The castle, Albrecht Dürer, gingerbread and sausages are the things everyone in Germany associates with Nuremberg. But the city offers so much more: scores of medieval buildings, amazing old churches like the Gothic masterpiece of St Lorenz, and the main square's pretty fountain with its delicate pinnacle. But it's not all sweetness and light: the Nazi party's rally grounds serve as a memorial to the darkest hour of Nuremberg's past. History is visible everywhere in the Franconia region's largest city. Max has planned a special trip for his two friends Anna and Tim. Full of cultural and historical highlights, it includes dark catacombs, spectacular patrician homes, medieval crafts and modern glass architecture.

A wave of nostalgia comes over the trio as they make their way to their very first stop, the underground prison cells. They reminisce about their childhood games together, when they would make fearful pirate masks and scale the highest fortresses fashioned out of sofas and cushions. The cells have exactly the dark and dangerous atmosphere they used to imagine twenty years ago, and even though all three of them know that a modern concept of law holds sway in the world above, they still find the prison's passageways quite unsettling. Afterwards, a cosier setting is called for. Luckily, it's right next door: Hausbrauerei Altstadthof. The three friends sit down and order one of the tavern's specialties: a cool red beer, or Rotbier. Underground brewing has a long tradition in Nuremberg. In the Middle Ages, everyone had a right to make their own beer – provided they had their own cellar for fermenting and storing alcohol. Over time, the cellars grew into an extensive and sophisticated labyrinth, with some passages forming a multi-storey underground system. During WWII, these passages offered thousands of people a safe haven from bombing raids.

Back on the surface and back to the present day: the next stop is Neues Museum Nuremberg with its collection of art and design objects from the early 1950s onwards. With 3,000 m2 of floorspace, the museum exhibits modern paintings, sculpture, photography and video installations. Architecture student Anna is especially interested in the striking design of the museum building itself: the staircase, with its expanse of glass wall, makes a real impression on her. Looking for a small memento of their Nuremberg trip, the trio goes to the "art-o-matic" in Sterngasse, just a few hundred metres away, when they leave the museum. This vending machine doesn't sell chewing gum or plastic tat, however: pop EUR 5 into the slot, and you get a small work of art instead. NB: The machine is only refilled every 4 months.

The friends need a bit of a break to process all of the things they've seen so far. Max knows a great place just around the corner, and it's bound to appeal to cat-loving Anna: Café Katzentempel. Six of its employees are cuddly kitties who serve the guests by being available for unlimited stroking and playing, while the menu consists of tasty vegan specialties.

The three friends can't stay in the present for long, however: history is calling again, so the next destination is the world's oldest rail museum. The DB Museum takes its visitors on a real journey through time – 150 years of rail history to be precise, starting with the first railway in the UK, then on to Germany's first steam engine and ultimately to the ICE trains of today.

History of another kind is on display at the Tucher townhouse. Built in the middle of the 16th century, this castle-like building in the heart of the town vividly illustrates how Nuremberg's powerful merchant families lived at the time. Elaborately decorated art objects, valuable paintings and wonderful furniture take the friends back to the "high society" of yesteryear.

Even dinner has a side order of history when the three friends sit down that evening. Now located in the Handwerkerhof artisans' complex, the Bratwurstglöcklein restaurant started serving sausages in 1313. Today, these local delicacies are made by the restaurant's own butcher freshly every day. It's the perfect way for the three old friends to finish their busy day.

Nuremberg's underground prison cells and tunnels

Nuremberg has all kinds of attractions, including some underground ones.

Destination: Medieval Dungeons in Nuremberg

Nearest train station: Nürnberg Hbf (Nuremberg main station)

Neues Museum Nürnberg – contemporary art and international design in a fantastic setting

With over 3,000 m2 of floorspace, you have so much room to encounter fine and applied art.

Destination: Neues Museum - Staatliches Museum für Kunst und Design Nürnberg

Nearest train station: Nürnberg Hbf (Nuremberg main station)

Deutsche Bahn Museum in Nuremberg: Over 150 years of railway history

The oldest railway museum in the world features 40 engines and an old platform, bringing the evolution of Deutsche Bahn to life.

Destination: DB Museum

Nearest train station: Nürnberg Hbf (Nuremberg main station)

The Tucher townhouse in Nuremberg

Cross the threshold and marvel at the what was once the home of one of old Nuremberg's richest families.

Destination: Tucherschloss Museum

Nearest train station: Nürnberg Hbf (Nuremberg main station)

The artisans' yard in Nuremberg

Traditional crafts and culinary treats – Nuremberg has a place that brings these together.

Destination: Handwerkerhof (artisan yard) in Nuremberg

Nearest train station: Nürnberg Hbf (Nuremberg main station)

Trip destinations

The Levi Strauss Museum in Buttenheim

Family-friendly cross-country skiing in the Ammergau Alps

Scoops all round: Cool off at "Stenz" ice cream café in Regens...

To Falkenberghaus cabin in Vorra

Fünf-Seidla-Steig®: hike through the homeland of Franconia's s...

The Turmtheater theatre in Regensburg

“Six sausages with sauerkraut, please!”: the Bratwurstglöcklei...

The Pfefferminzmuseum (peppermint museum) in Eichenau

Tubing: down the Isar towards Munich

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