divorce!

It was the end of the day and the temperature had cooled to the mid 20’s, Celsius; we were hungry. We left the hotel and walked along the outside of the wall that encloses the old city. We were seeking the source of music – through an entrance, up some steps, and into the KulturGarten, sat high within the wall. It’s a large outside beer-garden serving food, drink, and live music; packed with locals. I bought our beer, liquor and food tickets from a large, friendly, bearded guy and then walked to the various counters to pick up. Surrounded by trees, the central area was full of picnic tables but we opted for one of the discrete Lucky Strike ‘loveseats’ and people-watched. If it hadn’t been for the music I doubt we would have found it. Despite it being a Wednesday night, the place was pulsating – we hated to get up and leave.

Spittlertor, One of the Tower Gates in Nuremberg City Wall


  1. Hi Bob,

    If you make it back to Germany, make sure you include Köln or Cologne. The Cathedral Treasure Vault is bigger than the Vatican's, although the Vatican museum more than makes up for that deficit. The Cologne Karnival is also a pretty wild time.

    I've lived in Cologne for about 5 years now and the city and surrounding area still holds many surprises.

    All the Best,

    1. That sounds great. I have been in Köln Cathedral but didn’t know of the vault. Glad to hear you’re enjoying life there - it’s very different from Southern Alberta! All the best to you.

  2. There are some great Halloween pictures in there!


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