Würzburg was a wonderful place to visit and a popular place to live, too. Being a major city in northwest Bavaria with a fairly significant ex-patriate population, I had cause to visit numerous times. But twice, I had an opportunity to fully explore the city. It offered a great mix of historic treasures in the "Altstadt" or 'old city', a wealth of nice modern suburbs, lots of industry, mountain surroundings to pretty up the landscape, and enough seclusion from the Frankfurt (Main)-Hanau metropolis to the west to provide peace and quiet when wanted. That said, Würzburg sat at the intersection of Autobahns 3, 7, and 81 -- three of the busiest highways in the country. While it theoretically provided direct Autobahn access with the likes of Frankfurt, Stuttgart, and Regensburg, the traffic could have been bad, making getting in and out of the city a headache at times.
This travelogue combined the two city visits in May 2001 and November 2003. Between the two visits, I combed most of the downtown attractions, paying most of my attention to the Marienberg Castle and the huge Residenz Würzburg.
The Marienburg is shown in the first photo, lording over the Main. Being such a large structure, it dominated the scene, so much so that it was clearly visible from the Autobahns about ten kilometers to the south. So naturally, that would be my first target.
I found plenty of different ways to reach the castle -- walking, bus, and car. I drove up there during my first visit, the roads leading there followed around to a huge parking lot in the back. On the second trip, we walking up there together. There were two paths available. The longer path zigzagged across the front at a slow grade, passing by the vineyards. The shorter path pretty much led straight up the hill at a steep grade. We suggest going up the long way and go down the short way.
The second photo provides a good look at the vineyard path in front, taken in the fall. In my spring journey, these were fully grown in and very pretty. The vineyards handled a wide variety of grapes, as each row was tagged with the particular type -- from common German varieties like Riesling and Silvaner to Mediterranean types and various cross-breeds. The white building in the distance of the second photograph was a monastery that was not accessible from the Castle grounds. Beyond the tunnel was the edge of a steep valley seaprating the monastery from the Castle.
The Marienberg provided lots to see and do. There was a fantastic museum that told the history of the grounds. There is a tower in the center where I climbed to get a panoramic view of the castle, although it wasn't quite high enough to get a good view of the city. There was a wellhouse with a 150 meter deep well inside where one could drop coins and make a wish (it was covered with a grate, so it was perfectly safe). I counted all the way to ten-Mississippi when I dropped my one Euro-cent coin inside before it hit the bottom (and it's so far down I'm really not sure when it hit bottom).
It also provided some excellent views of the old city and the Main River. The third photo shows one such view from the very top. Among the landmarks were the Alte Mainbruecke, the arched stone bridge at lower left, the Rathaus or town hall, the square stone tower about a block up the road, the Neumuenster Dom or New Cathedral, the two white towers in the distance at upper left, and the Marienkirche, clearly visible at middle left.
The Marienkirche is also shown in the fourth photo, next to the yellow Haus zur Falken or 'house of the falcons', an old Baroque palace. Both of these buildings marked the old market square that in our 2003 visit would soon host the annual Christmas Market. The shopping areas in Würzburg were pretty big, and had a lot of the same shopping available in most larger German cities.
Downtown Würzburg had many architectural and cultural gems. One of my favorite places was the Ratskeller, a hotel and restaurant located in a clock tower on the backside of the Rathaus. The interior was extraordinarily decorated and the food was fantastic. Würzburg hosted a full ange of churches in the downtown, and monuments and fountains seemed to appear at every corner. The Alter Mainbruecke was similar to the old stone arch bridge at Heidelberg, with a number of statues lined on each side.
Beyond the main pedestrian area lay the famous Residenz, pictured in the fifth photo. The Residenz was a miniature Versailles that had become part government building and part museum in modern times. In my first visit to the city, I toured the museum and enjoyed the stunningly elaborate interior, including a staircase filled with statues, murals, and other artwork; a gorgeous conference center and theater; and numerous well-restored rooms (including studies, guest rooms, waiting rooms, etc.) with original paintings. There was an emphasis on the battles of Alexander the Great. Each room was a jaw-dropper.
I also enjoyed the exterior ground. The Residenz boasted a large garden, a small part of which was included in the photograph. At the time this picture was taken (May 2001), the flowers were just budding. In full bloom, this was a sight not to miss. On the adjacent side of the Residenz was another flower garden graced with cone-shaped trees and several large statues.
In short, Würzburg was a super sprawling city with lots to see. Visitors would naturally be drawn to the Marienburg and the Residenz, but there was a lot of activity in between.
Trips taken 27 May and 18 June 2001 and 22 November 2003 -- Page last updated 01 September 2006 -- (C) 2003 Tom Galvin