January 20, 2015

The Meteor Crater of Nördlingen

It is the stuff of apocalyptic films: a large meteor is on a crash-course to strike the planet, threatening to kill all living life and altering the landscape of the earth forever.  However, such impacts have actually happened multiple times in the earth's history, leaving large, circular scars as a fascinating reminder that the universe is bigger than just our beloved planet.  One such crater exists in Germany's southern state of Bavaria and is known as the Nördlinger Ries.

While Meteor Crater in Arizona is possibly the best preserved and the recently-discovered impact in Greenland may be the oldest, the Nördlingen Ries is not as well-known to most or large, despite the fact that it is the most studied craters and even American astronauts studied there before taking trips to the moon.  The crater originally measured at 24 kilometers wide (15 miles) and may actually be the result of two nearly simultaneous impacts from meteors nearly 1km wide.

The crater is named for the town of Nördlingen, located 6 kilometers southwest of the impact center. As you drive to Nördlingen from any direction, you crest over the crater's ridge before descending into the bowl-like valley.  A climb of the Daniel tower in the town affords great views of the crater rim encircling the the region.  The tower itself was constructed in the 15th century from suevite impact breccia, a type of rock found only in the impact zones of a meteor.

The Rieskrater-Museum in Nördlingen is a well-organized exhibition of the crater's history and geology.  It is worth the 4.50€ admission to gain a better understanding of the crater from displays in both German and English.

The Daniel Tower of Nördlingen

Have you visited the Nördlinger Ries or the town of Nördlingen?

Linking up with Bonnie Rose & other travel bloggers for #TravelTuesday!


  1. Wow, I had no idea anything like that existed in Germany! I've been to Bavaria twice, but have never heard of it :)

  2. Never heard of this, thanks for sharing it!


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