A Very German Christmas, Part 1: Nuremberg

River Queen in Wurzburg

A European river cruise is the perfect way to visit Christmas markets, and this last Christmas my husband and I chose to brave the cold of winter in Germany and take a cruise on the Uniworld River Queen.  The itinerary was Nuremberg to Frankfurt for seven nights on their Classic Christmas Markets sailing.  The experience was magical, from the festive atmosphere of the German towns to the wonderful ship and crew of the River Queen.

Before embarking we wanted to understand Nuremberg’s role in World War II by visiting the Documentation Center and Room 600 at the Palace of Justice.  The Documentation Center is located in the north wing of the unfinished Congress Hall on the former Nazi Party Rally Grounds. 

After a solemn self-guided tour of the exhibition, which details the rise and consequences of the National Socialists, we took the tram to the Palace of Justice to see Courtroom 600, where the main war criminals were tried after the War.  Our guide was incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about the subject.  It was truly humbling to witness Nuremberg’s obligation to the past.  Any trip to Nuremberg should include these visits.

The Nuremberg Christmas Market (Christkindlesmarkt) is one of the oldest in Germany, dating back to the mid-16th century.  After a decline in the late 19th century, the National Socialists brought the market back in 1933 and reestablished the Main Market (Hauptmarkt) location.  No Christmas market was held during World War II.  In 1948 the Nuremberg Christmas Market was returned to the old town, which had been for the most part destroyed in the War.

Fast-forward almost 70 years, and now the Christmas market in Nuremberg is the largest of all in Germany.  There are several areas tucked throughout the old city, and it took a couple days to see everything.  From the children’s Christmas market, to the live Christmas performances outside the Church of Our Lady, and the Christmas Market of Sister Cities, the old city could not have been more festive. 

With the obligatory cup of glühwein in hand, we shopped and ate our way through all corners of the market.  Of course while in Nuremberg you must eat their local bratwurst (tasty little brats the size of an index finger) and Lebkuchen (ginger bread).  I had the feeling I would be fattening up during my week in Germany and began to think about what comfy clothes I had to wear for the flight home.  I put that thought on hold as I made my way towards the stand selling roasted chestnuts.

After a couple days in Nuremberg on our own, it was time to board the ship.  We would spend one more night in Nuremberg before heading up the Main-Danube canal.  The next morning we took the Uniworld overview tour of Nuremberg, which included a visit to the Imperial Castle.  Of course, there was more time to visit the Market after the tour, which meant we had an extra day to shop for the perfect Nuremberg trinket and revisit our favorite bratwurst and glühwein stands. 

Nanci Browning