During your tour, take time to experience the Markt and the Domstrasse.
This is the most direct way to get to the Old Main Bridge (the Altes Mainbrücke
) for a scenic view of the Fortress Marienberg.
It i also,
takes you through a vital pedestrian zone filled with shops, good restaurants and is a very
pleasant place to stop, have a meal and watch the town’s residents go about
their daily business.
The city has a long history with precursor settlements dating back several
centuries before the birth of Christ. In the 7th Century (AD), the Irish
missionaries converted the town’s residents to Christianity. Unfortunately,
a duke of Franconia murdered Saint Kilian and two other missionaries (their
statues can be found on the Old Main Bridge).
town has been associated with Charlemagne, Frederick Barbarossa and was the
home of the Prince-Bishops of Wurzburg and the famed woodcarver Tilman Riemenscheneider. The town suffered defeat
in the Thirty Years War and was conquered by King Gustav of Sweden. In 2004,
Wurzburg celebrated the 1300th anniversary of its founding.
It is a tribute to the dedication and perseverance of Wurzburg’s citizens
that there are any attractions for the visitor to see. Late in 1945,
as World War II raced to an end, the city was fire-bombed and in
twenty-minutes the air raid destroyed most of the city’s buildings,
including the Residenz and the Dom. Unfortunately, their damaged exterior shells were all that remained standing of
these once majestic monuments. Over the next half-century the city was rebuilt, the
masterpieces restored and historic Wurzburg once more became a beautiful and
interesting place to visit.
The best places to visit in Wurzburg are the Residenz and the Fortress Marienberg. If you have time, you might want to take a peek at the towns’
interesting collection of churches, specifically the Käpelle (an 18th
century Baroque chapel near the River Main designed by Balthasar Neumann -
on the same side of the river as the Fortress),
as well as the Dom (the city’s soaring cathedral), the Neumünster-Kirche and
the MarienKapelle. These churches offer interesting architecture and each
contains several beautiful pieces, many the work of the hometown artist Tilman Riemenscheider. The churches are all in close proximity, but if you
are pressed for time, skip the others and take in the Marienkapelle.
Most visitors to Wurzburg
come to see the Residenz, an
architectural and design masterpiece that is one of the important Baroque
palaces of Europe. Officially titled the Residenz of the Wurzburg
Prince-Bishops, this monumental palace was constructed during a twenty-four
year period dating from the laying of its foundation stone in 1720.
the relatively short construction period, the building has a unified design,
mainly influenced by Balthasar Neumann, which has not been significantly altered
since it was constructed. Although the majority of the building was destroyed
in a 1945 air
raid, most of the furniture, art, and collectibles has been removed from the
building and placed in secure storage during the War. The Residenz
was slowly restored to its former glory and today it is one of the finest palaces
Built by and for the Prince-Bishops of Franconia, the Residenz shows the
unfettered devotion that the royalty had for creating a milieu for
themselves that was based on the best that money could buy. The building is
constructed in a grand style, but the beauty of its interior and its
extravagant Rococo decoration is even more stunning.
The ticket office is to your right as you enter the Residenz. Be sure to get an audio tour guide when you arrive to help you understand
the amazing variety of objects that you will see. Plan on spending at
least two hours at the Residenz as it is one of the grand treasures of Germany.
Since photography of the interior is not allowed, consider buying
the official guidebook at the entrance kiosk, as it is worth every penny (or
Start your tour in the bright, Garden Hall (Gartensaal), a room that mirrors
in miniature, the dimensions of the vestibule outside. The Garden Hall
is delightful, in part because of the amazing ceiling frescos and in part
because of the closure given the room by the ring of columns around its
edge. Take in the beauty of this room and then head to the second
floor where an amazing collection of treasures awaits you.
The majority of the first floor consists of a cavernous vestibule that
you must cross to ascend to the second floor. Attached to the north
side of the Vestibule is a
marvelous staircase by Treppenahus that is one of the glories of the
Residenz. In addition to the geometric precision and beauty of
its design, the staircase is
capped with a large vault that you will notice only after beginning your
ascent of the stairs. In turn, the vault is covered with a painting by Giovanni Tiepolo that
is reputed to be the largest fresco ever created. The fresco is a
masterful work and complex enough to require several minutes of study to
notice all of the images and themes that it contains.
On the second floor, you will enter the White Hall with its masterful stuccowork
(all white, of course), proceed through the regal Imperial Hall (Kaisersaal)
and then to the Northern Imperial Apartments and the State Gallery. The
Northern Imperial Apartments are filled with treasures (mainly Rococo) too
numerous describe. Ostentatious, beautiful, outrageous and divine are some
of the word that come to mind when you explore these elegant rooms. Much,
but not all, of the original and reconstructed decorative work in these rooms was by local craftsmen.
The Audience Room, Green Room, Bedrooms and Guest Rooms are lavishly
decorated and include numerous items that will attract your attention.
At the end of this wing, you will find the Green Lacquered Room (late
Wurzburg Rococo) that is as outstanding as its color scheme is unexpected.
From the Imperial apartment, you will proceed to the State Galleries,
which include masterpieces by Venetian artists and those of others whose works were related, dating from the 17th
and 18th centuries.
After this, you will encounter the Ingleheim Rooms, a block of 10 rooms that
were the last decorated in the Residenz. They are known as the Sensenheim
rooms and t they were decorated for that era. These roomshave become noted
as fine examples of early neoclassical design in Germany.
Although there is much to see here, it is likely by this time that you will
have a “design” overload. Except for the Princes Hall, these are the last
rooms on your tour. When finished, head for the Court Chapel (Hofkirche -
see photo at the top of this page).
You will have to use the main exit and then enter the Chapel, which is at
the southwest corner of the Residenz. The Chapel is small but visually
stunning. Its architecture is balanced in a manner that makes its rich and
extravagant decorations appear integral to its message. The Chapel a
glorious sight and photography is allowed, so do your best to capture the
amazing elegance of the Hofkirche.
After all that time inside, head for the Court Gardens (Hoftgarten). The
Residenz is an urban palace and development of the gardens was restricted by
available space, but the gardens may be even more beautiful because of this
restriction. The views of the Residenz from the elevated Promenade behind
the East Garden are stunning. If you are rushed for time, skip the gardens,
but know that you are missing a real treat especially in spring and summer.
Open year round, with shorter hours in autumn and winter. The Southern
Apartments and Mirror Cabinet can be seen only by participating in guided
tours, which are provided twice a day. See the
official website of the Residenz for details on time and the price of admission.
Parking at the Residenz.
It seems like parking in German towns often adds a new twist. The lot at the
Residenz, which is actually the square fronting the Residenz, is automated. After entering through the automated gate, park your car and look for the
ticket dispensers that are at the west end of the square. You goal is to get
the machine to dispense a parking ticket, but you should pay no money, at
this point, for the privilege. Instead, the ticket merely stamps
the time of your
Next, take the ticket back to your car and place it in a visible
location on the dashboard before entering the Residenz to show that you are
parked legally. Retrieve the ticket from your car when you are ready to
leave the lot and take it back to the machine. When you insert it, the
display will tell you how much you owe. Insert the required fee, and your
newly validated ticket will be returned. You must insert this ticket in the slot in the
automated gate to raise the arm and exit the parking area.
There is much
more to see in Wurzburg. The Festung (Fortress Marienberg) is worthy of a visit and the city offers several
additional interesting attractions. as well. Click
here to continue your exploration of Wurzburg.
Next - The Festung Marienberg and other Wurzburg attractions
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