When planning my trip for a few days around the Nuremberg area in Franconia, Germany, a picture of the Imperial Hall in New Residence of Bamberg caught my eye. As I knew almost nothing about Bamberg before, that awesome shot served as a reason to include this medieval town in my itinerary. Now I know that the town of Bamberg in Franconia is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site mainly because of its authentic medieval appearance. Bamberg was first mentioned in documents in 902 and the slogan "Gift of a Millennium" points out that the city was able to preserve its appearance through many centuries.
Bamberg, like Rome, is built on seven hills and was chosen by Holy Roman Emperor Henry II as the capital of his empire. It is one of not so many towns in Germany practically untouched by WW2 bombing, so it managed to save its really genuine feel. There are also stunning palaces and castles near Bamberg worth visiting so it seems that I will have to go back at a later point to see it all. But this time I just had a day for my visit before going to Wurzburg for my overnight stay so here is what I managed to see in one day in this awesome town for your travel inspiration.
Admire the Old Townhall
As you approach the old town of Bamberg, the superb Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus) located in the middle of the Upper bridge is the first thing that will get your attention. While the town hall has been here from the end of the 14th century, the existing structure was rebuilt in the middle of the 18th century. It's a stunning piece of architecture, in particular, due to the lovely frescoes adorning its facades, and depicting the tale of how the building came to be built on the island.Inside, highlights include the beautiful old Rococo hall and the Ludwig Collection of more than 300 exquisite 18th-century animal-shaped tureens, figurines, and dinner services made of porcelain.
Address: Altes Rathaus, Obere Brücke 1
Take a Bamberger Bahn Tour
It’s best to start your journey from Cathedral Square where the tour starts and ends to make sure you get a place. The ticket price is 9 euros with live German commentary not very helpful for an English speaker but very helpful for all travellers with no car to reach Altenburg castle because there is no public transport to that place. The tour also makes a few other stops besides the Altenburg castle in the town but as I noticed nobody used the opportunity to get out somewhere else. Generally speaking, your ticket is a day pass. Practically there is just one bus an hour, which seems to be too much waiting time for the next bus at most stops. Maybe the solution is to walk to the next stop yourself. The bus might be quite crowded, so I am not sure how this works if you are waiting at the stop in town and the bus is full. I witnessed that on the day of my visit afternoon tours were sold out so I was happy to have had a morning one.
Make sure you visit Altenburg castle
The romantic castle is perched on the highest of the seven Bamberg hills and has a superb view of the city. It was first documented in 1109 and rebuilt at the end of the16th century. If you came to Bamberg like me by train and you don’t have a car, visiting Altenburg castle might be a bit of a challenge because it’s located uphill outside Bamberg, so choose one of the two options to get there: the first is to walk, which could take about an hour one way, the other is to go with the nostalgic Bamberger Bahn tour, inspired by the historical Bamberg streetcars. The bus makes a 15 minute stop there, which is enough for a brief look around.If you want to have a meal there, you can stay until the next bus.
Attend a half an hour organ concert at the Cathedral
For this, you have to be as lucky as me to be visiting Bamberg on a Saturday when concerts take place at noon. During the organ concerts, the Cathedral is open for concert visitors only. On other days you can just enjoy walking around the Cathedral. The Bamberg Cathedral is a late Romanesque building with four imposing towers. It was founded by Emperor Henry II and finished in the early 11th century.The cathedral is about 94 meters long, 28 meters wide, and 26 meters high, and the four towers are each about 80 meters high. Admire the magnificent marble tomb of the founder of the cathedral and his wife, the Empress Cunigunde, carved in the early 16th century. Another treasure of the cathedral worth seeing is the Bamberg Horseman statue (Bamberger Reiter). For hundreds of years, people have been trying to guess who this knight on horseback really was. It is now thought that he was probably the 11th century Hungarian king Stephen I.
Admire the Rose garden of the New residence
The Rose garden in the yard of the New Residence located at the Cathedral Square is nice by itself with roses and sculptures. The garden is divided up by two paths with a round fountain in the centre. It is bordered by lime trees and a garden pavilion from the middle of the 18th century. The garden has about 4,500 roses of beautiful fragrance and colour. You also have an opportunity to admire views of the old town and have a quick meal there if you are hungry.
Visit the New Residence
Until 1802, the New Residence served as the seat of Bamberg's prince bishops who had the spiritual and administrative rule of the region.Now the New Residence accommodates the State Gallery with a valuable collection of old German and baroque paintings.The most significant work of art is Hans Baldung Grien's "The Deluge" (1516).You can also admire paintings by Hans von Kulm Bach, Lucas Cranach the Elder, and Flemish and Dutch still-life and landscape paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries.The residence has more than 40 magnificent rooms in two apartments decorated with stucco ceilings, furniture, and rugs from the 17th and 18th centuries.The imperial hall painted by Melchior Steidl is stunning. During my visit, it was under restoration but not less beautiful because of that. From the windows of the hall, you have an awesome view of the rose garden and the town itself.To visit the apartments of the Bishop you have to join a tour. The tour language depends on the participants of the tour. I was quite lucky because I was the only one on the tour so I had it in English.
Soak in the views of the Little Venice
The former fishermen's district on the Regnitz river bank is known as Little Venice. It is characterised by half-timbered buildings from the middle Ages with tiny, pretty gardens. It creates a quaint and picturesque scene, with boats floating near the gardens. The best way to see it is from the other side of the river walking down from the Cathedral Square until you reach the river.If you have more time, you can take a river cruise bringing you directly past this unique line of houses.
Bamberg is about 40 minutes by train from Nuremberg and almost 2 hours from Munich. No tourist information is available at the railway station so you have to find your way to the information center in the town. There are some luggage lockers located on the platform at the building of the station on the right hand side of the arrivals entrance. If you arrive in the morning, hopefully, you will have some space left for your belongings.The old town is about 15 minutes on foot from the railway station. It is worth considering an overnight stay in Bamberg to get more of this splendid town and also renting a car for visiting places nearby like Seehof Palace, the summer residence of the Bamberg Prince-Bishops.
What did you think? Have you been to Bamberg? Or perhaps you’re thinking of visiting there in the near future? Either way, I’d love to hear from you so please add your comments below.
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