Schöner Brunnen

Nestled in a popular market square of Nuremberg, Germany, you find the Schöner Brunnen, a fountain that serves as one of the city's most popular attractions. It is right next to the town hall, and drenched in intricate detail.

The Schöner Brunnen that stands in Hauptmarkt today is actually a replica that was placed there  in the early 20th century. The original masterpiece was built by Heinrich Beheim. The piece was started in 1385 and wasn't complete until 1396. Only fragments of the original fountain survive, and are held in the Germanisches National Museum. However, the wrought iron grill that encircles is a vintage piece, as it was created in 1587 by Paulus Kuhn of Augsburg.


The 62-foot fountain you admire today is a fantastic replica of the original. From far away you notice that the piece is in the shape of a spire. This tapering conical shape is associated with gothic-style architecture. Symbolically, spires have a couple of functions. They give the impression of strength and proclaim martial power. Also, they reach to the sky in a celestial gesture, which is why they are often found on old churches.

As you approach the fountain you see that there is a lot more to it than just its shape. The world's view of the Holy Romany Empire is represented by 40 colorful figures. These include:

  • Philosophy - The study of general problems connected with existence reality, language, mind, values, and knowledge.

  • Seven Liberal Arts - These were the introductory subjects offered in medieval universities, and included logic, grammar, rhetoric, arithmetic, astronomy, music theory, and geometry.

  • Four Evangelists - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John comprise the traditional Four Evangelists of Christianity.

  • Four Church Fathers - Interestingly, the Four Fathers are actually made up of eight figures because Western and Eastern Christianity both have four. These include Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, and Saint Gregory the Great in the Western Church, and Basil, Athanasius, Gregory of Nazianzus, and John Chrysostom in the East.

  • Seven Prince-Electors - The seven electors from the 13th century include Margrave of Brandenburg, Duke of Saxony, Count Palatine of the Rhine, King of Bohemia, Archbishop of Cologne, Archbishop of Trier, and Archbishop of Mainz.

  • Nine Worthies - Interestingly, the Nine Worthies include three good Pagans, three good Jews, and three Christians. In their respective order, these include Hector, Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, David, Judas, Maccabeus, Joshua, King Arthur, Godfrey of Bouillon, and Charlemagne.

  • Moses - A former Egyptian prince who turned to a prophet, according to the Hebrew Bible.

  • Seven Prophets - These include Amos, Daniel, Hosea, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Joel.

So, although this three-tiered fountain is stunning to look at, it is so much more than just an attractive piece of art. It tells the story of history in its design. The two brass rings that are embedded in the surrounding fence are rumored to bring good luck to those who spin them.