Nuremberg city center.
Below the castle, only a few steps from the Dürer house.
Obere Schmiedgasse 52, 90403 Nürnberg.
Meeting point: Brauereiladen, Bergstr. 19.
All year daily 14.
Groups after appointment.
Adults EUR 4.50, Children (0-10) free, Seniors EUR 3.50, School Pupils EUR 3.50, Students EUR 3.50.
|Classification:||Cellar World War II Bunker|
|Guided tours:||D=60min. In: on request.|
Historischer Kunstbunker im Burgberg, Obere Schmiedgasse 52, 90403 Nürnberg, Tel: +49-911-2305592.
Förderverein Nürnberger Felsengänge e.V., Bergstraße 19, 90403 Nürnberg, Tel: +49-911-227066, Fax: +49-911-2305591. E-mail:
Museen der Stadt Nürnberg, Hirschelgasse 9-11, 90317 Nürnberg, Tel: +49-911-231-5421
NKG GmbH Nürnberger Kellerverwaltungsgesellschaft, Bergstraße 19, 90403 Nürnberg, Tel: +49-911-2449859, Fax: +49-911-23555365. E-mail:
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|1380||first evidence of cellars in the castle mountain.|
|20-SEP-1938||first plannings for an art bunker.|
|26-AUG-1939||improvement of medieval cellar with climate controll and security equipment.|
|1940||start of tranfer of valuable art works into the bunker.|
|1941||first official acknowledgement of the art bunker and intensified transfer of art works.|
|Image: The entrance to the Kunstbunker.|
The Kunstbunker (art bunker) in the castle mountain of Nuremberg is well worth a visit, for two different reasons. First it is a Medieval cellar used for storing wine and later beer. To learn more about this history of Nurembergs cellars have a look at the Nuremberg Rock-cut Cellars page. But more interesting is the second reason: the cellars were used to store all important artworks of Nuremberg during World War II.
Even before the war first plans were made to protect the artworks of Nuremberg. Hitler personally made Liebl, the Nazi mayor of Nuremberg, responsible for the protection of the Reichskleinodien or Reichsinsignien, the Imperial Insignia, the Insignia of the Holy Roman Empire. They were of immense importance for the Nazi propaganda, as they were relocated from occupied Vienna to Nuremberg under enormous publicity. With an directive from 1938 the planning of air raid shelters started in Germany, and also in Nuremberg. Plans were developed to use the medieval cellars, owned by the city, to build a special bunker for art, to save as many important masterpieces of art as possible. Another directive from the 26-AUG-1939 started the development of the bunker.
The development of the art bunker was completed in the unbelievable time of six months. The cellar rooms were cool and damp, not the right atmosphere to store valuable art. It was necessary to controll the climate in the whole bunker. At first the whole cellars were walled with clinker, then floor walls and ceiling were painted with waterproof tar. The next layer was fiberglass for thermal isolation. The floor was covered with a wooden floor, the walls and ceilings with Heraklit boards (made of wood and cement) and a cardboard paneling. So the rooms were isolated from humidity and temperature of the sandstone, and it was possible to heat them. The heating system were two big ovens for coal. Two air conditioning systems allowed to cool, and much more important: to condense water which allows the regulation of the humidity. A huge blower distributed the air into the whole bunker. The conditions were so ideal, a priest bringing his art to the bunker, was sorrow that he was not able to provide similar conditions in his church. The whole climate controll system, except the two ovens and the generator, are still on display, but it does not work any more.
When the bunker was completed, the storage of the art started. Good connections to many priests, the mayor of Nürnberg, and the manager of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum allowed a discreet transfer of many works. Some were officially taken away for restauration, some were replaced by copies. The cooperation with the chief of the Nürnberg Police made the wardership of the bunker by police officers possible. Their main purpose was the regulation of temperature and humidity. They were placed in the vestibule of the bunker and had no access to the art inside, which was protected by huge steel doors. The most important works in the bunker were
During the war, this was the highest concentration of art treasures in Europe!
But the usage as an art bunker was not restricted on this single cellar. Additional shelters were in the Neutorturm and the Felsenkeller am Paniersplatz. The other cellars were also used as air raid shelters for the citizens of Nürnberg. They were connected by newly made tunnels, so the people could escape even when several entrances were collapsed. This concept worked rather well: during the war only 6,000 people died during air raids in Nürnberg, although Nürnberg was the most heavily destroyed city of this war!
After the war, the American occupation planned to send the art works as reparation back to the United States. To prevent at least the Imperial Insignia from being confiscated, the responsible persons had to save them a second time. In a top secret operation they took them away from the bunker, hid them in a niche in another cellar and enclosed them with a wall. After some time a discussion in the American public stopped this organized plundering, and the American Government pledged itself, to give the art back to the original owner. The responsible persons revealed the location of the Imperial Insignia and they were given back to the city of Vienna, where the Nazis had stolen them (they called it "return to the empire"). Today you may visit the originals in vienna and copies in Nürnberg. During the war and the storage in the art bunker not a single piece was damaged or got lost. All the pieces are today back on their original place.