Nordlingen is a town nearly 15 million years in the making. Although it has only been populated in a modern sense for the last 1200 years, the town is neatly centered in the middle of a crater caused by a giant meteor crashing into the Bavarian countryside.
Scientists estimate the meteor size at around 1.5 kilometers, although the depression it left is nearly 24 kilometers in diameter. Miraculously, the meteor left a perfectly bowl-shaped depression around 100-150 meters into the earth, forming a unique valley for Nordlingen, and the other surrounding villages.
Fully embracing their cosmic past, the residents have incorporated many parts of the meteor into the structures of their town. Parts of the meteor have been mined and used in many of the buildings in the town. The church is even encrusted with meteorites.
Visitors looking for a great view of the surrounding crater edges should climb the Nordlingen church tower or take one of the Ries Crater tours offered via airplane.
Know Before You Go
Nördlingen is part of the Romantic Road and has a train station that also hosts a notable train museum, including workable historic steam engines.