Episode 358 – Baroque, Basketball, Beer, Bishops, Bosch: Bamberg!

During our morning sail to Bamberg , we were treated to an onboard demonstration of glasswork by master craftsman and 7th generation glassmaker Karl Ittig (“Kalle”) from Wertheim. Wertheim Glaskunst

Karl told us about learning his craft from his father, initially making “boring” Pyrex glassware, and eventually working alongside Dale Chihuly and teaching glass-making in both Europe and the United States. His work is unique not only for being one-of-a-kind handmade items, but for being made from Pyrex glass. Even his Christmas tree icicles are incredibly strong and shatter-resistant.

His demonstration involved a torch flame operating at up to 3500°F, which liquifies glass in 15 seconds. He joked (we hope!) that he wasn’t worried about setting off the ship’s smoke/heat alarms because he knew the manufacturer of their glass solenoids and “they’re not that good”.

Then it was off for Ted’s and my second visit to Bamberg, where our knowledgeable young guide Victoria gave us lots of extra insight into the city, including the fact that one of the major industries here is a large Bosch appliance factory.

While the city dates back to the Middle Ages, unlike Rothenburg it is not all half-timbered construction. The wealthy Prince-Bishops liked to keep up to date, so most of the city was reconstructed in the Baroque style, and even those buildings which weren’t completely changed were embellished with Baroque elements. It makes for a very beautiful place.

We were particularly impressed with the statues on the exterior of St. Martin’s

Bamberg straddles the Regnitz River (which joins the Main). The picturesque “fishermens’ quarter” is now an expensive area in which to live; once it was downriver from the slaughterhouse, as well as being prone to flooding – not a prestige address in the Middle Ages.

The inn signs are typical of the Middle Ages, and similar to those we saw in Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

It may seem that each of these picturesque towns are much the same, but they’re really not. first of all, Bamberg has a “Gabelmann” (“fork man”) fountain – the locals’ irreverent moniker for Neptune.

Also, Bamberg has the distinction of having won basketball’s German Championship title nine times and the German Cup five times after the sport became popular during the many years that there was a U.S. military base here. The fans are so enthusiastic that the arena is referred to as “Franconian Hell”.

Bamberg is also notable for having the highest concentration of breweries per square kilometre in the world. in an area of Germany noted for its wine production, that’s especially significant. Bamberg’s signature beer is “Rauchbier” (smoked beer), which has a distinctively bacony taste. We tried it on our last visit, so didn’t feel the need to do it again; it’s okay, but probably best drunk with food. Attesting to its popularity, though, are the crowds of local folks drinking it in the streets.

The Bamberg city hall (Rathaus) is a work of art.

We were interested to see that commemorative plaques on the city hall recognize both the evils of the second world war and the German losses. It’s easy in North America to forget that German families lost hundreds of thousands of fathers, brothers, and sons too.

Left: to the memory of the Jewish townspeople and all those who during the time of the Nazi tyranny suffered, were ignored, pursued, and killed. Right: in the world war 1939-1945, 1992 loyal soldiers from Bamberg fell on the European and African fronts. Through bombing 242 men, women and children gave their lives. 1642 brothers and sisters remained unaccounted for.

Looming over the city is the Church of Saints Peter and George, and the residences of the Prince Bishops. The church’s foundation is Romanesque, its upper towers Gothic, the attached residence Renaissance and Baroque. What a great place to compare architectural styles.

Second from top: a model pf the church, palace, and courtyards.

As is the case for many Gothic churches , the exit doors depict judgement day. The figures on the left are going to heaven; those on the right are going to hell, even though there are kings and clerics among them. It was strange to see smiles on the hell-bound, but it was explained that during the middle ages an open-mouthed smile was considered a sign of madness.

Our guide pointed out elements of the 12th and 13th century architecture that encouraged and reinforced the prejudice against the Jewish citizenry. On the right side of the church entrance is a female figure representing Judaism, blindfolded because she cannot see Christ as the son of God, with a broken staff in one hand and the 10 commandments dropping from her other. Victoria reminded us that historically Jews were prohibited from joining trade guilds, and Christians prohibited from lending money – and yet Jews were resented if their money lending professions made them rich. The Prince Bishops who borrowed money and then didn’t want to pay it back were particularly instrumental in perpetuating negative stereotypes about Jews.

We were only able to pop into the cathedral briefly because there was a mass scheduled, but Ted did manage to get a few pictures. The interior remains Romanesque, which means it is not as ornate as many other churches we’ve visited.

Top: The famous marble horsemen in the cathedral could be a Hungarian Prince who married one of the Prince-Bishop’s daughters, but no one really knows. Bottom: The marble tomb of Holy Roman Emperor King Henry II and his wife the Empress Kunigunde of Luxumbourg dates to the turn of the 16th century, although the royals buried in it died in the 11th century. They are the only married couple to have both been canonized.

One of the ornate carved triptych altars in the church, and the pipe organ. Saturday evening mass was about to begin, so we had to leave before taking any more photos.

Views of the palace complex courtyard.

Over 60 varieties of roses grow in the palace complex rose garden,

The view over Bamberg from the palace hill.

It was dark (5:30) as we stopped for a quick cappuccino and glühwein before boarding the bus back to our ship.

Off to bed. Tomorrow we visit Nuremberg and transfer to our new ship, the Viking Baldur.


  1. Nice summary! Wish I could remember half of what you do. Such a benefit to be in same tour to find out what I missed! You might want to mention that the German Cup is in the sport of basketball.



    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Rose, what are these things sticking out over the water?

    Well, it looks like you are back in your Happy-Place with Viking! My, they are looking after you well…

    It also looks like its getting cold, judging from all the down jackets and vests in the photos; here too, suddenly. We have been so spoiled her in the east by a particularly warm and lengthy fall – even realizing that, the sudden change to freezing overnight is hard to bear… Cathy and I picked up our ski rental equipment this morning; can hardly wait!

    Happy Sunday, my friend. Hugs… B.


    Sent from Mailhttps://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=550986 for Windows 10


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s