Auf Wiedersehen Wolfsburg
After a couple of happy days at Wolfsburg looking at old cars, it was time to push on to somewhere new and do something different for a bit. I did a some looking around and found what sounded to be an interesting Stellplatze (German stopover equivalent of French Aires) in Nuremberg, a city in northern Bavaria. It was going to be a bit of a long drive south, so another early start for me…
My destination was the camper stopover in the Volkspark Dutzendteich (49°25′21″ N 11°6′26″ E) which is part of the infamous Nazi party rally grounds from pre-WW2. The grounds were all designed by Hitler’s architect Albert Speer, except for the Congress Hall, which was designed by Ludwig and Franz Ruff. Today the whole site is a memorial, and parts are used as the Norisring motor racing track!
Making people smile
After the long days drive to get here, it was nice to go for a relaxing walk around the park to help get my bearings. The stopover was in a very peaceful, yet central location. The grounds are beautifully landscaped around a series of lakes and open areas with paths intertwined between the trees. Great for those like to walk, jog or take their bikes for a spin. Nuremberg city itself is accessible via the U Bahn station (underground railway) which is just a few minutes walk away.
Amongst the larger modern motor homes, my little camper seemed a bit out-of-place, but it did make some passers-by smile when they saw it – it sometimes has that kind of effect on people! 🙂 There was also a handy petrol station and hotel just near the stopover area where I picked up some essentials. Tourist info maps from the very friendly hotel staff, and a surprisingly decent German Pilsner beer from the garage which was cheaper than a magnum style ice cream or a pack of chilli flavoured tortilla crisps!
The muggy, overcast weather of yesterday cleared with a heavy overnight rainstorm which was good in a couple of ways. Today was much clearer and brighter day, so great weather to go and wander around the medieval old town of Nuremberg. Secondly, the dust and dirt got washed off the bus as it had its own outline on the floor in the morning! 😉
I decided to try out the U Bahn today and got a day return ticket to the centre of Nuremberg to check out some of its famed medieval architecture. It was nice to just chill out and wander around the old streets of the town.
From the impressive St. Lorenz church I soon discovered the market square in full flow with its colourful array of fresh vegetables and its Gothic spire influenced 19m high Schöner Brunnen (beautiful fountain), a 14th-century fountain located near the town hall.
Most buildings seemed a bit too picture perfect for me at times, so it was refreshing to see a cool gothic Oriel window with some distressed brick surrounds – felt a bit more real! 🙂
It appeared to me that one of the most distinctive Architectural elements from my driving around Germany thus far has been the humble roof. Here they really seem to love nothing more than a massive pitched roof, Nuremberg was no exception with this 6 story roof!
After a few hours of urban wandering, it was time to sit down, grab a coffee, catch up with a bit of writing whilst people watching in the square, nice end to the first day in the city 🙂 Time for me to catch the train back to my bus for some supper.
New day, new things to see. You can’t escape the fact that the city had a Nazi past. I decided I should explore more of the historical Architecture of the Nuremberg Rally grounds I was staying in. To see part of the physical realisation of the Nazi architectural vision of the National Socialist German Workers’ (Nazi) Party in Nuremberg brought sharply into focus the role that buildings helped play in Hitler’s rise to power and the significance of their use in the orchestrated and coordinated propaganda they supported. It was a sobering and eye-opening experience.
Big history, big buildings
The scale of the architectural vision was massive! I guess it reflected the megalomania of Hitler himself? Nearest to where I was staying was the Congress hall that was built-in 1935-37. It is the largest remaining building of the Third Reichs construction program. It’s tidy looking Neoclassical architectural facade is in remarkably good condition, probably due to the quality of the building materials used in its construction at the time?
The sheer size and scale of the building is enormous, although it never actually reached its full size! It’s 240m in diameter, 280m on the straight end and is 39m high (its planned height was a huge 70m!).
To give you an idea of its size, it was designed to hold around 50,000 people and is approximately twice the size of the Colosseum in Rome!
The structure had 88 pillars situated behind the Tribune designed to hold the weight of a 25,000-ton roof! The roof was made of glass to let daylight into the hall and spanned 170m. In total 22,000 foundation pillars of 16m in length were used for the foundation of the hall. Due to the outbreak of war in 1939, the construction stopped. After a restart in 1940, there was a short building period before construction finally stopped.
Although fascinating in an abstract architectural context, it was hard to not think of its nazi context. History huh, plenty to learn from!