Beneath Nuremberg's old town is an extensive labyrinth – the partly more than 600 year old rock-cut cellars. This is where the traditional Nuremberg Rotbier (red ale) used to mature. Beer specialities from the Altstadthof independent brewery are still stored here.
Groups of visitors regularly go down into the rock-cut cellars. Guided tours start at Albrecht-Dürer-Platz, where a stairway leads into Nuremberg's underworld.
The oldest written mention of the cellars which has been handed down to us comes from the year 1380. In the subsequent centuries, the citizens of Nuremberg repeatedly hewed storage rooms in the sandstone of the castle and undertook extensions. In some places, the rock-cut cellars have several levels: for example, the rock-cut cellars go underground four storeys deep at Albrecht-Dürer-Platz..
Thanks to the relatively constant temperatures of between 8 and 10°C there, the cellars are excellently suited for the maturation process of the bottom-fermented beer that is frequently brewed in Nuremberg. Therefore, people of Nuremberg primarily used them for the storage of beer.
But the rock-cut cellars have also saved many lives. In the Second World War, the system of cellars was partly developed into air raid shelters. In spite of the tremendous destruction which befell the city as a result of the bombing, the cellars provided shelter for thousands of people.
The cellars extended over more than 20,000 square metres. Thus, it is not only of significance in the history of brewing in Nuremberg, but is also the largest rock-cut cellar system in southern Germany.
The publication “Genuss mit Geschichte. Reisen zu bayerischen Denkmälern – Brauhäuser, Bierkeller, Hopfen und Malz.”, which was published in July, provides further interesting insights into listed buildings related to the subject of beer. Composed by Karl Gattinger and issued by the Bavarian State Office for the Preservation of Monuments, the volume is published by the Volk Verlag and available in bookshops.