Fluid, dark and hot to the boiling point, filling the air with a fragrance of malice and mischief.  The night a black heavy mantle, pungent from the brew and full of excitement for on this night there will be rights-of-passage experienced and men will fight and die for King, Country and each other.

The battle ax and ram do their work under heavy wood and metal shields at the Hangman’s Bridge.  Under pressure, the massive doors collapse, the war cry rises as in a single voice and the horde rushes upward into the undiscovered keep’s mantrap just to the left of TiergartnerTor.

Now above, the defenders strong arms straining with the boiling heat and tension of the timber cantilevers, arch back, put their strength to it and tip the iron cauldrons spilling the liquid fire through the inverted stone funnels over the passage.

This is the moment for courage and luck on the crowd’s part, compressed in between their rushing infantrymen and a second set of thick doors…. Panic, screams, anger, dead silence, laughter….?

The laughter of the couple next to me on the ramparts break the trance like imagery and, as I turn around, the walled city of Nuremberg spreads below this point like a sculpted carpet of tiled roofs, spirals and steeples on an azure sky with a fingernail moon.

Gone from my vagrant mind are the imaginings of what an attempt to overtake the Imperial Castle must have been like, futile and deadly.

Nuremberg, a walled city majestically built upon a vast undulating area rising rapidly on one rocky end, is now at peace, prospering through its citizens, history and architectural beauty.

One does not have to be focused to experience the place, it exists as a weaving of old and new, inseparable and compatible as a favorite pair of jeans on a Saturday morning.

In the air there’s a medley of voices excited, giggling, relating life’s flow, apparent without the need for specific understanding. Whomever says that this language is harsh, hasn’t heard it in unison for a period of time. It is deep and artfully melodic, complex of structure, elegant.

There is to the scene an overall color of mauve blending perfectly between the newer pink stone and the dark taupe of the same aged overtime. This, capped by steep tile roofs leading one’s eyes toward its upper ridges, sagging from the weight of the seasons and time. They appear to rest, as a Lion will, poised and proud…the ends higher than the middle.

My steps, slow and purposefully without specific direction go with the flow of Konigstrasse, now a bit faster through the “straight” formed by fashion’s best shops, picking up speed around a tight bend by Breit Gasse and being propelled a quarter of the way into LorenzerPlatz before slowing down to take on the imposing presence of the Cathedral.

Here, like a river’s flow stilling itself within a wide bowl, one nearly stops and wonders about the artistry of the hammer and chisel on a craftsman’s hands day by day shaping inert stones into life everlasting.

The eye adapts to the monumental Franconia scale, still today reflected on its people….tall, straight, powerful.

Funny about these plazas, formed by rows of buildings heading in different directions, stopping short of colliding at the intersection and leaving what is left as an ad hoc open celebration for merchants to maximize, children to run through, people to admire and lovers to get lost in.

These are not like the disciplined open spaces of Paris designed to control the senses, rather spontaneous and juxtaposed fostering an easiness of interaction with its fountains at HefnersPlatz and HauptMarkt or the tilted and irregular square at Tiergartnertor.

I too melded with the environment, feeling fortunate for each daydreaming step.

The skies darken and the light settles while the architecture envelops all into itself. As the air becomes colder and heavier, it best carries the sound of the intricate tower clock of Frauenkirche striking, with its iron hammer, the bell announcing the half hour.

One soulful ring carrying in its tail the sound of a lone trumpet violin working through “Amazing Grace” a gentle and hopeful virtual “home” for the mind.

Time for one last look, the house bridge over the north end of RathausPlatz barely visible, in slight relief over the collage of buildings rising toward the Burg.

A tout a l’heure Nuremberg… I’ll be back.

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