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Where the Monuments Men Were on Duty: Nuremberg's Art Bunker

Nuremberg's most impressive bunker complex from the Second World War: Securely hidden, deep in the rock of the castle hill, the most important art treasures of Nuremberg survived the hail of bombs of World War II unscathed.

Der historische Kunstbunker Nürnberg ist in seiner Art einmalig in Deutschland. Hier überlebten die wichtigsten Kunstschätze der Stadt den Bombenhagel des Zweiten Weltkriegs, aber auch „Gäste“ wie die Reichskleinodien, der Krakauer Marienaltar ode

The Historic Art Bunker in Nuremberg © Uwe Kabelitz

Just after the beginning of the war, a storage facility with elaborate technology - the only one of its kind in Germany - was created to protect valuable works of art from fire, smoke, gas and looting.

Safe from bombs, matchless cultural objects were kept in this one-of-a-kind salvage complex. They included famous Nuremberg artworks such as Veit Stoss's Annunciation from St. Lorenz's Church; the "Männleinlaufen" clock from the Church of Our Lady; Martin Behaim's globe; paintings, copper prints and documents from Albrecht Dürer; historical music instruments; altarpieces, stained-glass windows and choir stalls from all the Old Town churches and scientific instruments and horological devices.

But it wasn't just local art that found a place here: Veit Stoss's High Altar of Our Lady from Cracow - stolen from Poland by the Nazis - and the Imperial Insignia of the Holy Roman Empire from Austria were also stored here during the war.

That's why the so-called Monuments Men of the US Army -whose task it was protect cultural property in war areas during and after World War II -- had an important mission to fulfill in Nuremberg: While the battle was still raging in the city, they pressed forward to the art bunker to protect it from destruction and looting and to later give the stolen art and artifacts back to their owners.

In contrast to the bunker and the art treasures protected there, large parts of the city and, in particular, many historically valuable structures in the Old Town were completely destroyed. Some of these buildings could be reconstructed; others were irretrievably lost.

You can follow in the footsteps of the Monuments Men: A tour through the Historical Art Bunker focusing on art air-raid protection and the destruction and reconstruction of Nuremberg takes place daily.

Art Bunker Tours:
Length: ca. 75 minutes
Monday to Sunday: 2:30 pm
Friday and Saturday: 2:30 pm and 5:30 pm
Adults: 6 Euros Students: 5 Euros Children under 7 free when accompanied by an adult
Groups (in German): 90 Euros Groups (in a foreign language): 100 Euros Organizers: Förderverein Nürnberger Felsengänge e.V. (Association for the Nuremberg Rock Cut Cellars)

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