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In 1050, "Nourenberc" was first official mentioned in documents. At this time, this locality was primarily a castle burgafenveste built short time before by Kaiser Heinrich III. and used to secure and expand the surrounding imperial estates.
The transfer of the market-rights from the older episcopal Fürth, neighbouring town and belonging to the diocese Bamberg as well as the existence of two imperial "Wirtschaftshöfe" at the castle, indicates the favour of the Kaiser.
After 1070, the grave of the miracle-working Sebaldus leads a stream of visitors to Nuremberg.

In 1105, during the fight for the throne between Heinrich IV and his son, Nürnberg was conquered and destroyed.
Again in 1130, during the battle against the Staufer, the duke of Bavaria, Heinrich der Stolze, occupied the city but afterwards he had to hand it over to the new-elected Kaiser Konrad III. The Staufer quickly extended Nürnberg. On the Burgfelsen, the old Burggrafenveste was extended by a new castle, the so called kaiserburg while on the other side of the river Pegnitz, the now called Lorenzer Stadt was built. Several stays of the Kaiser and "Fürstentage" marked the growing importance of Nürnberg.

Kaiser Friedrich II. gave Nürnberg important rights, especially in economical matters, in form of the "Freiheitsbrief". After the descent of the Staufer, a period of imperial weakness began. The leading families of the city were able to establish self-regulation of the community. Even so, the sovereignty over the Kaiserburg remained in the hands of the Kaiser.But his power in Nürnberg was weakened, since the Hohenzollern became counts of the Burggrafenveste in 1192. By using their court- and sovereign-rights, they where able to extend their sphere of influence around Nürnberg.

In the year 1356, one of the milestones in german history was proclaimed: The golden bule. As in the 13th century, several "Reichs-" and "Fürstentage" were held in Nürnberg. By 1427, the Hohenzollern moved their main residence from Nürnberg to the "Mark Brandenburg" and sold the Burggrafenveste to the city of Nürnberg.

Between 1495 and 1525, a period of prosperity, political power and the atmosphere of intellectual and artistically advance made Nürnberg one of Europe's leading metropolises. The Reformation in 1525 marked an important point in Nuremberg's history. A dispute between the catholic Kaiserhaus and the now reformed city  erupted.

Just before the outbreak of the 30-year-war, the population of Nürnberg reached its peak (50.000).
In 1622 the old academy of Altdorf became University. 1632 the war came to Nürnberg. Two military commanders - Wallenstein and Gustav Adolf - fought one of the most bloodiest battles of the war at Nürnberg.
The war left Nürnberg highly in debt and with decimated population.

The pressure of high taxes and the many customs barriers of the surrounding territories paralysed the economic development. Meanwhile, Prussia and Bavaria occupied rural areas of the now defenceless city. Since 1796 French troops occupied the city several times.

1806, the kingdom of Bavaria annexed Nürnberg. One of the first actions of the new regents was, to squander most of the cities works of art, to sell churches and close the University. The city  was deprived of all its political powers and became a second-choice city. The first German railroad was build between Nürnberg and Fürth in 1835. Pioneers as Cramer Klett, Schukert, and Faber made Nürnberg to one of Bavaria’s industrial centres.

1910, the city's  population reached 330.000. 1933, the darkest chapter in the history of Germany began. Nürnberg became city of the so-called "Reichsparteitage". The intention of the Nazi-regime under Adolf Hitler was, to revive the days of the tribute to the Kaiser in a "modern" form. 38 air raids on Nürnberg in the following World War 2 destroyed 90% of the historical buildings and 40% of the whole city.
From November 20, 1945, until October 1, 1946, the International Military Tribunal (IMT) convened in the principal courtroom for criminal cases (room No. 600) in the Nürnberg Palace of Justice. At the conferences in Moscow (1943), Teheran (1943), Jalta (1945) and Potsdam (1945), the Big Three powers (USA, USSR and Great Britain) had agreed to try and to punish those responsible for war-crimes. Designated by President Harry S. Truman as U.S. representative and chief counsel at the IMT Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson planned and organized the trial procedure and served as Chief Prosecutor for the USA. He recommended Nürnberg as site for the trials for several reasons. The Palace of Justice was spacious - it had 22,000 m2 of space with about 530 offices and about 80 courtrooms; war damage to it was minimal; and a large, undestroyed prison was part of the complex.

Although Nürnberg was one of the worst destroyed cities in Germany, the citizens had the will to rebuild the city as fast as possible. In the 1950's, most of the destruction was cleared away.