After touring Rothenburg, and a lovely lunch of typical Bavarian foods (potato soup, bratwurst, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, and apple strudel, all accompanied by the local Franconian Silvaner wine) we returned to the centre of Würzburg: a city built on the site of a Bronze Age castle, a Celtic settlement, and a Roman fort; Christianized in the 7th century, and now the capital of Germany’s Franconia province. There are multiple layers of history right out in the open here, including a Roman bridge.
To say that Würzburg was heavily damaged during WWII is an understatement. On 16 March 1945, about 90% of the city was destroyed in 17 MINUTES by firebombing from 225 British Lancaster bombers during an Allied air raid. The historic elements of the city, including the palace, were rebuilt and restored over the 20 post-war years. It is the restored Bishops’ Residenz Palace that Ted and I revisited this afternoon.
One thing has not changed: absolutely no photography, liquids, or large purses are allowed inside the palace. The latter two relate to damage done to fragile artwork in the past; purses, etc are placed in lockers before entry is granted. Ted had to be contented with exteriors shots.
“No photography” means that our memories will have to suffice (or you can look up the palace on Wikipedia to see some of the magnificent interiors). In 2013, this palace was our very first experience of Baroque/Rococo architecture, and I still remember how awed I was by the ceiling frescoes with their 3-dimensional embellishments that extended onto the walls, the gorgeous chandeliers produced in Würzburg in the mid 1700’s, and the “mirror room” with its back-painted mirrors covering the walls and ceilings, embellished with 2.5 kg (5.5 pounds) of gold.
The absolutely stunningly gorgeous ceiling fresco in the staircase of the Würzburg Residence, painted by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, is the largest fresco in the world, and that in a nutshell tells the story of the wealth of the Prince-Bishops, who were both the political and religious leaders of their time (no separation of church and state was even considered).
The colours of the rooms (tourists are only able to enter a tiny fraction of the almost 400 rooms spread over the 3 wings of the palace) are as spectacular as I remembered: sunny yellow, crimson red, green and blue – often with glass components in the crystal chandeliers that matched wall colours or tapestry elements.
It was dusk by the time we returned to the Magni, docked very near the old bridge, and the cool air hitting the warmer river water was quickly creating fog cover like that to which we’d woken.
It really was another lovely day.
Just before dinner, we were given the news that the Main river between Bamburg and Nuremberg is too shallow to traverse, so the day after tomorrow we’ll be transferred to one of Viking’s sister ships (and their passengers to ours) to continue our journey beyond the shallow areas. It’s been a historically dry year in Europe! So this does not come as a complete surprise, although we’d hoped for higher water levels by November. We know Viking will make the transition as smooth as possible; they’ve dealt with both high (boats can’t pass under bridges) and low (boats can’t float!) river levels before. While it’s no fun re-packing our suitcases midway through our cruise, as Ted would say: “Look at where we are!”
Aw, that’s too bad. On our trip from Budapest to Amsterdam in October, we thought we were making the ultimate sacrifice to help all future GE cruisers by switching ships for no other reason than to help Viking get its ships back where they were supposed to be and paired up correctly. We had three days on the Mir before being transferred during our stay in Vienna where we were rafted with our “real” ship, the Gefjon. Our cruise director, Tessa, stayed with us. I’m sorry it didn’t end up being the ultimate. We never had to really leave the water, though a 17 hour delay when a lock got stuck, requiring scuba divers to repair, meant quite a bit of schedule shuffling and one long bus ride (which I really enjoyed because the color in the vineyards was spectacular.) Viking handled it well, but we aren’t sure we will ever try another river cruise.
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Scuba divers?! Now THAT would have been worth seeing!
We’ve definitely not given up on Viking river cruises, but they no longer hold the cachet they once did now that their fleet is so large.
On our river cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest, because the water was low, we changed ships not once but twice. The ships were identical, we even had the same rooms. Viking commissioned a local vessel to transport us to areas not accessible. Viking is used to these transfers but do them well. Happy travels.Pat
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Thank you for helping to ease our minds!
Yes, indeed, “look at where you are”! A small inconvenience for such pleasure. I admit to a bit of a chuckle, though, at your mention of one of the clock towers. (“The city walls boast 42 towers, several of which have clocks.”) Having just done the daylight savings thing, I have to wonder if they all got changed, and if all 45 read the same time. Me? I’d always be looking for the one that was always 5 minutes behind! LOL!
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