The final stop of our European tour was the beautiful city of Würzburg, set between vineyard bearing hills, and on the shores of the River Main. Known for its art, architecture and of course, its delicate wines, Würzburg is a popular destination in Germany and attracts visitors both young and old. Not only does the city offer a wealth of historical sights from the Residenz, regarded as one of the finest palaces in Europe and a high point of Baroque art, and one of the oldest churches in Germany along with the famous Festung Marienberg, but there is also a lively nightlife scene, which brings the city’s cobbled streets alive at night. Having spent two weeks in Würzburg on a German Exchange back in 2006, I was interested to return and revisit!
The route followed by our ICE (Inter City Express) train took us through lower Saxony, Thuringia, Hesse and into northern Bavaria, where we had to change in Fulda. After a short delay in Fulda we arrived in Würzburg at about a quarter to two, and walked up through the town to our hotel, Stadt Mainz, in Semmelstrasse. The pink and white exterior hinted at history, and the restaurant/ bar area revealed a rustic touch, but it being a Monday the hotel was effectively closed, which as we were getting peckish was a big shame.
By 3 o’clock, the intrepid explorers were ready to face all the city had to offer, the hot sun and the crowds, so off we went in search of the Residenz. The first place, worthy of attention was the Bürgerspital-Weinstuben on Theaterstr., with its open courtyard, with arcades, inviting any passerby to step inside and sample the wine and local, Franconian cuisine. The second, was, in fact, the Residenz itself; a UNESCO world heritage site, this magnificent baroque palace, confronts the visitor with a real statement of the importance of the prince-bishops of earlier times. To the side and the rear, we found the Court Garden, with water basin encircled by yew trees, and terraces decorated with cherubs, a place of serenity and pools of shade.
Leaving the Residenz behind, we strolled down Hofstrasse towards the cathedral (of St Kilian) and then through to Domstrasse where we able to take in fully the western frontage, topped by two narrow towers perfectly fitting into its surroundings. Not far away on Kürschnerhof, and still part of the Kilian’s complex, stood the Neumünster, with its extravagant baroque façade, in shades of pink and white.
Continuing our exploration of the city we soon found ourselves in Oberer Markt or Upper Market Square where, before us were the Falkenhaus, with its ornate stucco façade (now housing the Tourist Information Office) and eastern end of the Marienkapelle, a late Gothic church on the far side.
Passing from the Upper to the Lower Market Square we managed a closer view of this magnificent church and then found ourselves in a space with a real mix of architectural styles, from late Gothic to modern and complete with bustling market stalls. To our left as we entered the square, and looking slightly out of place, was an obelisk, said to mark the centre of the lower market square, and what looked like a maypole, decorated with small figurines and assorted coats-of-arms.
Crossing the square and, feeling it was time to feed our complaining stomachs, we made our way to the Ratskeller for a welcome sit-down and a good Bavarian meal.
It was good to sit in the shade of this small courtyard with its fish pond and assorted plants and greenery, and soak up the atmosphere of the surroundings, but before long we were back out in the sunshine and strolling across the Alte Mainbrücke, lined on either side with saintly statues.
On the opposite side of the river we could see, in the foreground, the Hofspitalkirche ‘Spitäle’ and high above us Fortress Marienberg, which dominated the city and sat majestically atop the surrounding hills. On the map, we could see what appeared to be a pleasant route to the top of the hill, starting at St Burkard’s Church, the second oldest church in the city, dating back to 1168, so off we went. Finding the path, at the beginning of the climb, proved rather difficult, it being hidden behind the local kindergarten, but we were soon strolling along the slopes of the fortress hill, in amongst row after row of vines. A very pleasant walk in the early evening, but having been informed that the fortress complex was closed, we turned back, having reached the end of the first terrace. A bit of a shame, but after a busy day, a sensible decision! (There was a bonus, however, and that was an opportunity to capture an image or two of the attractive Käppele with its double-towered front and onion-shaped cupolas; a pilgrimage church, still popular today, especially at Pentecost.)
After all the exercise, it was decided that we should all be rewarded with an ice-cream so having re-crossed the Mainbrücke, all eyes were peeled for a suitable spot to indulge. We did not have to go far as just on our right, on the corner of Beim Grafeneckart, was Eiscafe-Restaurant Fontana, an ice-cream lover’s piece of heaven. Not only was the café/ restaurant offering a wonderful selection of ice-creams and sorbets, but its position was also ideal for people-watching, absorbing the atmosphere of this part of the town, with the Grafeneckart and Town Hall just across the way. (The restaurant also served the biggest plates of salad I think I have ever seen in all of our travels!)
Conscious of the fact that we had plans in the evening with my former exchange partner’s father, we paid our bill and then set off in the direction of the cathedral to the arranged meeting spot. Our evening was spent catching up on all the news and sampling a variety of local wines along with a few nibbles. It was then time to hop aboard the tram and make our way back across the city towards our hotel for a good night’s sleep!
Our two week tour had come to a close and when I think back at everywhere we had been, everything we had seen and all the old friends we had caught up with, it’s crazy to think how much we had accomplished in two short weeks. As always it was sad to think we would be heading home the next morning, but the holiday had been a blast and many new memories had been made.
I really hope you enjoyed reading all of my posts on my 2017 Interrail trip – if you missed any, you can find them all, along with our route, here. Love V x