The Masonry of Nürnberg

To wrap up our trip to Germany, we are going to examine the masonry of Nürnberg.  Our friends took us on a day trip to Nürnberg to show us the sights of the city.  We started at the Kaiserberg Nürnberg, also known as Nuremberg Castle.


Parts of the castle were erected beginning in the 1100s with additions over the centuries.  It has three courtyards containing buildings of increasing importance as you move deeper into the castle.  The photo above is from the “outer courtyard”, which is actually the middle courtyard.  The two-story building at the left is the “deep well” and dates to 1563.  It supplied all of the castle’s water, which was important if the castle was under siege.  The tower at the center is the Sinwell Tower, which was noted for its circular shape.  It is the tallest tower at the castle and probably served primarily as a lookout post.  The entire castle complex was constructed on top of a sandstone hill; many of the stones used to build the castle appear to be sandstone as well.  Much of the castle was damaged during World War II bombing raids, but following the war it was meticulously reconstructed using the original stone wherever possible.

The base of the castle has several cellars that were used to store supplies over the centuries.  During World War II, the Nazi party stored confiscated art in one of these bunkers, which is now a museum.  (Just as described in the Monuments Men.)


To the southwest of the castle is a square containing the Albrecht Dürer House, where the famed engraver lived between 1509 and 1528.  The house, which dates to the 1400s, is visible in the center of the photo.  Like other buildings in Nürnberg, it was heavily damaged during WWII and was partially rebuilt in the late 1940s.


Nürnberg has some beautiful stone churches, and St. Sebaldus Church (Sebalduskirche in German) is no exception.  Currently a Lutheran Church, St. Sebaldus was begun in the 1200s but was altered during the 14th and 15th centuries to update the exterior with a Gothic design.  The wikipedia page for the church shows the architectural chronology of the building using 3D models.  The towers, seen below, date to the 15th century.


It was impossible to get the entire church in a single photograph, but the one below of the side of the church tells a more complete story of the church’s construction.  The upper story, just below the red tile roof, is part of the original thirteenth-century Romanesque church. The Gothic-style aisle at the first floor dates to the early fourteenth century.  And the chancel just visible at far left was constructed in the late fourteenth century.


Another beautiful church is St. Lorenz, which was constructed in the early 1400s.  Like St. Sebaldus, it has been an important Lutheran church since the Reformation.


St. Lorenz, like St. Sebaldus, was heavily damaged during Allied bombing raids in World War II, but both were rebuilt and restored in the late 1940s and 1950s.  The restoration of these buildings is impressive, as you would be hard pressed to find portions that look like they were built in the twentieth century.


Nürnberg also has several bridges crossing the river Pegnitz.  Bridges are usually the first thing to be destroyed during wartime, so I would guess most of the bridges are reconstructions.  This building straddles the river and is made of the same pinkish-gray sandstone that you see all over Nürnberg.


My favorite bridge was the Henkersteg, or hangman’s bridge.  A wooden foot bridge was built in this location in 1457, but was rebuilt five times between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries.  It was destroyed during World War II and was rebuilt in the late 1950s.


The hangman’s bridge is connected to the hangman’s tower, below right, which housed the execution chamber and the hangman’s residence.  It was built in the early fourteenth century, with modifications in 1400, and was probably heavily restored after World War II.


Our last stop on this masonry tour of Nürnberg is the weißer turm, or the white tower.  It looks pink with a gray foundation today, but presumably it was painted or stuccoed white at some point in its history.  Originally a toll gate, it was completed in 1250 and was part of the last city wall of Nürnberg.  This imposing tower is now a U-bahn station – the best looking subway station I have ever seen.


And although it’s not masonry, there is an interesting bronze fountain at the base of the weißer turm.  It was designed by sculptor Jürgen Weber and was installed in 1984.  Called the Ehekarussell, or marriage fountain, it depicts the ups and downs of a marriage.  Clearly the marriage didn’t end well.


The Masonry of Erlangen

Part Two of our trip to Germany entailed a visit with friends in Erlangen.  A beautiful city in northern Bavaria, Erlangen is home to the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), a large university with about 20,000 students.  The masonry of Erlangen is mainly stone, and much of the city’s architectural heritage was influenced by two important events: the arrival of French huguenot refugees in the late 1680s and a devastating fire in the old part of the city in 1706.  But there are also impressive nineteenth-century masonry structures throughout the city.

One of the most prominent buildings in town, the Erlangen palace (or Markgräfliches Schloss Erlangen), is owned by the university.  The palace was constructed between 1700 and 1704 and was used as a royal residence until 1814 when a fire gutted the building.  It was rebuilt by the university in the early 1820s.  The schloss faces the city’s market square and backs upon the schlossgarten, a public park.  Because Erlangen’s Christkindlmarkt was in the process of being erected, I wasn’t able to get a clear view of the front of the building, but its back is stately.


The building is made of a handsome pinkish-gray sandstone, which you can see in the photo below.


Another prominent building in Erlangen is the Hugenottenkirche, or the Huguenot Church.  It was built between 1686 and 1693 as a congregation for the huguenot settlers to Erlangen.  (The tower was added to the main church in the 1730s.)  The Huguenot Church was the centerpiece of the “new city” built by the huguenots to the south of the original city center.  The architect of the new city and the Huguenot Church was Johann Moritz Richter, the crown prince’s master planner and master builder.


Both the main part of the church and the tower were built using the same pinkish-gray sandstone that was used on the schloss.  This stone which must be native to the Erlangen area, as you see it on buildings all over town.  In addition, the tower has subtle baroque details, which is the predominant style of the new city’s architecture.


There are also a large number of late-eighteenth and nineteenth-century buildings in Erlangen, including these two buildings facing each other on Nürnbergerstraße near Güterhallenstraße.


The brick and sandstone building above houses a hotel and brasserie, and has wonderful polychrome brick details.


It faces an older limestone building with a richly-ornamented gable, a tower with a turret, and beautifully carved stone quoins.


But there is one thing you might not be able to see through the trees.  A knight carved into a niche at the corner, complete with a stone shield and a bronze jousting pole.


I was really curious what this building could be used for.  Our friends informed us it’s just another fraternity associated with the university.  I have seen some beautiful fraternity houses on American college campuses (and some horrid ones), but never a building this impressive or in such good condition.

Because we are on the topic of fraternities, it seems only fitting to finish our brief tour of Erlangen with an historic brewery.


The Erich Bräu building was built in 1870 on the Aldstädter Kirchenplatz in the old city.  In the late nineteenth century, Erich Bräu was the largest exporter of beer in Erlangen.  The brewery itself dates to the early 1700s, but it was purchased by Franz Erich in the mid-nineteenth century.  During his tenure, Franz Erich modernized the brewery and erected several new buildings along Aldtstädter Kirchenplatz, including this one.  This website has a brief history of Erich Bräu, as well as several historic drawings and photos of the brewery in Erlangen.  (All websites cited here are in German, but can be translated using Google Translate.)

Next time you visit Germany, be sure to spend a day in the charming city of Erlangen.  There are plenty of beautiful historic buildings, an impressive botanical garden run by the university, and lots of delicious food and drink.  I also hear there is a great beer festival every spring that rivals the more famous Oktoberfest in Munich.

The Masonry of Munich

When a masonry blogger goes on vacation, she takes way too many photos of masonry during her travels.  Needless to say, when I recently visited Bavaria (with a day trip to Salzburg, Austria), I photographed a lot of masonry buildings.  To mix things up a bit here at the Masonry of Denver, I thought I’d share some of the more interesting masonry structures I saw on my travels.  First up: The Masonry of Munich.

The last time I visited Bavaria was in 1999.  At that time, I didn’t digest the fact that most masonry structures in southern Germany and northern Austria are clad with stucco.  Stucco is not my favorite building material, but the stucco on German and Austrian buildings is often textured with sand or pebbles, or the stucco is pigmented.  It’s more interesting than your average stucco, but it’s still stucco.  Fortunately for us, everything in Munich isn’t covered in stucco.  And better yet, several incredible buildings survived World War II.

Take this beautiful stone building, for example.  It is on Thierschstraße in the Altstadt-Lehel neighborhood of Munich.  According to a Google search, it was built in 1889 and was designed by architects Albin Lincke and Max Littmann.  My German is non-existent, but it seems that these two gentlemen designed several prominent buildings in Munich in the late nineteenth century.


The beige sandstone used to clad this building is lovely, but the carvings are just wonderful.  These strong men (and a cherub) frame the entrance and support the oriel window on the second floor.


The stone carving is even more intricate at the top of the building, where you can see an angel blowing into a metal trumpet, a cherub supporting a cartouche, ornate palm fronds and foliage, brackets with lions heads, and some of the most fanciful urns I’ve ever seen.