Wűrtzburg Residence

Wűrtzburg Residence

Our ship docked in front of the Wűrtzburg Old Bridge, erected in 1473, and beneath the Marienberg Fortress, one of the Prince Bishop’s homes for nearly five centuries. The pilgrimage church Käppele sits about halfway up a nearby hillside. Our tour took us to the Prince Bishop’s other home, the Wűrtzburg Residence, a vast baroque palace with wonderful gardens. The Residence was built in the 18th century by an international team of architects, painters, sculptures, and stucco-workers. Giovanni Battista Tiepolo created the world’s largest fresco which adorns the vault over the impressive staircase. Our guide explained how each of the four walls represented a continent of the known world. The White Hall in Neoclassical style, completed in only nine months, is dominated by stucco decorations. The walls of the Imperial Hall consist of stucco work marble which was more costly than actual marble. Unfortunately, no photography is allowed. The Wűrtzburg Residence and its Court Gardens were recognized in 1981 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as the most homogeneous and extraordinary of the Baroque palaces.

Rothenburg City Gate

Rothenburg City Gate

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, the “Red Fortress above the Tauber,” is well known for its well-preserved medieval town. We experienced massive stone town walls studded with 42 towers, half-timbered houses with red-tiled roofs; cobblestone streets and flower-filled window boxes. We sampled about a dozen different sausages and tasted a bit of a schneeball, a snowball pastry in a round, ball-like shape. Käthe Wollfahrt’s ChristmasVillage has many interesting Christmas items for sale. The Master Builder’s house features seven virtues and seven vices. The Castle Garden offers a view of the old town and the Tauber Valley. There is a pogrom memorial stone for the Jews amidst a half-circle of flowers in the garden. During the 1930s Rothenburg was hailed as “the most German of German towns” and in October 1938 it expelled its Jewish citizens. In my opinion, this was a low point in its history. The city was saved as a result of an offer by the Americans not to bomb the city if they would surrender. Fortunately, the local military commander ignored the Fuhrer’s order to fight to the end. I climbed stairs to the city wall and walked from one tower to another. Young people participated in a half marathon on the day of our visit. The construction of St. Jacob’s Church began in 1311. We didn’t visit the Medieval Crime Museum, but I did try out the stocks. Our tour group met for departure on the steps of the Town Hall, a notable Renaissance-style building dating from 1250. We left at 4 p.m. after the doors opened but the figures did not emerge as advertised from the astronomical clock on the City Councilor’s Tavern. Another great day!

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