Wuerzburg, March 2009

I was sick of being stuck in the office, and also being way too far from the mountains, so I bought a train ticket on what should have been a nice, nearly spring-like day in Germany, and headed to Wuerzburg (Würzburg).

Officially, it’s Bavaria, but Bavaria is awfully big, so I guess this would be called the heart of Franconia. As it lies on the main dedicated high-speed ICE line between Cologne and Munich, I’ve gone through here numerous times, but never stopped. It looked intriguing enough from the train station, with a high fortress crowning a hill way in the back, and a grand skyline of church towers dotting the city. 

This is one of Germany’s underrated treasures, relatively unknown still to foreign tourists, and it holds some of the nation’s most important cultural sites. It’s best known for the Residence (Residenz), famous for the fresco above the grand staircase. The Residence is decidedly Italian, from the distinctive internal arches, to the collections of art, to the Tiepolo fresco. I found the decoration rather overblown, but some of it was truly quite pretty, especially the nice corner room known as the Green Room, with its dark green and silver hue, and the (reconstructed) wood floor that gives an impression of three dimensions.

It’s of course been heavily restored, after heavy damage during World War II, where the roof was blown off, and exposure to the elements led to severe deterioration of the fresco, the floors, and some of the artwork. The restoration of the palace is perpetual, with the major reconstruction going on until 1987, and more recently, the Tiepolo fresco was restored between 2003-2006.

The Residenz

The Residenz

The city has managed to retain its charm, with meticulously restored buildings alternating with postwar structures. The bridge across the Main River is more than a bit reminiscent of Prague, just down the road by 400 km, and the old town is manageably small, with the liveliness of a university city.

Old town and the Main bridge

Old town and the Main bridge

Main River bridge

Main River bridge

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