Optional Excursion to
Bayreuth Wagner Festival Tour Program
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OPTIONAL EXCURSION TO NUERNBERG
Until the 1940's Nuernberg was the best preserved medieval city in Germany , but 90% of the town was reduced to ruins during the air raids of the Second World War. The surviving buildings and the reconstruction work have contributed to at least a partial retention of Nuenberg's unique atmosphere.
Situated in the central Franconian basin, Nurnberg is referred to as the secret capital of Bavaria . The city was founded 1000AD. It was the seat of government for the Graf Freidrich III Von Hohenzollern and his family was later to become famous for its royal alliances. (Particularly with the British Royal family).
We will visit the famous Marketplace or Hauptmarkt which in 1347 was the scene of the horrendous deaths of 600 Jews. Kaiser Karl IV had ordered the destruction of the Jewish quarter to make room for the market. Whilst the medieval market still stands, many of the houses which surrounded it were destroyed in World War 11.
The most important structure in the square is the Schoner Brunnen (the Beautiful Fountain) that rises to some 60 feet and has been constructed in the form of a Gothic church tower. On it are carved figures representing the liberal arts, seven princes, 3 Christian and 3 Jewish religious figures as well as classical generals and statesmen. Towering above them is Moses holding the tablets.
During the 15th and 16th century, Nuernberg was one of the cultural and political centres of Europe . Die Meistersingerhalle brings to mind the flourishing Nuernberg music and poetry guilds of that period. It was this period that inspired Wagner to compose the opera " Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg ". A completely new production of this opera will be staged at Bayreuth .
We will also visit the monument to Hans Sachs whose life was immortalised in this opera. The statue was erected in 1874 to give recognition to the city's most famous 16th century poet (1494-1576). He belonged to the Nuernberger Meistersinger's but he also achieved considerable fame as a cobbler -poet.
For students of modern history, the name Nürnberg is also associated with the enormous Nazi party gatherings that took place in the city. The Nuernberg Laws of 1935, passed by the Reichstag, were directed against Nuernberg's large Jewish population. These laws which restricted the freedom of the Jews, were an introduction to the holocaust.
\We will also visit the Zepplinfeld from where the Zepplins were launched during the 1930's. The Zepplins were used for regular passenger services between Germany and the United States until The Hindenburg air disaster over North America in 1937, which resulted in the loss of life of most of the passengers. Hence, all flights of the Zepplins were suspended and with the coming of World War II, were eventually disbanded completely. Close by is the stadium which used by the Nazi Party to stage the famous Nuernberg rallies.
After World War II, Nuernberg became the site of the War Crime Tribunals These trials were convened by the representatives of the victorious allies. It was here that Winifred Wagner, Richard Wagner's daughter-in-law stood trial for complicity with the Nazi party and later won her appeal against her conviction in 1948. But she was never allowed to have any involvement with the Bayreuth Festival again. Her two sons, Wolfgang and Wieland Wagner eventually became the two principal organizers of the Festival in 1949. But it was not until 1951 that the first post-war production at Bayreuth was possible.
The restoration of the city was completed in 1966 and today Nuernberg is a thriving metropolis with both old and new co existing along side each other. We will visit a marvellous book shop in the main square where you can buy a book called "Nürnberg Danals - heute" by Ray D'Addario who is an American photographer who took photos of Nuernberg after the bombing in 1945 and again in 1989. The result is a documented picture book of the marvellous rebuilding progress made by the Germans during the last 50 years. It also reminds us of the senseless destruction brought about by man's quest for power and superiority.
After our tour of Nuernberg we will transfer back to Bayreuth and our hotel.
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