Nuremberg was, according to the first documentary mention of the city in 1050, the location of an Imperial castle between the East Franks and the Bavarian March of the Nordgau. From 1050 to 1571, the city expanded and rose dramatically in importance due to its location on key trade routes. King Conrad III established a burgraviate, with the first burgraves coming from the Austrian House of Raab but, with the extinction of their male line around 1190, the burgraviate was inherited by the last count's son-in-law, of the House of Hohenzollern. From the late 12th century to the Interregnum (1254–73), however, the power of the burgraves diminished as the Hohenstaufen emperors transferred most non-military powers to a castellan, with the city administration and the municipal courts handed over to an Imperial mayor (German: Reichsschultheiß) from 1173/74. The strained relations between the burgraves and the castellan, with gradual transferral of powers to the latter in the late 14th and early 15th centuries, finally broke out into open enmity, which greatly influenced the history of the city.
Nuremberg is often referred to as having been the 'unofficial capital' of the Holy Roman Empire, particularly because Imperial Diet (Reichstag) and courts met at Nuremberg Castle. The Diets of Nuremberg were an important part of the administrative structure of the empire. The increasing demand of the royal court and the increasing importance of the city attracted increased trade and commerce to Nuremberg. In 1219, Frederick II granted the Großen Freiheitsbrief (Great Letter of Freedom), including town rights, Imperial immediacy (Reichsfreiheit), the privilege to mint coins, and an independent customs policy, almost wholly removing the city from the purview of the burgraves. Nuremberg soon became, with Augsburg, one of the two great trade centers on the route from Italy to Northern Europe.
In 1298, the Jews of the town were accused of having desecrated the host, and 698 of them were killed in one of the many Rintfleisch Massacres. Behind the massacre of 1298 was also the desire to combine the northern and southern parts of the city, which were divided by the Pegnitz. The Jews of the German lands suffered many massacres during the plague years. In 1349, Nuremberg's Jews were subjected to a pogrom. They were burned at the stake or expelled, and a marketplace was built over the former Jewish quarter.
The plague returned to the city in 1405, 1435, 1437, 1482, 1494, 1520 and 1534.
The largest gains for Nuremberg were in the 14th century; including Charles IV's Golden Bull of 1356, naming Nuremberg as the city where newly elected kings of Germany must hold their first Imperial Diet, making Nuremberg one of the three most important cities of the Empire. Charles was the patron of the Frauenkirche, built between 1352 and 1362 (the architect was likely Peter Parler), where the Imperial court worshipped during its stays in Nuremberg. The royal and Imperial connection was strengthened when Sigismund of Luxembourg granted the Imperial regalia to be kept permanently in Nuremberg in 1423, where they remained until 1796, when the advancing French troops required their removal to Regensburg and thence to Vienna.
In 1349 the members of the guilds unsuccessfully rebelled against the patricians in the Handwerkeraufstand (Craftsmen's Uprising), supported by merchants and some councillors, leading to a ban on any self-organisation of the artisans in the city, abolishing the guilds that were customary elsewhere in Europe; the unions were then dissolved, and the oligarchs remained in power while Nuremberg was a free city. Charles IV conferred upon the city the right to conclude alliances independently, thereby placing it upon a politically equal footing with the princes of the empire. Frequent fights took place with the burgraves without, however, inflicting lasting damage upon the city. After the castle had been destroyed by fire in 1420 during a feud between Frederick IV (since 1417 margrave of Brandenburg) and the duke of Bavaria-Ingolstadt, the ruins and the forest belonging to the castle were purchased by the city (1427), resulting in the city's total sovereignty within its borders. Through these and other acquisitions the city accumulated considerable territory. The Hussite Wars, recurrence of the Black Death in 1437, and the First Margrave War led to a severe fall in population in the mid-15th century. At the beginning of the 16th century, siding with Albert IV, Duke of Bavaria-Munich, in the Landshut War of Succession led the city to gain substantial territory, resulting in lands of 25 sq mi (64.7 km2), becoming one of the largest Imperial cities. During the Middle Ages, Nuremberg's literary culture was rich, varied, and influential.
The cultural flowering of Nuremberg, in the 15th and 16th centuries, made it the centre of the German Renaissance. In 1525, Nuremberg accepted the Protestant Reformation, and in 1532, the religious Peace of Nuremberg, by which the Lutherans gained important concessions, was signed there. During the 1552 revolution against Charles V, Nuremberg tried to purchase its neutrality, but the city was attacked without a declaration of war and was forced into a disadvantageous peace. At the Peace of Augsburg, the possessions of the Protestants were confirmed by the Emperor, their religious privileges extended and their independence from the Bishop of Bamberg affirmed, while the 1520s' secularisation of the monasteries was also approved.
The state of affairs in the early 16th century, increased trade routes elsewhere and the ossification of the social hierarchy and legal structures contributed to the decline in trade. Frequent quartering of Imperial, Swedish and League soldiers, the financial costs of the war and the cessation of trade caused irreparable damage to the city and a near-halving of the population. In 1632, the city, occupied by the forces of Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, was besieged by the army of Imperial general Albrecht von Wallenstein. The city declined after the war and recovered its importance only in the 19th century, when it grew as an industrial centre. Even after the Thirty Years' War, however, there was a late flowering of architecture and culture – secular Baroque architecture is exemplified in the layout of the civic gardens built outside the city walls, and in the Protestant city's rebuilding of the Egidienkirche, destroyed by fire at the beginning of the 18th century, considered a significant contribution to the baroque church architecture of Middle Franconia.
After the Thirty Years' War, Nuremberg attempted to remain detached from external affairs, but contributions were demanded for the War of the Austrian Succession and the Seven Years' War and restrictions of imports and exports deprived the city of many markets for its manufactures. The Bavarian elector, Charles Theodore, appropriated part of the land obtained by the city during the Landshut War of Succession, to which Bavaria had maintained its claim; Prussia also claimed part of the territory. Realising its weakness, the city asked to be incorporated into Prussia but Frederick William II refused, fearing to offend Austria, Russia and France. At the Imperial diet in 1803, the independence of Nuremberg was affirmed, but on the signing of the Confederation of the Rhine on 12 July 1806, it was agreed to hand the city over to Bavaria from 8 September, with Bavaria guaranteeing the amortisation of the city's 12.5 million guilder public debt.
After the fall of Napoleon, the city's trade and commerce revived; the skill of its inhabitants together with its favourable situation soon made the city prosperous, particularly after its public debt had been acknowledged as a part of the Bavarian national debt. Having been incorporated into a Catholic country, the city was compelled to refrain from further discrimination against Catholics, who had been excluded from the rights of citizenship. Catholic services had been celebrated in the city by the priests of the Teutonic Order, often under great difficulties. After their possessions had been confiscated by the Bavarian government in 1806, they were given the Frauenkirche on the Market in 1809; in 1810 the first Catholic parish was established, which in 1818 numbered 1,010 souls.
In 1817, the city was incorporated into the district of Rezatkreis (named for the river Franconian Rezat), which was renamed to Middle Franconia (German: Mittelfranken) on 1 January 1838. The first German railway, the Bavarian Ludwigsbahn, from Nuremberg to nearby Fürth, was opened in 1835. The establishment of railways and the incorporation of Bavaria into Zollverein (the 19th-century German Customs Union), commerce and industry opened the way to greater prosperity. In 1852, there were 53,638 inhabitants: 46,441 Protestants and 6,616 Catholics. It subsequently grew to become the most important industrial city of Bavaria and one of the most prosperous towns of southern Germany but after the Austrian prussian war it was given to prussia in governmental power in extange for part of the taxes from there In 1905, its population, including several incorporated suburbs, was 291,351: 86,943 Catholics, 196,913 Protestants, 3,738 Jews and 3,766 members of other creeds.
Nuremberg held great significance during the Nazi Germany era. Because of the city's relevance to the Holy Roman Empire and its position in the centre of Germany, the Nazi Party chose the city to be the site of huge Nazi Party conventions — the Nuremberg rallies. The rallies were held in 1927, 1929 and annually from 1933 through 1938. After Adolf Hitler's rise to power in 1933 the Nuremberg rallies became huge Nazi propaganda events, a centre of Nazi ideals. The 1934 rally was filmed by Leni Riefenstahl, and made into a propaganda film called Triumph des Willens (Triumph of the Will). At the 1935 rally, Hitler specifically ordered the Reichstag to convene at Nuremberg to pass the anti-Semitic Nuremberg Laws which revoked German citizenship for all Jews and other non-Aryans. A number of premises were constructed solely for these assemblies, some of which were not finished. Today many examples of Nazi architecture can still be seen in the city. The city was also the home of the Nazi propagandist Julius Streicher, the publisher of Der Stürmer.
During the Second World War, Nuremberg was the headquarters of Wehrkreis (military district) XIII, and an important site for military production, including aircraft, submarines and tank engines. A subcamp of Flossenbürg concentration camp was located here. Extensive use was made of slave labour. The city was severely damaged in Allied strategic bombing from 1943 to 1945. On 29 March 1944, the RAF endured its heaviest losses in the bombing campaign of Germany. Out of more than 700 planes participating, 106 were shot down or crash-landed on the way home to their bases, and more than 700 men were missing, as many as 545 of them dead. More than 160 became prisoners of war. On 2 January 1945, the medieval city centre was systematically bombed by the Royal Air Force and the U.S. Army Air Forces and about ninety percent of it was destroyed in only one hour, with 1,800 residents killed and roughly 100,000 displaced. In February 1945, additional attacks followed. In total, about 6,000 Nuremberg residents are estimated to have been killed in air raids.
Nuremberg was a heavily fortified city that was captured in a fierce battle lasting from 17 to 21 April 1945 by the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division, 42nd Infantry Division and 45th Infantry Division, which fought house-to-house and street-by-street against determined German resistance, causing further urban devastation to the already bombed and shelled buildings. Despite this intense degree of destruction, the city was rebuilt after the war and was to some extent, restored to its pre-war appearance including the reconstruction of some of its medieval buildings. However, over half of the historic look of the center, and especially the northeastern half of the old Imperial Free City was lost forever.
Between 1945 and 1946, German officials involved in war crimes and crimes against humanity were brought before an international tribunal in the Nuremberg trials. The Soviet Union had wanted these trials to take place in Berlin. However, Nuremberg was chosen as the site for the trials for specific reasons:
The same courtroom in Nuremberg was the venue of the Nuremberg Military Tribunals, organized by the United States as occupying power in the area.
Several old villages now belong to the city, for example Grossgründlach, Kraftshof, Thon, and Neunhof in the north-west; Ziegelstein in the north-east, Altenfurt and Fischbach in the south-east; and Katzwang, Kornburg in the south. Langwasser is a modern suburb.
Nuremberg has an oceanic climate (Koppen: Cfb), influenced by its inland position and higher altitude causing seasonal differences reminiscent of continental climates, although its winters are somewhat milder. Winters are diverse, with either mild or cold weather: the average temperature is around −3 °C (27 °F) to 4 °C (39 °F), while summers are generally warm, mostly around 13 °C (55 °F) at night to 25 °C (77 °F) in the afternoon. Precipitation is evenly spread throughout the year, although February and April tend to be a bit drier whereas July tends to have more rainfall.
Nuremberg has been a popular destination for immigrants. 39.5 % of the residents had an immigrant background in 2010 (counted with MigraPro).
Nuremberg for many people is still associated with its traditional gingerbread (Lebkuchen) products, sausages, and handmade toys. Pocket watches — Nuremberg eggs — were made here in the 16th century by Peter Henlein. In the 19th century Nuremberg became the "industrial heart" of Bavaria with companies such as Siemens and MAN establishing a strong base in the city. Nuremberg is still an important industrial centre with a strong standing in the markets of Central and Eastern Europe. Items manufactured in the area include electrical equipment, mechanical and optical products, motor vehicles, writing and drawing paraphernalia, stationery products, and printed materials. The city is also strong in the fields of automation, energy, and medical technology. Siemens is still the largest industrial employer in the Nuremberg region but a good third of German market research agencies are also located in the city. The Nuremberg International Toy Fair is the largest of its kind in the world. The city also hosts several specialist hi-tech fairs every year, attracting experts from every corner of the globe.
Nuremberg was an early centre of humanism, science, printing, and mechanical invention. The city contributed much to the science of astronomy. In 1471 Johannes Mueller of Königsberg (Bavaria), later called Regiomontanus, built an astronomical observatory in Nuremberg and published many important astronomical charts. In 1515, Albrecht Dürer, a native of Nuremberg, created woodcuts of the first maps of the stars of the northern and southern hemispheres, producing the first printed star charts, which had been ordered by Johannes Stabius. Around 1515 Dürer also published the "Stabiussche Weltkarte", the first perspective drawing of the terrestrial globe. Perhaps most famously, the main part of Nicolaus Copernicus's work was published in Nuremberg in 1543.
Printers and publishers have a long history in Nuremberg. Many of these publishers worked with well-known artists of the day to produce books that could also be considered works of art. In 1470 Anton Koberger opened Europe's first print shop in Nuremberg. In 1493, he published the Nuremberg Chronicles, also known as the World Chronicles (Schedelsche Weltchronik), an illustrated history of the world from the creation to the present day. It was written in the local Franconian dialect by Hartmann Schedel and had illustrations by Michael Wohlgemuth, Wilhelm Pleydenwurff, and Albrecht Dürer. Others furthered geographical knowledge and travel by map making. Notable among these was navigator and geographer Martin Behaim, who made the first world globe.
Sculptors such as Veit Stoss, Adam Kraft and Peter Vischer are also associated with Nuremberg.
Composed of prosperous artisans, the guilds of the Meistersingers flourished here. Richard Wagner made their most famous member, Hans Sachs, the hero of his opera Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. Baroque composer Johann Pachelbel was born here and was organist of St. Sebaldus Church.
The academy of fine arts situated in Nuremberg is the oldest art academy in central Europe and looks back to a tradition of 350 years of artistic education.
Nuremberg is also famous for its Christkindlesmarkt (Christmas market), which draws well over a million shoppers each year. The market is famous for its handmade ornaments and delicacies.
The Nuremberg State Theatre, founded in 1906, is dedicated to all types of opera, ballet and stage theatre. During the season 2009/2010, the theatre presented 651 performances for an audience of 240,000 persons. The State Philharmonic Nuremberg (Staatsphilharmonie Nürnberg) is the orchestra of the State Theatre. Its name was changed in 2011 from its previous name: The Nuremberg Philharmonic (Nürnberger Philharmoniker). It is the second-largest opera orchestra in Bavaria. Besides opera performances, it also presents its own subscription concert series in the Meistersingerhalle. Christof Perick was the principal conductor of the orchestra between 2006–2011. Marcus Bosch heads the orchestra since September 2011.
The Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra (Nürnberger Symphoniker) performs around 100 concerts a year to a combined annual audience of more than 180,000. The regular subscription concert series are mostly performed in the Meistersingerhalle but other venues are used as well, including the new concert hall of the Kongresshalle and the Serenadenhof. Alexander Shelley has been the principal conductor of the orchestra since 2009.
The Nuremberg International Chamber Music Festival (Internationales Kammermusikfestival Nürnberg) takes place in early September each year, and in 2011 celebrated its tenth anniversary. Concerts take place around the city; opening and closing events are held in the medieval Burg. The Bardentreffen, an annual folk festival in Nuremberg, has been deemed the largest world music festival in Germany and takes place since 1976. 2014 the Bardentreffen starred 368 artists from 31 nations.
Nuremberg is known for Nürnberger Bratwurst (grilled sausage), which is shorter and thinner than other bratwurst sausages.
Another Nuremberg speciality is Nürnberger Lebkuchen, a kind of ginger bread eaten mainly around Christmas time.
Nuremberg offers 51 public and 6 private elementary schools in nearly all of its districts. Secondary education is offered at 23 Mittelschulen, 12 Realschulen, and 17 Gymnasien (state, city, church, and privately owned). There are also several other providers of secondary education such as Berufsschule, Berufsfachschule, Wirtschaftsschule etc.
Nuremberg hosts the joint university Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, two Fachhochschulen (Technische Hochschule Nürnberg and Evangelische Hochschule Nürnberg), an art school (Akademie der Bildenden Künste Nürnberg), and a music conservatoire (Hochschule für Musik Nürnberg). There are also private schools such as the Akademie Deutsche POP Nürnberg offering higher education.
The city's location next to numerous highways, railways, and a waterway has contributed to its rising importance for trade with Eastern Europe.
Nürnberg Hauptbahnhof is a stop for IC and ICE trains on the German long-distance railway network. The Nuremberg–Ingolstadt–Munich high-speed line with 300 km/h (186 mph) operation opened 28 May 2006, and was fully integrated into the rail schedule on 10 December 2006. Travel times to Munich have been reduced to as little as one hour. The Nuremberg–Erfurt high-speed railway is scheduled to open in December 2017.
The Nuremberg tramway network was opened in 1881. As of 2008, it extended a total length of 36 km (22 mi), had six lines, and carried 39.152 million passengers annually. The first segment of the Nuremberg U-Bahn metro system was opened in 1972. Nuremberg's trams, busesVerkehrsaktiengesellschaft NürnbergVerkehrsverbund Grossraum Nürnberg or Greater Nuremberg Transport Network).
There is also a Nuremberg S-Bahn suburban metro railway and a regional train network, both centred on Nürnberg Hauptbahnhof. Since 2008, Nuremberg has had the first U-Bahn in Germany (U2/U21 and U3) that works without a driver. It also was the first subway system worldwide in which both driver-operated trains and computer-controlled trains shared tracks.
Nuremberg is conveniently located at the junction of several important Autobahn routes. The A3 (Netherlands–Frankfurt–Würzburg–Vienna) passes in a south-easterly direction along the north-east of the city. The A9 (Berlin–Munich) passes in a north–south direction on the east of the city. The A6 (France–Saarbrücken–Prague) passes in an east–west direction to the south of the city. Finally, the A73 begins in the south-east of Nuremberg and travels north-west through the city before continuing towards Fürth and Bamberg.
Nuremberg Airport has flights to major German cities and many European destinations. It used to be a focus city for Air Berlin, Germany's second largest airline, but after its bankruptcy only Niki operations remained. The largest operators are currently Germania, TUI fly or SunExpress, while the low-cost Ryanair and WizzAir companies connect the city to various European centres. A significant amount of the airport's traffic flies to and from mainly touristic destinations during the peak winter season. The airport (Flughafen) is the terminus of subway line 2; it is the only airport in Germany served by a subway.
Nuremberg is an important port on the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal.
1. FC Nürnberg, known locally as Der Club (English: "The Club"), was founded in 1900 and plays in the 2. Bundesliga (2017–18 season). The official colours of the association are red and white, but the traditional colours are red and black. The current chairmen are Andreas Bornemann and Michael Meeske. They play in Max-Morlock-Stadion which was refurbished for the 2006 FIFA World Cup and accommodates 50,000 spectators.
The SELLBYTEL Baskets Nürnberg played in the Basketball Bundesliga from 2005 to 2007. Since then, teams from Nuremberg have attempted to return to Germany's elite league. The recently founded Nürnberg Falcons BC have already established themselves as one of the main teams in Germany's second division ProA and aim to take on the heritage of the SELLBYTEL Baskets Nürnberg. The Falcons play their home games at the Halle im Berufsbildungszentrum (BBZ).