Well Munich was big, yummy, and fun (in that order), but now it’s time to head North towards Nuremberg! Along our journey, we stopped in two small towns, Nordlingen and Rothenburg, to visit their churches and just have a look around some of southern Germany’s smaller towns.
Though I’d never heard of either place, their churches both hold some prominent, early christian art. Plus, Nordlingen had a walkable city wall that provided an unexpected amount of fun and great views of this little German town. So here’s a rundown of our day:
Getting to Nordlingen
Nordlingen was our first stop from Diessen, the town we were staying in about an hour south of Munich. The bus ride only takes about an hour and a half and the roads seem quiet.
Nordlingen is a town that’s mostly known for the fact that it’s built in the crater of a giant meteor that crashed into Germany thousands of years ago. Our class itinerary was to visit the St. George’s church, but we had a little bit of time to wait before heading into town, which happened to be right at the base of a tower leading up to the city’s fortified walls. Our professor told us we could go up and walk around the walls, and I was off like a rocket.
The ol’ fortified walls in Nordlingen
Nordlingen’s City Wall
Nordlingen’s city wall is one of only three completely intact walls in Germany. Pretty cool! The city wall is about 42 meters high, and is covered on the top with a pointed wooden roof which gives it some excellent shade. I can’t exactly explain why I loved walking around the city wall so much, but I took off and didn’t want to come back. The wall is about level with the rooftops and so we could see a lot of Nordlingen from a pigeon’s viewpoint.
Exploring Nordlingen from above on the city wall
The inner wall has a few strangely deep-set square windows and so I squished myself as far into the little square opening as it would allow.
Very glad I squished into that window- here’s the view of inner Nordlingen
The wall is a great way to see Nordlingen from above, and it is both a pristine and serene little Bavarian town. Very quiet, very peaceful.
Apparently, we got carried away exploring because one of our classmates had to come up wrangle us back to the group so that we could tour the St. George’s church.
Saint George’s Church (Space Church)
My friends and I had been hyped up all morning because we were going to see “Space Church”. You see, St. George’s church was “cleverly” named Space-Church by us because its steeple is built out of the same meteor-cooked quarts that the town is built upon. According to our professor, the space-quarts glitters off of the church’s facade on a sunny day. It was just our luck that the weather couldn’t have been cloudier, but that only minimally took the allure out of Space-Church.
Another cool thing about “Space Church” is that it is one of the few Bavarian German churches to survive the bombings of WW2, and stands nearly just as it did in 1402. The inside of St. George’s does not have the aforementioned allure that the outside does. The interior is white with gray vaults, which gives the whole place a light, but somber atmosphere. In my opinion, the real standout is the church’s organ, which is huge and covered in fresco. I also like the altar. It is a limewood centerpiece covered with painted sculpture- not something I’ve seen a lot of! While it has suffered some damage, it’s not an art style you’ll see often. Hanging from the altar are bushels of grapes painted white and gold. A heavenly detail.
One fantastic organ at St. George’s Church, Nordlingen
Overall, I would summarize my experience at St. George’s with the reaction of the other couple who was touring the church at the same time we were. Pleasantly walking around with an approving nod here and there.
The painted wooden altar at Saint George’s, complete with painted wood, saints, and grapes
For more info on St. George’s church, you can visit their site here, although it is in German
In between Nordlingen and Rothenburg, we stopped at a family style restaurant for lunch.
I bolstered up my courage and sat with some classmates who I hadn’t talked to very much thus far. They are awesome and we talked about zodiac signs. (Any pisces on this blog today??)
Anyways, back to lunch! It ended up being one of the most fantastic meals of the trip! I tried ‘Apfelschorle’ for the first time, Germany’s version of sparkling apple juice, which is a nice alternative to beer when you’re looking for something sweet. The entree was a fantastic pork dish, an even more incredible feat because I don’t usually like pork (I watched an episode of monsters inside me as a kid, do not look up that show). Dessert ended up being an ice cream work of art, and if that wasn’t enough, the waitresses brought us little gifts at the end of the meal! A singing card and a twist-to-open metal pen (which I’m still using months later, it’s a quality pen!)
Some fantastic German lunch at a restaurant that I can’t remember the name of
On to Rothenburg
Rothenburg, or Rothenburg ob der Tauber is another small town about an hour north of Nordlingen. This bus ride was also an uneventful ride through farmlands, and we had no problems getting from one town to the other.
Rothenburg is more well-known than Nordlingen as it’s located right along Germany’s Romantic Road. You can tell because on first impression, everything looks a bit more modern and the town is more bustling along its main roads.
Walkin’ around Rothenburg
Rothenburg also has a city wall, but this time we made a beeline for the St. James church. Our professor had probably learned from our previous shenanigans.
Saint James Church
St. James Church has a work of art that we’d studied pretty frequently- a magnificent limewood altarpiece called the altar of the holy blood. The Altar of the Holy blood was created by Reimenschcneider from 1501-1, and is delicately carved yet massive- at nearly 30 feet tall, and gives the impression of a wise, holy tree. This imagery is aided by the fact that throughout the altarpiece, the wood has been carved to look like twisting vines.
Altar of the Holy Blood
I have become a bit desensitized to beautiful churches and religious art this semester, but the Altar of the Holy Blood was something incredible to see up close.
Reimenshcneider decided to depict the Last Supper on the altar because it shows the miracle of transubstantiation- the christian belief that Jesus changed wine into blood for His apostles to drink.
So why did he choose that biblical story in particular? Well, at the very top of the altar, you can just make out a tiny, crystal vial. In that vial is (supposedly) the blood of Jesus Christ Himself.
The vial with Jesus’s blood
The art, coupled with the holy relic (and many other relics throughout the church) put St. James on the map, and hence, Rothenburg is on the Camino de Santiago as well (a route for Christian pilgrimage).
Other Sights in Rothenburg
Besides St. James church, we passed by what appeared to be an excavation of some stone statues, barred up and in progress. We also walked over a bridge and saw some flowery outdoor frescoes, makes me wish we were staying for the whole day!
On to Nuremberg
After leaving Rothenburg, it was off to Nuremberg where we will be spending the next few days. Our hotel there is supposed to be especially nice, and I heard they served complimentary mimosas for breakfast. Sounds like a great day in the making!
Admittedly, I don’t have much to say about either Nordlingen or Rothenburg. Both were quieter than I had become used to but this was nice because I could focus more on looking at the lovely German-town architecture and less on not getting lost in the crowds.
One thing I do know is that city walls are a lot of fun and I’m going to try and climb more in the future. I liked visiting space church too, and am curious to see if any of you have gotten to see it glitter in the sun? If so please let me know ASAP! Also let me know if you’ve been to Nordlingen or Rothenburg, and what you thought of each town! See ya!
Where did she come from? Munich, Germany
Where is she going (next)? Nuremberg, Germany