Past the Weißer Turm and opposite the pedestrian zone, you’ll reach the former site of the Order of Teutonic Knights. If you look towards the Spittlertor Tower, you’ll see St. Elisabeth with its large, round dome on the right side and St. James’s Church on the left.
You’re now standing on the pilgrimage Way of St. James!
That’s why there is a pilgrim centerin the foyer of St. James’s Church. Countless pilgrim have stopped here and anyone interested in the topic is welcome! If you are curious about the subject of pilgrimage, this center will give you a good introduction.
Emperor Otto IV gave the Order of Teutonic Knights this land in 1209, including St. James and a royal manor. They began to build a hospital here. This was located where today St. Elisabeth and the police headquarters stand. In 1230, the Order took over care of the hospital of St. Elisabeth. From then until 1300, they purchased or received farms, mills, property and rights in Nuremberg and Franconia.
When the hospital was finished, it was known as the “Old Spital”. That’s because it was the nucleus of Nuremberg, the beginning of everything – even before the Imperial Castle was built. As the Order started to have money problems at the beginning of the 15th century, it sold its holdings within the city to Nuremberg’s city council in 1419 – but kept the buildings of the compound, the hospital and its church and cemetery.
When the city wall was completed in 1452, the area, which had been outside the gates of the city, became part of it. In 1525 (with the Reformation), Nuremberg became Lutheran, and it was only in the chapel of the hospital – the precursor of St. Elisabeth – that Catholic mass was held. It was only the members of the order who were allowed to attend, other Catholics staying in the city, such as traders from Italy, were excluded.
The problem: The Spittler Tower and Gate are located behind the hospital (Their name comes from the Elisabeth “spital” itself). When the emperor entered the city on his horse, he couldn’t pass under the bridge. The city council made the Order remove the span in 1612. A new and higher bridge was built. In 1635, the bridge was finally taken down, because there were only a few people living in the compound, with a handful of monks.
The reason was its purchase by the Bamberg Diocese, which wanted a third church in the city, in addition to the Church of Our Lady and St. Clare’s. The shell was quickly built, but when money ran out, completion was delayed. It was 100 years later, at the beginning of the 20th century, that the interior was finished.