Episode 92 – Postcards from Würzburg

NOTE: These travel pictures are from travels prior to us becoming nomadic in 2018. Like most of the world, we are staying put right now until the threat from COVID19 is either over or preventable via a vaccine.

One of my favourite stops on our river cruise in 2013 was Würzburg, a city that was firebombed in WWII but has been completely rebuilt. The 1945 bombing by the British destroyed 90% of the city centre, but the reconstruction is so faithful to the original that you would never suspect, so our walking tour truly felt like touching much older history than the actual age of the buildings represents. (Of course, things like tombs, and interior artwork, are not reconstructions, since they survived being buried under rubble.)

(Above) The Residenz, or Prince-Bishops Palace, built between 1720 and 1740, and completely restored after its 1945 damage. The Residenz’ sheer size is truly daunting, and especially imposing because it is located right in the centre of the city where you walk by within metres of the entrance. You can find professional panoramic shots on the internet, but these are taken up close, where you cannot possibly shoot the entire palace in one frame.

Translation: This house, known as Neulobdenburg Court, once the Canon Court and for many years owned by the barons of Würzburg, did Claus Holler after its total destruction on the 16th of March 1945 have rebuilt and in 1955 redecorated. You can see from the shield above the door that the original structure was built in 1730.

Photography was not allowed inside the Residenz, but I will never forget the fantastically ornate 3-dimensional frescoes. The Residenz contains what is purportedly the largest fresco in the world, along with incredible Rococo stucco-work, Baroque staircases, more gold decor than you can imagine, and hundreds of crystal chandeliers. Some of what looks like molded plaster is actually papier-mâché (!), like the legs of the painted figures dangling over the edges of the corniced ceilings and angels’ wings opening out away from the ceiling. It was truly breath-taking.

(above) The Festung Marienberg (Marienberg Fortress) overlooks the river and the city, as it has since 1201 AD. Sadly, our single day in Würzburg did not afford us enough time to climb up and tour the fortress. Next time!

The stunning red and white 14th century Marienkapelle (Mary’s Chapel). Like most churches we saw in Germany and Austria, there is a market set up around it.

Churches are the repositories of history in Germany, which is why we tour so many of them. In Würzburg we saw crypts dating back to the 1400’s, some of which depicted scenes that appeared to be right out of the Crusades.

(above) The towers of St. Kilian’s Dom (Cathedral) … and (below) the quite creepy doorways to a side chapel of the Dom, where death always appears to be watching. The figures looked more like something out of Pirates of the Caribbean than religious iconography.

The Alte Mainbrücke (Old Bridge over the Main), built in the early 1500’s and repaired after WWII. The bridge is on the foundations of a Romanesque bridge dating from 1133AD, and is now a pedestrian and bicycle-only bridge. A total of 12 life sized statues of saints were added in the 1700’s.

What a treat to sit at a table under the bridge, drinking German beer, and soaking in the scenery…and what an incentive to return!

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