|Trip page||This page contains excerpts from several sources. It is added as background information for a write-up of a trip to Weißenburg.|
Welcome to Weißenburg
The old town of Weißenburg is one of the most impressive city centers and monumental monuments in the region. The town was built around a Carolingian royal court, and was given the status of a free imperial city in the early 14th century, which it could claim until 1802. The historic cityscape is characterized by the largely preserved Stadtmauer, the gothic town hall, the town church of St. Andreas and the Ellinger gate.
The history of Weißenburg is generally traced back to the Roman fort that was built in the area towards the end of the first century. In AD 89, the Romans forced the local Celtic population out of the Weißenburg area and founded a garrison town. The settlement, which included Thermae, lay on the border of the Roman Empire and on the Tabula Peutingeriana from the 4th century it had the name Biriciana. Germanic tribes destroyed the fort and settled in what is still the city centre. The first mention of the name Weißenburg is in a deed dating from 867. The city became the seat of a royal residence during the reign of the Franks and according to legend, Charlemagne stayed there to supervise the construction of Fossa Carolina.
The city became a Free Imperial City in 1296 and continued to grow until the Reformation. Following the example of Nuremberg the city joined the Protestant side but it suffered heavily in the ensuing wars. However, the rights of the city as a Free Imperial City and an Imperial Estate were restored in the final peace treaty and some growth resumed. Despite its insignificant size and economic importance, the city, like the other 50-odd free imperial cities, was virtually independent.
The construction of the Wülzburg fortress from 1588 onwards and the Thirty Years' War set the city in many different ways. In 1802, the city lost its freedom, first to Kurbaiern, then to Prussia and finally to the Kingdom of Bavaria in 1806.
The many stages in the history of Weißenburg can still be seen today. There are many ruins from the Roman times. One of the finest is the remains of a Roman bath which was excavated in 1977 and has been turned into a museum. The city wall from the Middle Ages has survived almost intact with its towers and in the Gothic Town Hall the city's elected members have held their meetings from 1476.
Roman Baths of Weißenburg
The Roman Baths in Weißenburg - also referred to as the Great Thermae - are one of the most remarkable relics of the Roman camp and its garrison, the vicus Biriciana, whose duty was to protect the northern border of the province Rhaetia (Upper Germanic Rhaetian Limes). The baths that served the garrison are today located at the edge of the present day city of Weißenburg in Bavaria. They are among the very few such archaeological remains that are preserved on German soil.
In 1977, during the excavations to the west of the fort of Biriciana, massive Roman stonework was found which turned out to be part of a large Roman spa. Remains of Roman walls were uncovered during foundation excavations for the construction of housing estates. The housing project was halted at once pending further investigation. Following extensive conservation and reconstruction work, the bathhouse was opened to visitors in 1985. Raised walkways guide the visitor around the covered site.
On June 16, 1977, the city council of Weißenburg made the decision to assume sponsorship for the project, which soon proved to be the most luxurious Roman military bath yet discovered and the largest Roman facility of its kind between Regensburg and Saalburg.
Archaeological excavations lasted until autumn 1977 and led to complete exposure of the site. The new protective structure enclosing the grounds - the result of an architectural competition - was built in 1978-79. Conservation and restoration work was carried out between 1981 and 1983. The main concern was to preserve the state of the ruins as true to the original as possible after the excavation and to conduct a reconstruction only where it seemed desirable, either because it was necessary for conservation purposes or for a better spatial representation.
Weißenburg town walk
1. Roman Museum and the Bavarian Limes information centre
The Römermuseum (Roman Museum) in Weißenburg is an archaeological museum, and a branch museum of the Archaeological State Collection Munich. The thematic focus is Roman history, the Romans at the raetical Limes in Bavaria, the Romans in the Weißenburg-Gunzenhausen district, and the Weißenburger treasure.
The newly-designed Roman museum and the Bavarian Limes are open again since 15th March 2017. You can see Roman archeological finds from Weißenburg and the surrounding area. Visitors will be familiarised with the Roman history of Weißenburg and the area north of the Danube. The exhibition will also focus on the meaning of the Limes as a frontier of the Roman Empire. Central to that aim is the famous treasure hoard, discovered in 1979, which is one of the largest and most important finds in Germany. The find contains high-quality pieces of Roman art with examples of Roman gods and cultural objects. Unique in quality, composition, and quantity are the 17 statues of Roman gods and goddesses, which were produced in the second century AD by diverse craftsmen across the Roman Empire. All the artefacts were buried by the Romans to save them from falling into enemy hands.
The Bavarian Limes information centre (BLIZ) in Weißenburg, in the foyer of the Roman Museum, forms the main knowledge exchange for the UNESCO Limes world heritage site in Bavaria. The freely-accessible rooms give information about the origins of the Limes and the ongoing research, as well as information about Roman life along the former Roman border. Also available is information about other parts of the frontier such as Hadrian's Wall and the Antonine Wall, as well as the background of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention.
2. St. Andreas church
The St. Andreaskirche is the main church of Weißenburg. Opposite the church are the Old Latin School , the Roman Museum and the Reichsstadtmuseum with the Haus Kaden. The church was consecrated in 1327, and was extended from 1390 - 1425 with the late Gothic hall choir and the Michaelskapelle (bridal portal). From 1459 onwards, the East Tower was built in front of the choir in a building that lasted for sixty years. The church tower is the tallest building in the city. The St. Andreas church holds valuable altars dating back to 1500 and a familiar confession (1606). The treasures of the church are on display in the former sacristy.
Roman Museum and information centre
St. Andreas church
3. Old Latin School
Between 1581 and 1806 the house Martin-Luther-Platz No. 9 housed the Weißenburger Old Latin school (Alte Lateinschule). Since 1703 Johann Alexander Döderlein has been a rector of the Latin school for more than 40 years. In 1806 the school was closed. From 1896 to 1899, the Stadtbibliothek Weißenburg was located in the building. Today it is part of the Protestant community center.
4. Pentagonal Tower
The pentagonal tower (Fünfeckturm) was part of the Weißenburger Zwinger and is one of the 38 still preserved towers of the city wall. The tower is also called Pulverturm. It is located on the north wall, and was built in 1469.
Old Latin School
5. Ellinger Gate
The Ellinger Gate (Ellinger Tor) is the most famous medieval city gate of the city fortification of Weißenburg, and forms the northernmost part of the Old Town. The main tower dates from the 14th century and was expanded around 1510 around the foredeck and two smaller towers with curved domes. The top floor was erected in 1662. Since 1977, the tower houses the Historic Council Library of the City of Weißenburg.
6. Blue House
The Blue House (Blaues Haus) is a blue building located within the protected old town. The house was built from 1760 to 1767, and served as a residential and factory building. Since 1799 there is a pharmacy in the building.
7. Millennium fountain
The millenium fountain (Millenniumsbrunnen) was created in the millennial year 2000 put into operation in the same year. It has a square base of three by three meters and consists of limestone and bronze. The Millennium Fountain bears 24 annual figures, which highlight important events in the history of Weißenburg. It was commissioned as completion of the redesign of the square.
8. Terror Tower
The terror tower (Schreckerturm), presumably dating from the 12th century, housed the prison in the Middle Ages. From here the prisoner was led to the town hall by the Pflastergasse. Executions were basically carried out outside the city walls. Today the name "Galgenbergstraße" reminds us of the former execution site. The tower, demolished in the 19th century, was rediscovered in 1996 during construction work and was partly reconstructed.
9. Old Town Hall
The Old Town Hall (Alte Rathaus) is located in the geographical center of the northern part of the old town, at the intersection of the long-distance trade routes that crossed Weißenburg. The building was erected from 1470 to 1476 at the height of the heyday of the Weißenburgs as the town hall of the then Reichsstadt. The construction of the archive tower of the building took place in 1567. The three-storey Steildach building consists of sandstone blocks and is decorated in gothic style. The New Town Hall is on the other side of the market square.
10. Market square with horseshoe fountain
The market square is located in the southern part of the three T-shaped former main traffic axes of the city. The well, built in 1548/49 and renewed in 1685, bore the name "Beautiful Fountain". It was only in recent times (from the 19th century) that it was known as the "Schweppermannsbrunnen". This is due to a legend, according to which a Weißenburger fame under the field leader Schweppermann in 1322 in the battle near Mühldorf should have victoriously fought on the side of Ludwig of Bavaria against the Habsburg Friedrich the fair. The central fountain column contains four water pipes, which jump out of the mouths of flat grim masks. The expansive cornice carries a column about 4 meters high and a knight figure, which was renewed in 1966. The original knight figure with lance and shield is located in Reichensstadtmuseum Weißenburg and is interpreted as a kind of Rolandstatue.
Old Town Hall
11. Luitpold street - Wood market
Luitpoldstraße is the largest square of Weißenburg's old town. The former name of the wood market (Holzmarkt) is due to the fact that wood and firewood were used for the craft. Today it is named after the Royal Bavarian Prince Regent Luitpold of Bavaria. In the heyday of the old town, the Holzmarkt was laid out on a regular basis at the right angle to the market square. The road forms a long rectangle and is remarkable in its spaciousness.
12. Cultural center Carmelite church with monastery garden
The Carmelite church (Karmeliterkirche) of the monastery Weißenburg is the church of the former convent of the Carmelites in the diocese of Eichstätt. The monastery was founded in 1325 by Heinrich, Lord of Heideck, with the collaboration of Count Gebhard III. Following the Reformation, the monastic buildings came into the possession of the Reichsstadt Weißenburg In 1544. The transformation to the Cultural Center took place between 1981 and 1983. After the purchase of the town in 1991, the monastery's former garden was used as a public park.
13. Kaiser-Ludwig Fountain
In 1338 the Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian laid the foundations of the great city forest (Stadtwalds). In 1903, the citizens of Weißenburg built him the monumental fountain (Kaiser-Ludwig-Brunnen) with a bronze statue of him.
The Schranne is a neo-Gothic market hall, located at the An der Schranne square. Today, the Schranne is used as a market hall. In addition, the building is a showcase where artisans can show their works.
Kaiser Ludwig Fountain
The Brauereimuseum is a small brewery museum was set up in the cellars of a restaurant in painstaking detail. You can see historical banners, which make an interesting journey into the craftsmanship of earlier times.
16. Former Wildbad Weißenburg
The former Wildbad Weißenburg is a former bathing complex located on the southern wall of the historic town stemming from the 16th century. In the years 2000/2001 the building was extensively renovated. The façade of the Wildbadstraße shows the viewer his original face again; from the reopened central portal and renewed stairs to decorative gables and fine sandstone surfaces.
Former bathing complex
17. Spital church
The Spital church (Spitalkirche) to the Holy Spirit is an evangelical hospital church, established in 1447 as a bourgeois hospital. Instead of tearing down the old city wall and the old gate, which had been located within the old town since the 14th century, the city walls were built into the church, and the church tower was built from the former city gate. After a delay of a town war between 1449 and 1451, the roof was completed in 1458 and the choir was completed in 1493. On the south wall is a picture cycle of the life of Jesus. The frescoes are dated to the year 1480. The hospital was a great source of money for the city and the church, which is why the small hospital was built in 1586 to the church reformed since 1530. The pulpit with tendrils and winding corner pillars was donated in 1675. Winter storms in the 1990s caused great damage, and the church was completely renovated afterwards.
18. Scheibleins tower
The Scheibleins tower (Scheibleinsturm) is the only still existing round tower of the city wall, and was for a long time one of the prisons of the city. It dates from the 14th / 15th century.
19. Am Hof
The name Am Hof (at the court) points to the Carolingian royal court, which is first documented in 867 and whose beginnings probably continue into the 7th / 8th century. On the street are several buildings, which were renovated during the urban development measures. The former well, which previously stood at the Saumarkt, was moved to Am Hof.
20. Historic city wall
In front of the eastern city wall area one can still see the flooded fortress. Old maps of Weißenburg show that the western trenches were constantly filled with water, while the rest only in the case of defenses.
Old City Wall
21. Shooting gallery wall
The town wall section between Frauentorstraße and Oberer Stadtmühlgasse dates back to the 14th and 15th centuries, and goes back to 1376. The "Schießgrabenmauer" ("shooting gallery wall"), which was situated in front of the wall section, was the historical training center of the "Old Town" until 1879. In 1250, Weißenburger shooters were documented.
22. St. Willibalds church
The St. Willibalds Church (St Willibaldskirche) was constructed in the years 1869-1971, following the rapid increase in the number of Catholics in the Protestant city. The church was modeled on St. Mary's Church in Göppingen. The main portal is flanked by the figures of the Apostles Peter and Paul, who are crowned with the canons. Two Ingolstadt paintings from the 16th century are located in the side altars. In 1937, the church community acquired a late Gothic tapestry from Nuremberg , which was set up as a high altar in 1939. The image of the altar shows the crucifixion of Christ. In front of the north wall are a Willibalds and a Walburgafigur. The images of the crosses are from the 18th century. The organ was consecrated in 1940 by Bishop Michael Rackl. The neo-gothic Hallenkirche has a stony Westphalian façade and a choir flank tower crowned by a pointed helmet. The garden fencing is from the year 1894.
St Willibalds church
23. Former Augustinian convent
The former Augustinian convent (Ehemaliges Augustinerinnenkloster) was donated by Emperor Frederick II shortly before 1238, but was abolished in 1296. From 1331 as a hospital under the monastery Wülzburg, then property of the margraves of Brandenburg-Ansbach, since the Prussian time Weißenburgs (1804-1806) office for various authorities, today part of the Landratsamtes Weißenburg-Gunzenhausen.
Weißenburg castle, called Biriciana in the ancient times, was a Roman fort. It lies west of the old town of Weißenburg. Today, the castle, with its partly underground conserved buildings, the reconstructed North Gate, the large thermal baths and the Roman Museum with integrated Limes information center, is one of the most important addresses of limes research in Germany.
Former Augustinian convent