The site of six of Hitler’s infamous Nazi Party rallies sits southeast of Nuremberg city center, a vast tract of land covering 4.2 square miles (11 square kilometers) lying virtually untended a short, lakeside walk from the Nazi Documentation Center. The massive parade grounds and mammoth Modernist stadium, with its central focus on the stern, austere Zeppelin Grandstand, are slowly crumbling into dilapidation, and the German government is torn between knocking them down or preserving them as a reminder of the horrors of the Third Reich.
Built by Nazi architect Albert Speer in 1933, the stadium was designed as a “cathedral of light” with floodlight reaching up to the sky. It became a backdrop for some of Adolf Hitler’s most notorious speeches, when millions of Hitler youth and Nazi sympathizers attended his political rallies and were whipped into a frenzy of hatred against the Jews, leading to the passing of the notorious Nuremberg Laws and ultimately to the Holocaust. Today the colonnaded flanks to the Zeppelin Grandstand may be destroyed, but it is easy to conjure up the terrifying power of Hitler’s fanatical oratory. Visitors only need to look at the photographs and flickering black-and-white films displayed in the Nazi Documentation Center at the adjacent Congress Hall to relive the strength of his twisted charisma.
The transformer station that supplied the electricity for Hitler’s “cathedral of light” is on nearby Regensburger Strasse, with the Nazi party’s symbolic eagle still emblazoned on its flank. Nowadays it is a fast-food restaurant, while much of the land around the Zeppelin Grandstand has been given over to cyclists, joggers and picnicking families.
Located at Bayernstrasse, the site is open 24 hours a day with free admission. Take Tram Line 9 or Bus line 36, 55, 65 to Doku-Zentrum, or train S2 to Dutzendteich Bahnhof.