The Bishop's Residenz, Wurzburg
This morning's city tour of Würzburg leaves quite early at 8:15 a.m. After a night of rumbling through 7 locks, Helen wasn't pleased with the early start and did some grumbling herself.
Würzburg is set in a picturesque position on the banks of the Main river. 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 1403, but it only existed for a few
years - our local guide told us how students killed the Director! The present university was founded by Bishop Julius in 1582 and fortunately has a more successful history than the first. You'll be 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.
Apart from being a city of students and city of administration, Würzburg is also popular as a convention city. They host huge conventions here, but during the day the conventioneers are ensconced in their meetings, so you probably won't notice too many of them. September and October are peak season for conventions which just happens to coincide with wine harvesting and the wine festivals...
In the gardens of the
Bishop's Rezidenz, Wurzburg
There is a lot to see in this town and the facilities are good. On the guided tour, you'll be taken through the Residenz, one of the most beautiful baroque palaces and a UNESCO World Heritage site, but unfortunately you are not allowed to take photos inside the building.
Würzburg experienced its most properous period during the rule of art-loving bishops of the Schonborn family for whom Balthasar Neumann built the palace. Its main entrance hall is large enough for a stagecoach to turn around in and this in turn leads to a famous grand Baroque staircase.
Our local guide Vicky was great. She gave instructions on how ladies, and their escorts, used to walk up the staircase in the past. We, in our jeans and trackshoes, failed dismally in trying to look as elegant.
The Residenz has the world’s biggest unsupported ceiling fresco, painted by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. Vicky's explanation of Tiepolo's representations of the four continents was fascinating. I wish we had more time to absorb his interesting portrayal of the continents as ladies: Lady Asia, Lady Africa, Lady America and Lady Europe. Alas not, and we were yanked away to visit the Imperial Hall.
The guided tour through the castle wings was excellent (check out the Mirror Room!), and the gardens are not to be missed. If you had time on your own, you could easily spend a whole day here, but we had to dash off to visit the sights in town as well.
St. Kilian is the Patron saint of Würzburg, so a visit to Dom St. Kilian (St Kilian Cathedral) is worthwhile. St. Kilian brought Christianity to Franconia and today there are some 40 churches in downtown Würzburg. 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 had our view of the Marienberg.
For the amount of things to see and do in Würzburg, we had too little time but we had to rush back as gates were closing at 12:30 p.m. for our sail to Bamberg. It's an afternoon and evening sail, this time passing through 14 locks!