Nordlingen - A Medieval City built inside a Meteor Crater - Trip Report

by Melissa Yap - 3 years, 5 months ago

One of the daytrips we took during our month-long stay in Munich was Nordlingen. Nordlingen is about a 2 hour train ride away from Munich.

Nordlingen is an 1100 year old Bavarian town along the Romantic Road that was built inside a meteor crater. The meteorite impacted the area 14 million years ago, creating a 24km wide crater, called the Ries Crater. A few towns are built inside the crater, one of which is Nordlingen.  

Nordlingen has an intact medieval city wall, complete with 5 city gates. You can walk on the city wall for free; it took us about 1.5 hours to circle the town on the wall. From the wall, we got a clear view of the city below.  One thing that caught our eye were the half houses built into the city wall. Some houses had one half their house built on one side of the wall, the other half built on the other side of the wall, making the city wall part of their house structure and using the moat to form their garden.

As we walked the wall, we looked out the small openings in the wall, probably used to look for approaching enemy and saw what looked like a drained moat. Since the wall was no longer needed for defensive purposes, people have used the moat as part of their backyard, adding basketball courts, trampolines and mini golf courses to it. The city has also repurposed parts of it for playgrounds and parks.

The meteorite impact created a rock called suevite. The townspeople used this rock to build a church (St. George) in the middle of town and its tower, called the Daniel. For a small fee, you can climb the Daniel. Very creaky old wooden stairs climb 90m (about 300ft) to the top of the bell tower. It was by far the scariest thing this acrophobe has done. Once at the top, the view is priceless. In the foreground, clusters of red roofs of the town below stretch out to form an almost perfect circle in every direction. In the background, small hills encircle us in every direction, forming the perimeter of the meteor crater wall.

Afterwards, we walked out of Nordlingen town and headed towards the crater wall about 10 km away. (Nordlingen is near the middle of the crater). The return hike was 20km, which was a little further than our little one could have handled within the time constraints that we had. On the hike that we did do, we walked through neighborhoods, fields of wheat and corn, bordered by typical country roads, all on the floor of the crater wall. Look for suevite rock chips along the way. 

Of the German towns we visited, Nordlingen was our favorite German town, due to the crater history, medieval city wall, intense walk up an old creaky stairway for a wonderful view of the town and wide open spaces just outside the town itself.

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