WFWP Stuttgart/Germany have sent this report about their recent day trip to a historical town in Southern Germany, by Ute Lemme:
"The Women’s Federation for Peace in Stuttgart organised a day trip to Nördlingen on 12.07.2014.
Our group of 13 met at Stuttgart Central Station, and we were able to take advantage of a special ticket which costs only 8€ each for the return trip to Nördlingen in Bavaria.
Nördlingen is situated in a remarkable part of the country, the ‘Nördlinger Ries’, in the middle of a crater which was formed by a meteorite about 15 million years ago, between the Schwabian and Franconian Alb ( highlands). The ‘Ries Crater’ became flattened through the course of time and has a diameter of about 24km.
After a train journey of almost 2 hours, we made our way into the medieval Old Town.
Standing in front of the historical town walls with the Deiniger Gate, which dates from 1327, Ute Lemme gave us some information about the town. This previous ‘Free Imperial City’ is surrounded by an almost circular, well preserved medieval and late medieval wall with five gates, 16 towers, and a continuous, covered battlement. Nördlingen was first mentioned in documents in 898 as ‘Nordilinga’, a Carolingian royal court, and was given the town charter 1251 by Kaiser Friedrich II.
Nördlingen has an impressive city centre, thanks to a flourishing economy in the Middle Ages when it was one of the most important trading centers of the time in Germany, situated at the intersection of two old trading routes.
St Georg’s Church with its 90m high church tower ‘Daniel’ is situated in the market place in the town centre. Surrounding this are the multi-storied houses of the rich tradesmen and patricians; then comes the craftsman’s district with its striking houses, and finally the bourgeois settlement at the periphery with a somewhat village like character.
Why has the Old Town remained so well preserved?
Already in 1529, the city parliament attested to the Protestant faith. In the 30 year war (1618-1648), the town was besieged by the imperial Habsburg troops, and in the battle of Nördlingen the Swedish Protestant troops were decisively defeated. Only through high reparation could the town avoid plunder and ravage by the victorious troops. Over half of the 1620 inhabitants died of hunger and disease. Then trade in Germany was centered on cities in the north, and Nördlingen sank into insignificance. In the following centuries it was too poor to decisively change or modernize its image. It was only 300 years later, in 1939 that the population grew again to its original level.
We went from the Deiniger gate to the market place and admired the historical Bread and Dance House, the timbered Metzig House, the High House and visited the St Georg’s Church, one of the largest hall churches in South Germany. The centrally situated ‘Gasthaus zur Sonne’ used to serve, from 1405 onwards, as a tavern for royalty and several of us took the opportunity to have lunch in the stylishly decorated restaurant. After the lunch break we made a tour of the town following the tourist map.
From the noble building of the Nördling Town Hall - since 1382 in continual use as a town hall - we went through the alleyways to various markets; past impressive city buildings with their curved and graduated Renaissance gables; past noble warehouses to the tanners’ quarter on the river Eger; then further to the Holy Ghost Hospital, and in a curve back past the previous site of the Jewish synagogue, to the main Catholic church the St Salvador’s Church. The originally purely Protestant town accepted over 4500 refugees after WWII, many of them Catholic.
After walking along quite a large part of the city wall, we allowed ourselves a well earned rest in a café. Refreshed by coffee and cake, and deeply impressed by our visit to the old town of Nördlingen, we returned to the station at 17.30 to catch the train back to Stuttgart.
For all of us, it was truly a joy to discover and learn about this historical treasure in our country!"