Lauf an der Pegnitz is one of those towns that makes you feel like saying, Lo, how the mighty have fallen.
Well, maybe fallen is a bit strong. Sold out might be a better term!
The town was a trading powerhouse for centuries, and now that the townfolk are no longer the center of a vibrant trade culture they’ve decided to trade heavily on their cultural past to bring in present tourist dollars.
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To be fair, these days everybody has a gimmick. At least Lauf an der Pegnitz can honestly deliver the goods. As you come up on the town you get the first tastes. The old manor homes of nobles and rich merchants loom impressively up from the earth, and you can see church spires and castle points in the distance. Once you get into town, the historic old town has been meticulously saved as a pedestrian and tourist spot.
You can hang out in the square, where the cobble paving is surrounded by half-timber buildings and the town hall facades. Although a modern structure or two has managed to sneak in, it is a very nice historical neighborhood. In the winter months Lauf strings up white lights all around and it is really charming.
A major attraction to see is the Castle on the Island. Wenzel Castle in Lauf was built in 1360. A special feature of the castle is the stone carving. More than 100 coats of arms are on display, carved into the sandstone walls of the Imperial Hall of the castle.
Yet not everything in Lauf revolves around the old. In the summer there are two festivals that are very much about living in the now. Held the final weekend in June and the first part of July, they celebrate the town’s heritage with rock bands, amusement park rides and special parades. Other regular town holidays are held at Christmas, but these are the biggest festivals of the year.
By the way, “Lauf” translates to “Run” in English; no need to run that fast, though… ;-)