Nördlingen is a town in the Donau-Ries district, in Bavaria, Germany, with a population of approximately 24,000. It was first mentioned in recorded history in 898, and in 1998 the town celebrated its 1100th anniversary. The town was the location of two battles during the Thirty Years’ War, which took place between 1618–1648. Today it is one of only three towns in Germany that still has a completely established city wall, the other two being Rothenburg ob der Tauber and Dinkelsbühl.

Another attraction in the town is the Saint Georg’s Church’s 90 m steeple, called “Daniel”, which is made of a suevite impact breccia that contains shocked quartz. Other notable buildings are the town hall (which dates to the 13th century), St. Salvator church and the Spital, a former medieval hospital. The Ries crater museum is located in the well-preserved medieval tanner’s quarter.

The city is home to several other museums, such as the Bavarian Railway Museum, the Nördlingen city museum (Stadtmuseum), the city wall museum (Stadtmauermuseum) and Augenblick museum with panoramas, magic lanterns, silent films, barrel organs, pianolas, music boxes and gramophones.

Nördlingen is also known for the Scharlachrennen, a horse riding tournament that was first mentioned in 1463.


The remains of a Roman castellum, built in the year 85 and probably called Septemiacum, have been found under the city. In 1998, Nördlingen celebrated its 1100-year-old history.

Nördlingen was one of Germany’s major trading towns, until its importance declined with the battles of the Thirty Years’ War. In 1215 Emperor Frederick II declared Nördlingen a Free Imperial City, and it remained so until 1802 when it changed to become part of present-day Bavaria. The Nördlingen trade fair (Pfingstmesse) was first mentioned in 1219.

A well-documented legal case of 1471 involved the prostitute Els von Eystett who worked in Nördlingen’s Frauenhaus, an officially sanctioned municipal brothel.

Nördlingen was one of the first Protestant cities and took part in the Protestation at Speyer in 1529.

In 1604 a shortened and simplified version of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet was performed in Nördlingen; this was one of the first performances of any Shakespearean play outside England.

Nördlingen saw two major battles during the Thirty Years’ War: the Battle of Nördlingen (1634) and the Battle of Nördlingen (1645).

Popular culture

The fairytale-ballet anime Princess Tutu is set in the fictional Kinkan Town, which is heavily based on Nördlingen

Nördlingen was the town shown in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory in 1971, when in the final scenes the glass elevator is floating over a town.

The town shown in the anime Attack on Titan also bears a striking resemblance to Nördlingen, with similar architecture and a wall surrounding the city, as shown in the TBS documentary show Discovery of the World’s Mysteries.

Impact diamonds

Stone buildings in the town contain millions of tiny diamonds, all less than 0.2 millimeters across. The impact that caused the Nördlinger Ries crater created an estimated 72000 tons of them when it impacted a local graphite deposit. Stone from this area was later quarried and used to build the stone buildings.


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