|Trip page||This page contains text from a Tourist Guide of Bamberg from the local tourist office. It is added as background information for a write-up of a trip to Bamberg.|
Welcome to Bamberg
Bamberg is located in southern Germany in the north of Bavaria. It is a good example of a central European town with a basically early medieval plan and many surviving ecclesiastical and secular buildings of the medieval period. When Henry II, Duke of Bavaria, became King of Germany in 1007 he made Bamberg the seat of a bishopric, intended to become a 'second Rome'. Of particular interest is the way in which the present town illustrates the link between agriculture (market gardens and vineyards) and the urban distribution centre.
From the 10th century onwards, Bamberg became an important link with the Slav peoples, especially those of Poland and Pomerania. During its period of greatest prosperity, from the 12th century onwards, the architecture of this town strongly influenced northern Germany and Hungary. In the late 18th century Bamberg was the centre of the Enlightenment in southern Germany, with eminent philosophers and writers such as Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and E.T.A. Hoffmann living there.
Enchanting squares, narrow lanes, Baroque façades and a mediaeval ambiance make Bamberg's old town so unique.
The topography of the city built on seven hills has lent it the nickname "Franconian Rome". The most striking edifices - the Imperial Cathedral, the Baroque New Residence and the Old Court - are all located on Cathedral Hill, the spiritual and temporal powerhouse of the Bishopric of Bamberg from the 11th century until 1802. The hills, the imposing Altenburg Castle and the heaven-bound spires of the churches create a beautiful backdrop for this uniquely special town.
Whereas the higher settlements are dominated by ecclesiastical buildings and institutions, the area below the Cathedral is home to the trades, breweries and mostly bourgeois and sometimes palatial architecture.
The Imperial Cathedral with its four spires is one of Germany's most impressive examples of Late Romanesque – Early Gothic architecture. It accommodates the burial place of Pope Clemens II († 1047), the only papal tomb north of the Alps. The first Cathedral, consecrated in 1012, was an endowment from Emperor Heinrich II. The imperial tomb of ruler Heinrich and his consort Kunigunde, the Altar by Veit Stoß and the Bamberg Horseman are among the most prominent works of art inside the Cathedral. Even to this day, the identities of both the Horseman and its sculptor remain a mystery. The Diocesan Museum is next to the Church and boasts some unique treasures.
The Old Court with its "beautiful gateway" and the romantic inner courtyard framed by half-timbered buildings, form the heart of the once imperial and episcopal palace. The 17th century New Residence lies opposite with its State Apartments and the unique Imperial Hall. The inner courtyard of the New Residence by architect Johann Leonhard Dientzenhofer reveals the enchanting Rose Garden, based on plans by Balthasar Neumann. The Garden commands a breath-taking panoramic view of St. Michael's Monastery, the rooftops of the Old Town and the surrounding countryside.
The Old Town Hall is quite a curiosity. Legend has it that the Bishop of Bamberg refused to give the townsfolk an inch of his land for the construction of a town hall. In response, Bamberg's citizens rammed stakes into the River Regnitz and created an artificial island in the middle of the river, upon which they built the first Town Hall, known today as the Old Town Hall. Of particular interest are the Baroque frescoes on the façades. This beautiful building boasts the prestigious Rococo Hall and is home to the Ludwig Collection Collection of faience and porcelain of the Baroque era.
The former fishermen's settlement along the left tributary has been affectionately dubbed Little Venice. The idyllic row of mostly mediaeval houses prop each other up along the river shore, creating a romantic ensemble.
St. Gangolf's church boasts the oldest foundations in Bamberg and comprises several styles. The parish church, a former convent of canons, was built in the 12th century under bishop Otto the Holy in a romanesque style and converted into a gothic style around 1400. It later received baroque furnishings and today boasts a romanesque nave, a gothic choir, rococo altars and a modern altar, thus spanning many centuries.
The St. Otto is a Catholic parish church built by Orlando Kurz in the market gardener's district in 1911-1914. First 20th century church to become a listed building.
Old Town Hall
The Old Town Hall in Bamberg is quite a curiosity: The frescoes that adorn the facades are as amazing as the story behind the building's construction. According to legend the bishop of Bamberg did not grant the citizens any land for the construction of a town hall. This prompted the townsfolk to ram stakes into the river Regnitz to create an artificial island, on which they built the town hall they so badly wanted. The Old Town Hall's frescoes never fail to impress as they lend the facades a three-dimensional quality achieved with trompe d'oeil architecture. A special detail is a continual source of mirth among tourists: the leg of a cherub protudes out of the wall as a sculpture. Today the Old Town Hall accommodates the prestigious rococo hall and the Ludwig Collection.
The former prince-bishop's city palace was built from 1585-1587 and is used today by the social services departments of Bamberg's city adminsitration.
Old Town Hall
The former fishermen's district in Bamberg's Island City is endearingly known as Little Venice. This district is characterised by half-timbered buildings that prop each other up and by tiny, pretty gardens. The half-timbered buildings were mainly built in the Middle Ages. They are squashed together along the riverbank, creating a quaint and picturesque scene, with boats floating in the moorings by the front gardens. The river cruise takes you directly past this unique line of houses.
The square is named "Maxplatz" in short and is the largest square in the town centre. It is dominated by the Baroque front of the present-day town hall, built by Balthasar Neumann from 1732-1737.
St. Martin's Church is located in the heart of the bourgeois town. Built by the Dietzenhofer brothers, it is Bamberg's only baroque church. The creation of this church is closely linked with the Jesuits as it was originally constructed as the university church and the church of the Jesuit College. After a construction period of just seven years, the house of worship was consecrated in 1693. The trompe d'oeil dome by Giovanni Francesco Marchini and the early 14th century pieta are well worth seeing.
St. Michael's Monastery
On the initiative of Emperor Heinrich II., the former Benedictine monastery of St. Michael was founded in 1015. Today its imposing baroque style architecture cannot fail to impress. As early as 1117 the first church was destroyed by an earthquake. Bishop Otto then had a romanesque house of worship constructed, with only minor changes being made to the mediaeval monastery's appearance until the 17th century. Following a fire in 1610, the church was rebuilt in a neo-gothic style. In the 18th century, the Dientzenhofer brothers gave the monastery a baroque facelift. The baroque church facade with its impressive flight of steps, the tomb of St. Otto and the neo-gothic reticulated vault are well worth seeing. A highlight inside the church is the "celestial garden", a fresco featuring 578 flowers and herbs. The terrace behind the church commands a panoramic view of the city.
The "Bible gardens of St. Michael's" is a small garden within the walls of the former Monastery. It shows a total of 49 plants mentioned in the bible. Each plant bears an annotation on the biblical context, the symbolism behind the plant and its medicinal effects. One patch shows selected plants also depicted on the wonderful painted vaulted ceiling of the church itself with its 578 plants and flowers.
It is well worth strolling through the baroque terraced gardens, featuring a fountain and two pavilions. The "Benedictine path" is traversing the former baroque gardens. One of the projects of Bamberg's 2012 Bavarian gardening show is the new vineyard within the old monastery gardens. Up until the 18th century, Bamberg was a wine-growing area as well as a beer producing town, and this vineyard now re-establishes this tradition.
St Michael's Monastery
The St. Getreu church was built in 1652 after the plans of Justus Heinrich Dientzenhofer and ranks among the most significant baroque sacred buildings in Bavaria.
Neo-classical villa owned by Dr. Karl Remeis (died in 1882) with a beautiful view and coffeehouse.
Bamberg's city archives see themselves not only as a documentation centre ("The administration's memory") but also as a centre for research on Bamberg's history and its associated institutions. In addition, literature, photos, posters and films etc relating to and from Bamberg are collected here. The archival materials, some of which date from 13th century(!) and the archival collections which are continuously being extended, are available to the public to answer any questions on Bamberg's past and present (within the framework of the valid legal requirements).
Despite its baroque facade, St. Jacob's is the only completely romanesque church in Bamberg. In the 11th and 12th centuries, when the church was built, it was situated outside the fortifications around Cathedral Hill, and was used by numerous Jacob pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela. Initially, the church was modelled around Heinrich's cathedral and was constructed as a column basilica. In 1771 the baroque facade was added, behind which numerous components from the romanesque period can still be discovered. Inside it is impossible to overlook the many romanesque elements.
Dom (Imperial Cathedral)
The Cathedral Square is one of the most impressive squares, featuring architectural styles from all periods, the Old Court, the New Residence and the Rose Garden. The Imperial Cathedral with four spires is perched on top of one of Bamberg's seven hills and forms the heart of the city and the region's most significant edifice.
St. Peter's and St. George's Imperial Cathedral is one of Emperor Heinrich II's legacies. It contains numerous impressive sights. Emperor Heinrich II. had the Cathedral constructed in Bamberg as early as 1002 and it was completed in 1012 after a building period of just ten years. However, this house of worship fell victim to fire, as did its successor. The third construction which contains stylistic elements of the late romanesque and early gothic periods has survived to the present day. The highlights include the tomb of the holy imperial couple Kunigunde and Heinrich II., created by Tilmann Riemenschneider, the "Bamberg Horseman" who is shrouded in mystery, the altar by Veit Stoß and the papal tomb of Clemens II.
The Old Court ranks among the most impressive buildings in the city. The complex once served as the bishop's residence. The precursor to the Old Court was the Castrum Babenberg and the former palace of Emperor Heinrich II. After the foundation of the bishopric in 1007, it was also used as the bishop's residence. Following the Cathedral fire in 1185 a single-storey palace was built on this spot, which replaced in the 16th century with a splendid German renaissance building. The "Beautiful Gateway" by sculptor Pankras Wagner catches the eye: it depicts a relief of the Mother of God, St. Peter, St. George, St. Kunigunde and St. Heinrich as well as personifications of the rivers Main and Regnitz. The gateway leads into the romantic inner court which is lined with half-timbered buildings. The Old Court accommodates the Museum of History and St. Katherine's Chapel which is used for civil wedding ceremonies.
The New Residence with its splendid rooms and lavish furnishings is an impressive reflection of the prince-bishops' life. The state gallery contains a significant collection of old German and baroque paintings. Until 1802 the New Residence served as the seat of Bamberg's prince bishops. The more than 40 magnificent rooms are adorned, among others, with stucco ceilings, furniture and rugs from the 17th and 18th centuries. The imperial hall, painted by Melchior Steidl, the elector's rooms and the prince-bishops' appartments are particularly worth seeing. The "Old German Gallery" and the "Baroque Gallery" contain significant works of art from the Bavarian State art collections. The Rose Garden in the inner court of the New Residence commands a breath-taking view of Bamberg.
Founded as a convent in the 12th century, the monastery was converted to Baroque style by Leonard Dientzenhofer 1692-1701. Behind the Baroque facade of the entrance a late Romanesque cloister dating from the 13th century awaits the visitor.
The Church of Our Lady, which is called "Upper Parish" by the locals, is Bamberg's only purely gothic church. The simple nave was added 50 years after the late gothic choir whose foundations date from 1375 and the upper choir which is supported by flying buttresses. The wedding portal is a striking feature with its gothic statues. The church interior with a nave and two aisles contains baroque furnishings. The painting "The Ascension of Mary" by Tintoretto is a particularly valuable work of art.
The St. Stephan church, devoted to the martyr Stephanus, is built on the most eastern of the seven hills. It has been Bamberg's most important protestant church since 1807. The original building, which was probably donated by empress Kunigunde, was erected at the same time as Heinrich's Cathedral and was consecrated by Pope Benedikt VIII in 1020. Today's church was constructed in two phases in the 17th century and is based on a Greek cross. The choir, built by Giovanni Bonalino in 1628/29, includes elements of the baroque, neo-gothic style. The three other naves, for which Antonio Petrini was responsible, reflect a baroque style, strongly influenced by the renaissance. The works of art span the baroque period to the present day.
In 1707-1713 court counsellor Ignaz Tobias Böttinger had the baroque palace built like the Italian Palazzi. The interior contains a richly embellished court and a terraced garden. Today, the building is privately owned.
Only three years after Böttinger House was finished, Ignaz Tobias Böttinger commissioned the architect Johann Dientzenhofer with the building of the Baroque water castle Concordia (1716-1722). The building is home of the International Artist's House Villa Concordia. The best view of it is from the opposite bank of the river. There are regular exhibitions and public events.
Lock no. 100
Last of the locks of the old Ludwig-Main-Danube-Canal, built between 1836 and 1845. It connected the Danube near Kehlheim with the River Main just outside of Bamberg. Over the course of these 172 km ships had to pass 100 locks, surpassing around 200 metres of elevation, and needed to be towed from the riverside going upriver. Even though a technological masterpiece in its time and a great work of industrial history, the canal was never very successful, as the competing railway lines expanded fast nearly at the same time, and the 100 locks, the shallow water depth limiting overall tonnage, and the hard work of towing the ships upriver were relicts of the past far sooner than the architects had reckoned with. Today, the lock 100 is still active for leisure and sport boats as well as canoes and is operated by hand. Furthermore, the lock helps to regulate the water level in the old arm of the River Regnitz. An idyllic lockhouse stands nearby.
Altenburg castle is perched on top of Bamberg's highest hill and is one of Bamberg's major landmarks. The castle was first mentioned in 1109 and was used at this time as a refuge. In the 14th and 15th centuries it served as a richly furnished residence for Bamberg's bishops, but was almost completely destroyed in 1553 by margrave Alfred Alcibiades von Brandenburg-Kulmbach in the second margrave war. The only remains of the mediaeval construction are the 33 metre keep from the 13th century and parts of the surrounding wall. An iron basket hangs from the upper section of the tower which was used to send fire signals to Giechburg castle near Scheßlitz, 20km away. In the Romance period, Altenburg Castle was rebuilt. E.T.A. Hoffmann retreated to one of the wall towers in 1812, to which the "Hoffmannsklause" restaurant in the new building of the former palace (1901/02) owes its name. The terrace commands a panoramic view of the episcopal town and the surrounding region.
Lock no. 100