Think there’s a place in the world to visit paved not with gold, but built from diamonds? Well, Nördlingen in Bavaria just is that very place!
Less than 8 km away, the Nördlinger Ries, a deep crater in the Earth, was created by a meteor some 14 million years ago. The force of the impact somehow created 72,000 tons of diamonds, all a size less than half a millimeter. Quarried stones were used to create the buildings that grace the glittering hamlet.
A trip to the Ries Crater Museum explains all the nuances of the Ries, as well as having fossils, rocks, meteorite exhibits, and guided tours of the crater. NASA was even gracious enough to loan the museum real pieces of moon rock, which are on permanent display. Even better… the museum sits in a medieval barn built in 1503!
A building a bit older than the medieval barn is the St. Georg Church and the Daniel Tower. Construction on the church began in 1427, with the foundation to the tower starting in 1454. St. Georg’s Church was originally Catholic, becoming Protestant sometime during the Reformation from 1523/1525. The “Daniel Tower” wasn’t completed until 1639, soaring some 90 meters above the ground. Climb all 350 steps to the top and enjoy a prime view of the town and countryside.
Nördlingen’s Town Hall is the oldest stone-built structure in town. Dating back from the 13th century and once a monastery, it has stood as the Town Hall for over 600 years.
You can learn more about the history of Nördlingen at the Town Museum housed in the former Holy Spirit Hospital. There are exhibits that tell the story of the area’s settlements dating back from the Stone Age, Roman times, and through the Middle Ages.
For any of you over the age of 30 (as I am), you might remember the end scene of Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory, (the Gene Wilder 1971 version for the rest of you) when Charlie, Willy Wonka, and Grandpa fly out the factory on the glass elevator and over a brilliant little town.
Well, that brilliant little town was Nördlingen. And no, you won’t have to find one of Wonka’s Golden Tickets to visit it. ;-)