The incredible town with walls made of diamonds built inside meteor crater

Bavaria, Germany’s largest and southernmost state is usually known for its beery Munich Oktoberfest festivals, the medieval Neuschwanstein castle and magnificent palaces. 

But did you know that it’s also home to one of the biggest meteorite craters on earth, and that the Germans had the audacity to build a beautiful town inside it? 

Nordlingen is a magical town unlike any other on the planet.

Built in the Middle Ages, Nordlingen’s original walls and buildings literally sparkle with millions of diamonds. 

The impact of the meteorite from 14 million years ago left 72,000 tons of micro diamonds in the local environment, and workers quarried the stone from the crater to build the stunning settlement.

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You won’t be able to grab them for your necklace though; the diamonds are less than 0.2mm wide. 

It took a whole thousand years for the Germans to realise that their beloved Nordlingen stood in a meteor crater – until 1960 they thought it was a volcanic one. 

This theory was disproved by two American scientists, Eugene Shoemaker and Edward Chao, who scratched the walls of a church and discovered it contained quartz, a type of rock only formed from meteor impacts. 

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The original city walls from 1327 remain fully intact, despite Nordlingen’s role in the Thirty Years’ War as the site of two bloody battles, eleven years apart. 

Nowadays it is a popular tourist attraction for Germans who like to climb to the top of the St. Georgs church to take in the awesome views of the quaint old town. 

Also popular is the Ries Crater Museum which displays a moon rock from the Apollo 16 mission. 

The crater has been studied extensively and was even used for training before the famed Apollo 14 mission in 1971 because of its similarities to a moon crater. The mission was the third ever to land successfully and the first to land on the lunar highlands.

Walk along the old city walls and the tight, winding streets to uncover a different world of Bavarian heritage. Keep an eye out for the watch towers and little bollards with funny faces carved into them.

If you’re interested in visiting, the town’s top hotel, the Kloesterle Noerdlingen, is 4 stars on Tripadvisor and located right in the heart of Nordlingen.

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