One of the first clues to the history and whereabouts of the Holy Diamond, in the novel The Holy Diamond is the Kaiserburg in Nuremburg. Before I tell you about this fascinating palace-fortress, I want to note that both the site and the city were a bit challenging to write about within the novel, as they go by different names and/or spellings.
The Kaiserburg could also be called Imperial Castle and Nuremburg Castle, or less commonly the Imperial Residence. For simplicity’s sake, I tried to stick with one name within the novel, or the Kaiserburg which in English means Imperial Castle. You might also say Reichsschloß, but I will let German linguistics experts weigh in on what the difference is.
Nuremburg the city, in terms of spelling, was an even greater challenge. First, any word with the German ü can be spelled, in English, as ü, u, or ue. So a common word that one might see in history books (such as those used to research my novel, The Holy Diamond) would be Führer, Fuehrer, or Fuhrer. All of them are correct and widely used. Second, Nuremburg could also be spelled Nurnberg, Nürnberg, Nuernberg and of course Nuremberg. I settled on the latter if, for no other reason, than that is what Wikipedia seemed to suggest.
Back to the Kaiserburg…
When I visited the Kaiserburg, I had not completely conceived my novel. If I had, I would have taken more photos! I think at the point in which I had visited the Kaiserburg, I knew I was going to write a novel about a diamond, but I had neither a plot nor locations. Not only did I not envision the Kaiserburg as being in my novel, but I had not considered Nuremburg in general. Had I known it would become a central, prominent location of my novel I would have both spent more time there, visited more sites, and taken more photos!
Nonetheless, I at least visited the Kaiserburg in its entirety. Not necessarily by choice. The interior is only visitable by guided tour. Oh the guided tour! Enemy of my time and patience…
In my many travels, I am occasionally (fortunately not always) confronted by the guided tour or NO tour; ie. If I want to visit something, it’s got to be guided, or I ain’t gonna see it. Wow, what a predicament
Guided tours are not EVIL, but they are a bit annoying. Why? They take longer than my mind and feet move, they usually involve waiting around for the start, and they are usually more rather than less tedious. It’s a personal observation, of course… but this is a personal blog.
Sometimes I decide that I have neither the time nor the patience for the mandatory tour; but as often as not, I suck it up and sit on my butt impatiently waiting for the guide to call the assembled to order. Thus it was at the Kaiserburg.
It was a beautiful, sunny early October day. The gray, cloudy skies Germany is famous for were nowhere to be seen. The tour begins as I describe it in my novel: in a courtyard surrounded on one side by stone and wooden ramparts on which bright, red leafy vines were growing. After purchasing my ticket for the guided tour – which was the only way one could enter the palace-castle – I sat upon a bench waiting impatiently for some twenty minutes, reading Lonely Planet Germany on my Amazon Kindle (keyboard version, at the time) and planning the following steps of my day in Nuremburg.
The autumn-leafed courtyard of the Kaiserburg. (Photo: LH Dooley)
Eventually, though on time, the guide appeared and we were led up steps into the Kaiserburg. I will not repeat my description of the tour, but only mention a few highlights. First, most of the palace is precisely as I described it. The first room is rather bare, and I paced impatiently while the guide prattled on in German long after I had finished reading the two-page description of the hall in English. The best feature of this first hall was the commanding view over the city.
The two-level chapel in the Kaiserburg. It features prominently in The Holy Diamond. (Photo: LH Dooley)
Second, the two-level chapel was definitely the highlight of the palace. Its layout is as described in the novel, though as the lower chamber is closed I can only guess (or imagine) what it looks like. It was, however, in truth a chapel of the Teutonic Knights as stated in the novel. The rest of the Kaiserburg is not especially memorable – but for the replica of the Crown of the Holy Roman Emperor, the real one of which sits in the Hofburg Treasury in Vienna. The guide told the story of how the crown had been removed from Nuremburg by the Hapsburgs and put in Vienna in the city’s Fine Arts Museum (Kunsthistorisches Museum), returned by the Nazis to Nuremberg, then returned to Vienna by the Allies. A bit of a complicated story that serves as a microcosm of the tangled history of the Germanic lands.
The first hall on the guided tour of the Kaiserburg. (Photo: LH Dooley)