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There’s plenty to define this dynamic German city beyond its WWII legacy

Nuremberg, Germany, is known to many Americans for its World War II legacy — the huge Nazi party rally grounds, the war-crime trials — and later as home to U.S. military members and their families until 1995.

But this old imperial city on the banks of the Pegnitz River saw plenty of history before these times.

Founded nearly a millennium ago, Nuremberg was home to all German kings and kaisers from the mid-11th century to the late 16th century. When in town, they resided in the Kaiserburg, the imperial castle that towers over the city. Parts of the castle with its furnished emperor’s rooms and collection of weapons and everyday items is open to the public.

At the foot of the castle lived and worked one of the city’s most famous sons, artist Albrecht Dürer. You can visit his house, too.

A medieval wall with mighty gates still surrounds the old city center. Inside are half-timbered houses, another remnant of earlier times. One of the most impressive is the 15th-century Weinstadel, or wine store, on the banks of the Pegnitz. Others can be found on Weißgerbergasse, a lane that comes alive at night with bars and restaurants.

Nuremberg is famous for its short, spicy bratwurst and its gingerbread. It is home to one of Germany’s largest and most-famous Christmas markets, the Christkindlesmarkt.

The second-largest city in Bavaria, after Munich, Nuremberg is also home to numerous museums, from the Germanische Nationalmuseum, dedicated to all things German, to the Neuses Museum, featuring international contemporary art and design.

On Nuremberg’s large central marketplace stands the tall, elegant Schöner Brunnen, or Beautiful Fountain. Tourists turn a gold ring on the fountain, which, depending on the tale you believe, brings either luck or fertility. However, some the city’s citizens believe the other ring on the fountain — the plain black one — is the right ring to turn and that the gold one is just for tourists.

Nuremberg has another remarkable fountain, which one would never call beautiful, but perhaps intriguing. It is the Marriage Carousel, which graphically tells the tale of Hans Sachs’ 16th-century poem "Bitter-sweet Married Life." The poem, and the figures on the fountain, take you through a couple’s life, from courtship to death.

For more information on Nuremberg’s attractions, special events and opening hours, see its Web site, Then see the city for yourself.

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