THE RESIDENZ PALACE IS THE HIGHLIGHT ATTRACTION OF WURZBURG:
Amsterdam to Budapest River Cruise – Avalon Waterways – Day 6
With its Main River location and picturesque setting, Würzburg is a popular stop on any Rhine-Main river cruise. Würzburg is located on the banks of the Main River and the gently sloping hills that surround the town are covered by vineyards. For its beautiful setting, Würzburg has also earned itself the title of “The Pearl of the Romantic Road”.
Our morning visit of Würzburg started rather early at 8:15 a.m. Yes, some people did ask if it were really necessary to make such an early morning start – weren’t we supposed to be on holidays?
After a night of rumbling through seven locks, I wasn’t too thrilled with the early start and did some grumbling myself. But its hard to stay grumpy for long when you’re visiting such a beautiful town like Würzburg, and especially when our first port of call was the magnificent Würzburg Residenz.
Residence of the Prince-Bishops
The Würzburg Residenz is one of the most beautiful baroque palaces in Germany and that it is a UNESCO World Heritage site says it all. Würzburg experienced its most prosperous period during the rule of the art-loving prince-bishops of the Schönborn family for whom Balthasar Neumann built the palace. Its main entrance hall is large enough for a stagecoach to turn around in and the hall leads to the famous grand Baroque staircase. Unfortunately no photographs were allowed inside the building so here’s a photo from the Deutsches Bundesarchiv to give you an idea.
Our local guide Vicky was very entertaining. She gave a demonstration on how ladies, and their escorts, used to walk up the staircase in the past. We, in our jeans and track shoes, failed dismally in trying to execute an elegant walk.
The Residenz has the world’s biggest unsupported ceiling fresco, painted by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. The explanation of Tiepolo’s representations of the four continents was very interesting. We lingered for as long as we could to try and appreciate Tiepolo’s interesting portrayal of the continents as ladies: Lady Asia, Lady Africa, Lady America and Lady Europe, but we were eventually dragged away to visit the next room – the Imperial Hall.
The guided tour through the castle wings was excellent (check out the Mirror Room!), and the Würzburg Residenz gardens should not be missed. We could have easily enjoyed a whole day at the Würzburg Residenz, but we had to dash off to visit the sights in the town centre as well.
Würzburg Sightseeing Tour
After the Residenz visit, it was a quick dash to the Marktplatz (main square) and various attractions were pointed out to us. The tourist office, housed in a beautiful old baroque mansion, the
Falkenhaus, is on the square as is Marienkapelle. Just around the corner from the Marktplatz, there is a huge market.
St. Kilian is the patron saint of Würzburg, so a visit to Dom St. Kilian is worthwhile if you have the time. The huge seven-armed candelabra in the nave is eye-catching and interestingly, it looked like the Jewish menorah.
St. Kilian brought Christianity to Franconia and today there are some 40 churches in downtown Würzburg.
From the main square, we then made our way to the Alte Mainbrücke which crosses the Main River between the Old Town and Festung Marienberg (Marienberg Fortress). From this beautiful bridge, which incidentally is the oldest bridge over the Main, we enjoyed the view of the Marienberg and the busy bridge is also a great place for people-watching.
Other Wurzburg Attractions
Würzburg – A University Town
Würzburg is a university town and its main university is one of the oldest in Germany and hence its attraction for students. In fact, students make up some 20% of Würzburg’s population of 130,000.
Wurzburg’s first university was founded in 1402, but it only lasted for twenty years. Not only did it lack financial security, but it seemed that discipline was an issue as well. It was recorded that the dissolute lifestyle of the students impacted on the academic achievements of the university and also resulted in the fatal stabbing of the university’s first chancellor!
The present university was founded by Bishop Julius in 1582 and fortunately has a more successful history than the first. We were shown the faculty where Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen discovered x-rays in November 1895, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for physics in 1901. For all of us who’ve had x-rays at some points in our lives, this is where it all started.
A Convention City
Apart from being a city of students and city of administration, Würzburg is also popular as a convention city. Huge conventions are held here, but luckily during the day the convention delegates were ensconced in their meetings, so we did not notice too many of them competing with us at tourist sights. September and October are peak season for conventions which just happens to coincide with wine harvesting and the wine festivals.
Romantic Road Attraction
In addition to its popularity as a river cruise destination, Würzburg is also a stop along the famous Romantic Road route. For the number of things to see and do in Würzburg, we had too little time. We had to rush back to our boat by 12:30 p.m. as we didn’t want to be left behind when our ship sailed for Bamberg.
This afternoon we cruised past the charming Volkach and through the Franconian wine region. It was an afternoon and evening sail which took us through 14 locks!
Tonight’s entertainment was an evening of medieval music.
Photos of Würzburg: Würzburg Photo Gallery
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