Ancient Origins Tour IRAQ

Ancient Origins Tour IRAQ Mobile

The celestial phenomenon over the German city of Nuremberg on April 14, 1561, as printed in an illustrated news notice in the same month. Source: Public Domain

The Mysterious 1561 Nuremberg Event ‘UFO Battle’


It was in April 1561 when all residents of Nuremberg, Germany, came out of their houses to investigate mysterious lights and loud sounds. They watched the sky, in awe and fear as they witnessed what appeared to be some kind of air battle—and all of this in broad daylight of the early morning.

The reports of event say it lasted for about an hour, and artist Hans Glaser documented this strange event for the German Nuremberg Gazette. Describing the event, he refers to crosses, tubes, wheels, multi-colored objects and globes over the city. Hundreds of them. Objects would disappear in smoke, some even crashing into the ground. The smoke was visible for miles.

This image and description have begged explanation for centuries. What on Earth could explain these phenomena that were seemingly witnessed by many people?

A Natural Event At Nuremberg?

Some would dismiss all of this to the appearance of meteors or comets, even other natural events, but the uniqueness of the Nuremberg incident eliminates such interpretations. The detailed description which is given by Glaser doesn’t seem to fit with any naturally occurring causes:

…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.’- Abstract from the Nuremberg Gazette.

The celestial phenomenon over the German city of Nuremberg on April 14, 1561, as printed in an illustrated news notice in the same month. (Public Domain)

The celestial phenomenon over the German city of Nuremberg on April 14, 1561, as printed in an illustrated news notice in the same month. (Public Domain)

Cylinders, crosses and a black spear-like object appearing in the sky are something that you would imagine seeing in a modern air-battle – but not something that would take place half a millennium ago!

Multiple Mis-reporting?

A few years later, in 1566, another similar event took place in Basel, Switzerland, but this time it involved black orbs in a sky skirmish above the city. That event was also recorded at the time in the city’s gazette.

Another similar event took place in 1697 in Hamburg, Germany, where the crowd watched two enormous glowing wheels in the sky above the city.

Multiple reports odd phenomena in the skies over major cities my multiple people have to be describing some peculiar event. Unfortunately, there were no cameras available back then to take photos or videos of the events, so newspaper references and drawings are our only evidence. These remain open to the interpretations of many, and also to the various differing descriptions of the eyewitnesses. But nonetheless, something happened in the sky that day.

Very bright sun dogs in Fargo, North Dakota. Also visible are parts of the 22° halo (the arcs passing through each sundog), a sun pillar (the vertical line) and the parhelic circle (the horizontal line). (Public Domain)

Very bright sun dogs in Fargo, North Dakota. Also visible are parts of the 22° halo (the arcs passing through each sundog), a sun pillar (the vertical line) and the parhelic circle (the horizontal line). (Public Domain)

Sun Dog Explanation

Frank Johnson has recently made an effort to debunk the Nuremberg event to sky reflections and the ‘sun dog’ lighting effect produced by the Sun, without offering any explanations for the sounds, the crashed objects or the smoke, and merely hypothesizing that these  particulars could simply be either the imagination of the people or nothing at all.

Another interpretation claims the whole description could be of a ground battle, with the cylinders being cannon and the spheres being the cannon balls.

Is it possible that the entire event never happened and the newspaper reference was just a joke or at least an exaggeration of peoples reporting? Johnson notes that the broadsheets of the time, “contained the news of the weird or violent, and they had no problem stretching the truth to sell a few copies”.

When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. Of course, all have not been eliminated here, but equally a terrestrial explanation is yet to have been found. The reporting of the event so resembles what you would expect from a sky battle of modern times that explanations of a battle between visiting aliens or even some kind of time shifting event remain on the table.

It is up to you to choose what to believe, but use the evidence and take it further, and above all investigate to find the truth.

Top image: The celestial phenomenon over the German city of Nuremberg on April 14, 1561, as printed in an illustrated news notice in the same month. Source: Public Domain

By John Black


Dontaskthatinchurch, 2011. ‘UFO Battle: Nuremberg 1561 (Nuernberg 1561)’. Dontaskthatinchurch Blog. Available online:

Johnson, Frank, 2012. ‘Nuremburg UFO “Battle” Debunked’, AncientAliensDebunked. Available online:



Jaaydubb's picture

People see any event through the optics of their current understanding. One has to focus solely on the details provided. There was noise. Loud enough to be considered abnormal. Something unusual enough to warrant a wood carving and publication. This was no light undertaking in the pre printed press days. There was smoke, or at least something that would have been observed and interpreted as smoke. As far as I am aware of, Aurora borealis is silent. I'm certain that if a CME was large enough, it could in fact have been seen that far south. But that would only explain the visual aspects of the story, not the auditory. And it would not explain the appearance of something interpreted as smoke. In that day and age, smoke and a loud noise would NOT have been seen as a crash, as they had no point of reference to an arial machine crashing. To us in this day and age, it's easy to us make that connection, as we have a frame of reference. At the very least, SONETHING happened that was unusual enough to believe that God was responsible. By medieval standards, it must have been a pretty big event. 

I believe, only by reading this article, not the book, that these phenomena were manifestations of Aurora borealis from a solar coronal mass ejection, as the colors red and blue are consistent with common aurora colors, and they form ribbon-like bands of colors, often mixed, and in a circular or wavy pattern that could look like wheels. Since there were no electrical devices in those times, there would have been no other electrical clues, such as those occurred during the Carrington Event when increased sun spots were recorded, followed by disruption of the telegraph system, and there were reports of auroras as far south as the Caribbean. Our understanding of auroras is only in the last century. It was, and in some places, still common to use natural phenomenon as religious signs.

Yes Zuell, that was also the first thing I thought of.

Has nobody done any research into this?

The police or military must have confiscated the wreckage. I cannot imagine they threw it all away.

Sunny Young

Zuell's picture

The discription of the event [to me] is of airborne craft in combat, yet if something had "crashed to the ground" I would think that there would be some type of collected evidence from the event?


ancient-origins's picture

I think time travel is one of the explanations that was given. It is possible, who knows!


johnblack's picture

John Black

Dr John (Ioannis) Syrigos initially began writing on Ancient Origins under the pen name John Black. He is both a co-owner and co-founder of Ancient Origins.

John is a computer & electrical engineer with a PhD in Artificial Intelligence, a... Read More

Next article