WURZBURG, GERMANY, January 13 2018.: Situated in northern Bavaria, along the shores of the Main River, the German town of Wurzburg, with its signature red-tiled rooftops, nestles about halfway between Frankfurt and Nuremberg.
Wurzburg: Gateway to the Romantic Road
Many travelers call Wurzburg the “Gateway to the Romantic Road” in Germany with its serpentine path into Bavaria that leads to typical charming villages such as Rothenburg ob der Tauber and Dinkelsbuhl among others.
As a starting point for the Romantic Road, Wurzburg is ideal, with plenty of museums, interesting architecture and enough history to whet your appetite and stir your imagination.
For example, the Wurzburg witch trials, which lasted for five years between 1626 and 1631 were one of the largest peace-time trials in history. Under Bishop Philip Adolf, some say that somewhere between 600 and 900 people were burnt as witches. Until Swedish King Gustav Adolf’s capture of the town, and the storming of the castle.
Wurzburg during World War II
In the late 1930s leading up to the Nazi’s rise to power, the Jewish community in Wurzburg was small, consisting of only about 2,000 people. However, Wurzburg was a rabbinic center and home to numerous communal organizations as well as the Jewish Teachers Seminary.
By 1941, the first Jews from Wurzburg left for the concentration camps in Eastern Europe. Two years later, 1943, the final transport began in June.
As such, because it had been such an important hub for the Jewish transports, Wurzburg the cost of war in 1945 was heavy. Ninety percent of the city was destroyed in less than 20 minutes as the result of British air raids involving 225 Lancaster bombers.
The goal of the attack was to break the spirit of the German population in the city. To that end every church, cathedral and monument was either destroyed or heavily damaged. The city center, which had thrived since the Middle Ages was also a victim, as were more than 5,000 people who died in the onslaught.
If there is one trait about Germans that everyone knows, however, it is their resilience, and, over the next two decades the people, mostly women, of Wurzburg rolled up their sleeves and painstakingly rebuilt the primary buildings of historical significance.
Dresden, in the northern part of the country, was also leveled during the war, but most of the reconstruction there was done in contemporary styles of architecture. Wurzburg’s damage was said to be even greater than that of Dresden.
The Old Main Bridge
Standing on Marienberg Hill, overlooking the town of Wurzburg today, it is difficult to imagine the city being little more than a pile of rubble even as far back as the 1940s. The River Main flows gently beneath the landmark Alte Mainbrucke (de) (Old Main Bridge) past picturesque buildings with their myriad of traditional red roofs.
Built between 1473-1543 to replace the destroyed Romanesque bridge that dated from 1133, the main attraction of the bridge today is the sculptures of 12 saints and important historical figures. Each statue stands nearly 15-feet high.
The project was built in two phases beginning in 1730. First statues were Mary and Saint Joseph, Charlemagne and Pepin the Short, King of the Franks from 751 until his death in 768.
The bridge had extensive damage from explosives at the end of World War II. In the process, American troops threw Pepin into the river to make way for an anti-aircraft gun.
Now fully restored, the Old Main Bridge is a popular crossing point from the city center to Festung Marienberg, the massive fortress guarding Wurzburg from the west of town square.
Wurzburger Residenz: A UNESCO World Heritage Site
Near the center of town is the Wurzburger Residenz. A UNESCO World Heritage Site the Residenz has been completely rebuilt since the 1945 World War II bombings.
Originally built between 1720 and 1744, several architects supervised the construction, but the name most familiar is that of Balthasar Neumann who created the famous Baroque staircase.
The compound is vast with serene landscaping around it, which gives it a warmth that is difficult to convey in a building so large.
Wurzburg beers halls, vineyards and pizza
For food and drink, Wurzburg is replete with German beer halls and pubs including the Wurzburger Stein, a vineyard on the outskirts of town which is one of Germany’s oldest and largest.
Just for fun, Wurzburg is home to the oldest pizzeria in Germany, which, believe it or not, only dates to 1952. Though Bier und Speisewirtschaft serves pizza, which is not exactly typical German cuisine, you will most assuredly enjoy your meal “for better or wurst.”
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award-winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
His goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime
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