Grosse Strasse, Nürnberg
Originally planned as a grand parade route for the Nazi Party and its military, the Grosse Strasse sits relatively unused in between the Nazi Party Rally Grounds and the massive Kongresshalle. At the end of World War II, the 40 meter (132 ft) wide road was used as an airstrip for the Allied planes. Symbolically, the 2 km (1.2 mile) road points towards Kaiserberg and its attachment to the former Imperial status of Nürnberg.
The road is paved with granite slabs in black and grey and, although planned but not built, there was to be a grandstand for party leaders to watch the parades. Although built for parades, it was actually never used for this purpose due to the start of World War II and the military being sent to fight the war and the end of the Nazi Party Rallies.
On the day we visited the Grosse Strasse it was covered with a wet, slushy ice mixture; but it was not a busy area and only a few cars made their way along the road between the stadium and the Kongresshalle.
The Grosse Strasse can be seen as part of a walking tour that encompasses the Nazi Party Rally Grounds, the Kongresshalle, and other Nazi Party sites in this area.
One of the elements of Speer's Grand Design for the Nazi Party Rally Grounds was the Grossen Strasse (or 'Great Road'), which was 60m wide and designed to be 2km long (although only 1.5km could be completed before the outbreak of war).
The road is paved with granite blocks which were prepared with a 'non slip', roughened surface by forced labour in labour camps and laid out in a two-tone pattern to provide 'guidelines' for columns of troops marching in formation. Apparently the size of the blocks was selected on the basis that each 1.2m block corresponded with the average length of two Prussian goose steps (and doubtless there was some rigorous study conducted in advance to calculate this exact measurement). See photo for Small Son and I groundtruthing the design assumption ...
The Grossen Strasse was designed as an axis bisecting the Rally Grounds, leading from the Kongresshalle to the March Field. Speer aligned the road with Nuernberg Old Town and Castle to emphasise the symbolic link between the historical town and the new Nazi Party Rally Grounds. You cannot but marvel at the grandiose scale of Speer's vision and the detailed planning that went into weaving in every last opportunity for symbolism - it must indeed have been the dream architectural assignment.
In what would seem to be a deliberately calculated insult as well as a decision inspired by expediency, the United States Airforce used the Grossen Strasse as a landing strip after the war. Today - almost as prosaically - it is used as overflow parking for large events.
If you walk along the Grossen Strasse, on the side of the road adjacent to the lake, you'll see a few display boards that indicate the original location of Nuernberg Zoo which was relocated in 1939 to facilitate the construction of the Rally Grounds.
The Grosse Strasse (Great Road) was another grand scale Albert Speer project which started in 1935. The road points toward the Imperial Castle in the centre of Nuremburg. The road was intended to join the Congress Hall to the Märzfeld and would have been 2 km in length but only 1.5 km were constructed, with gaps at both ends. The road is 60 m wide and should have been 100 m wide with terracing on both side for the crowds. Some of the over grown terracing can still be seen in parts. 60,000 light grey granite slabs were laid each 1.2 m in length. This is the precise size of 2 goose steps of the matching troops. Work on the Grosse Strasse ended with the start of WW2 and it was never used for parades. After the end of WW2 it was used by the US Armed Force as a landing strip for light aircraft until 1968. Nowadays it is used mainly as a car park for the Exhibition Centre and the Football Stadium. Between 1991 and 1995 the Grosse Strasse was renovated but some of the road was concreted over.
As part of the nazi party rally grounds, it was also used for propaganda purposes. Here, on this 60-meter-wide street, the nazi parades were held. The has a length of almost 2 kilometers.
The concret tiles were designed to have the size of exactly one step as a help for the soldiers taking part in these events. Today, it serves as a big parking lot which is mainly used for the Nürnberger Volksfest, a funfair which takes place during summertime in Nürnberg.
Just up from the Kongressbau you will find the start of Grosse Strasse, the immense two kilometer stretch of straight road that the Nazi rallies would march down. At 60 meters wide, and with it now being used as a giant car park, it is difficult to see that it is even a road. That is until you stand smack in the center of it and look down. Looking from south to north you should be able to see the Kaiserburg in the distance at the end of the street.