Nuremberg, 1561

You might think UFOs had their heyday in the 1950s-1970s, but there are many interesting stories from hundreds of years before. Yes, you read that right *hundreds* of years before. One of the most interesting UFO reports comes from Nuremberg.

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On a seemingly normal morning on April 14th, 1561, chaos broke loose in the skies over Nuremberg. In the sky, seemingly out of nowhere, crosses, tubes, wheels and other strangely shaped multi-colored objects appeared over the city. They were said to number in the hundreds and appeared to be smoking. In fact, some even crashed into the ground (although their remains were never discovered). One thing that was noticeable? The smoke, which was apparently visible for miles. After the battle and the skies had somewhat cleared, it was said a large black, spear-like object was seen in the sky. Almost every witness that observed this strange event categorized it as a ‘battle’ or in some way aggressive.

This event was recorded in the Nuremberg Gazette shortly after, and it is no surprise. It is said that people emptied out of homes, businesses, churches, and other buildings to get a better view of what was happening in the skies above. Although there is clearly no picture, artist Hans Glaser created an image of the strange event for the Nuremberg Gazette.

Interestingly enough, I haven’t really found any stories or reports commenting about noise or spell. It seems that this was a highly visual event. This surprised me a bit, as there are significant reports of smoke. I wonder if the smoke was also in the air and it was just a typical smoke smell, or if it was largely ‘normal’ smelling.

The entire event began early in the morning shortly after dawn and lasted about an hour. Ancient Origins (the third link) shared a translated abstract from the paper, “The dreadful apparition filled the morning sky with cylindrical shapes from which emerged black, red, orange and blue-white spheres that darted about. Between the spheres, there were crosses with the color of blood. This frightful spectacle was witnessed by ‘numerous men and women.’ Afterwards, a black, spear-like object appeared. The author of the Gazette warned that ‘the God-fearing will by no means discard these signs, but will take it to heart as a warning of their merciful Father in heaven, will mend their lives and faithfully beg God, that he avert His wrath, including the well-deserved punishment, on us, so that we may, temporarily here and perpetually there, live as His children.”

Scientists theorize that the events were not UFOs or cognizant creatures but a freak meteor shower and perhaps some comets as well. Another trick of the light could be caused by ‘sun dogs’, although the witness accounts don’t make them seem very likely. It is believed that the people at the time thought it was an act of God (or gods) and took place in heaven. Others theorize it was early air tech gone wrong (or even fireworks), but airplanes and the concept of humans and large objects in flight were still centuries away.

Just a few years later another similar event took place nearby in Basel, Switzerland. However, instead of the colorful and bright display that the citizens of Nuremberg witness, the Basel event only involved black orbs. This event was also recorded in the city’s gazette.

What do you think happened that day? Was it an astonishing battle in the sky? Is there an astonishing, yet non-supernatural, explanation?




The above photo is Celestial phenomenon over the German city of Nuremberg on April 14, 1561, as printed in an illustrated news notice in the same month. It is licensed in the public domain.