The city lies within the Ries Basin, a 25 km crater caused when a meteorite struck the earth 15 million years ago. This is one of the best preserved craters on earth, as well as being the only known rampart crater on the planet. It was used by US astronauts to train for the moon landing. In exchange for the use of the area, Nördlingen received moon rocks which are now on display in a museum in the city. Another effect of the meteor strike is that a locally quarried rock, which was used to build many of the older stone buildings, contains millions of tiny fragments of diamonds, as well as pieces of quartz and other rocks.
The city is surrounded by a wall, built in the 14th century, which follows the rim of the crater. In the center of the city is St Georgskirsche. From here, 5 main roads radiate to the wall, which has 12 gates.
The "official" first mention of Nördlingen comes in 898 CE when "Nordilinga" is used. The 1100th birthday festivities took place in 1998.
Nördlingen grew to prominence because of its importance in trade in the area. It was a Free City and the local fair was one of the most important in this region in the Middle Ages. Testimony to that can be seen in the numbers of houses and buildings which still exist that used to house tradesmen's goods or a market for their wares.
The town walls and fortifications had been built in the 14th century and Nördlingen was the site of a battle between Catholic and Protestant forces in the Thirty Years' War in the 17th century. Nördlingen eventually lost its independence and became part of Bavaria at the start of the 19th century and is now the administrative centre of the Donau-Ries area.
Nördlingen has 1 a railway station (to the east of the town). Nördlingen is on a regional rail line, which generally connects to the main rail hubs through the town of Donauwörth to the south. Deutsche Bahn operates hourly train service to Munich (€21, 2 hours), Augsburg (€12, 1 hour), and Stuttgart (€18, 2 hours).
- See also: intercity buses in Germany
The city is very small and can be covered by foot. The tourist offices runs daily tours in the summer at 2pm and 8:30pm for €3.
- Radsport Bockle, Remlinger Straße 19. Rents bicycles for €8 per day.
- St. Georgskirche. Built in 1499, it is one of the largest churches in Germany. Climb the 90m tower for the best views overlooking the city and the crater. Church: Free; Watchtower: €2.
- 1 Rieskrater Museum, Eugene-Shoemaker-Platz 1. 10:00-12:00 &13:30 - 16:30; Closed Mondays. Situated in an old barn, this museum shows the impacts of meteor collisions with earth. Moon rock, on loan from NASA, is on display. €4.
- 2 Bayerisches Eisenbahn Museum, behind the Hauptbahnhof. 100 trains on display. On Sundays in the summer, you can take a 2 hour return trip to Dinkelbuhl on an old-fashioned locomotive. Museum: Adult: €6, Child 5 - 14 years: €3; Train ride: Adult: €18, Child €12.
- 3 Stadtmuseum Nördlingen, Vordere Gerbergasse 1. til 5. November Tue - Sun: 13:30 - 16:30 h. Displays local costumes. €3.
- 4 Stadtmauermuseum Nördlingen, An der Löpsinger Mauer 3. Tue-Sun 10am-4:30pm April-October. Shows the history of the wall surrounding the city. €1.
- Walk Along the City Walls. The city walls are completely preserved and available for touring. It represents the longest continuous walkable battlements in Germany. The fortification includes 11 towers and 5 gates. It takes about an hour and 2.6 km to circumnavigate the city. Free.
- Nördlinger Pfingstmesse. 14-day exhibition of local crafts, food, and beer.
- 1 Schlössle, Würzburger Straße 1, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. daily (except Tu): 11:00-14:30 and 17:00-23:00. mains 8€ to 15€.
- Hotel Goldene Rose, Baldinger Straße 42, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. single 35€ to 45€ double 55€ to 65€.
- Hotel NH Klösterle, Beim Klösterle 1, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. It's a chain hotel, alright, but the location could be worse as could be the way it looks from the outside soingle / double: 99€.