The Kongresshalle looms over Nuremberg like a misplaced relic of ancient Rome. Designed by Franz and Ludwig Ruff in 1935, it was to have been the centerpiece of the vast Nazi party rally grounds, flanked by triumphal parade-grounds and stadiums.
Once designs for the structure were complete, construction was started in earnest and on a vast scale: the completed Kongresshalle would have seated 50,000. One of the centerpieces of Hitler’s fantasy of a thousand-year Reich, its colonnades and layers of archways were designed to echo the Coliseum in Rome - another symbol of an empire triumphant.
The Second World War diverted attention away from the project, and the Kongresshalle was never completed. The building only reached about half its planned height of 70 meters . Much of the interior was Kongresshalle survived the war - and it was landmarked in its half-built state.
Today, the edifice houses the Documentation Center Museum. In addition to the history of the site (both the Kongresshalle and the surrounding rally grounds), the museum chronicles the rise of the Nazi party, the lead-up to World War II and the devastation of the conflict up to the aftermath reckoning of the Nuremberg Trials.
Through artifacts, original documents, and audiovisual media, the Center’s permanent “Fascination and Terror” exhibit brings visitors closer to the horrifying reality of the Third Reich and culminates in a panoramic view over the Kongresshalle from an unnerving suspended platform.