Würzburg: Germany’s Doorway to Bavaria
You can’t help but love Würzburg, Germany; I certainly do. It’s a small town that is steeped in history and culture that happily sits on the banks of the Main River in northern Bavaria. Wurzburg is easily accessed by train from Frankfurt or Nuremburg, and is generally the first stop on the Romantic Road journey through Bavaria. Visitors can easily spend at least two days discovering its many charms. This 1300-year-old city offers museums, cultural and historic sights, an internationally renowned university and ample lodging, restaurants and wine tasting venues. Although nearly destroyed in World War II, Wurzburg has rebuilt itself to its former glory.
Must-See Sights in Würzburg
Set atop a hill and surrounded by vineyards and hiking trails, the Marienburg Fortress offers stunning views of the lower town of Würzburg. It was once a Celtic stronghold, but in 1253 became home to the Prince Bishops of Bavaria. You will want to tour the castle, and visit its Fürstenbau museum.
The “Fürstenbau” – Museum
The restored “Fürstenbau” (Prince Bishops residence) of the Fortress “Marienberg” houses not only the renovated living quarters, but also the city history department of the “Mainfränkisches Museum”. Be sure to view the gold jewelry collection and liturgical vestments. Of special interest are two models of the city: Würzburg in 1525 and Würzburg in 1945.
The Residenz of the Prince Bishops
When the Prince Bishops decided to live among the people, they built the over-the-top Rococo palace, now called The Residenz, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We were thoroughly mesmerized by the gilt, the ornate mirrors, the flamboyant frescoes and tapestries of the Residenz. The works of famous artists such as Tilman Riemenschneider, Balthasar Neumann and Giovanni Battista Tiepolo can also be seen inside. And unbelievably, much of the Residenz has been restored from the ravages of war.
St Kilian’s Cathedral
Construction of this cathedral, an exquisite example of German Architecture, began in 788 and was completed in 1188. It is the fourth largest Romanesque church in Germany and was initially consecrated in the presence of Charlemagne and re-consecrated in 1967. The cathedral was heavily damaged by fire in 1945, but as with other historical buildings in Würzburg, it was rebuilt and fully restored by 1989.
The Old Main Bridge
Built in 1133 and rebuilt in 1553, this bridge reminds us of the Charles Bridge in Prague. With six huge statues of saints displayed in niches on each side of the thoroughfare, this pedestrian/bike bridge is memorable for its beauty.
The only surviving Romanesque secular building in Würzburg, Wenceslaus Hall, inside the tower of the Town Hall, dates to the 13th century. Be sure to go to the top floor to view the detailed model of Würzburg in ruins after the bombing in 1945. It is a grim reminder of the horrors of war.
Shops and cafes surround Market Square, “the heart of Würzburg”. In winter, it is here where you will find the city’s famous Christmas Market. Be sure to look for the House of the Falcon, a rococo-styled, patrician house facing the square. In contrast, St. Mary’s Chapel, a gothic church, stands out in this Rococo town.
Built in 1576, the Juliuspital was one of the first large-scale charitable institutions in Germany. The hospital is still in use and is supported by its 163-hectare vineyard and wine production operation. We had a wonderful tour of the grounds including the Rococo pharmacy followed by a wine tasting. The restaurant is an authentic weinstube and the Franconian regional food served therein is delicious.
Where to Stay in Würzburg
Novotel Wuerzburg 4-star
We stayed at this modern hotel located just blocks from the Residenz and walking distance to the city center. We were impressed by the friendly and efficient staff and were completely comfortable in the spacious rooms. We recommend it!
Hotel Wurzburger Hof 3-Star
Located near the train station and the popular Juliuspital, this hotel is charming and cozy. All rooms are individually decorated and equipped with bath/shower, cable-TV, minibar and telephone.
Where to Eat in Würzburg
The Old Main Mill Restaurant (Alte Mainmuhle)
We had a delicious lunch here, enjoying many of the Franconian specialties of the house. From sausages to gourmet cuisine, you are assured a delicious meal at Alte Mainmuhle.
Dinner at the Wienstuben Juliuspital was a real treat. We enjoyed the specialty wines as well as a tasty, traditional schnitzel dinner.
I highly recommend visiting Würzburg, a Bavarian city that has restored and reinvented itself to prosper in modern Germany while embracing its memorable place in history. There is a lot to see and experience, and the people of Wurzburg will make you feel right at home!
Written by Terri Fogarty for EuropeUpClose.com