Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Wandering in Wurzburg

A two-hour drive from Nuremberg brought us to Wurzburg. Wurzburg is a lively university town that serves as the beginning (or end) of the Romantic Road. The Main River cuts through the center of the town and lush vineyards dot the hillsides. The Residenz Palace and Marienberg Fortress complete the fairy-tale backdrop.

Dom St. Killian

After checking in to our bed and breakfast, we used the efficient tram system to reach the center of town. Two landmarks that tower over Wurzburg are the Dom St. Killian and St. Mary's Church. Dom St. Killian is the fourth-largest Romanesque church in Germany. It was rebuilt after a fire destroyed it during the war in 1945. Exterior reconstruction was carried out according to the original.

St. Mary's Church
I thought St. Mary's Church was really unique due to its red-and-white exterior and Gothic-style. It was built in the 14th and 15th centuries by the citizens of Wurzburg. It holds a prime position on the Marktplatz, the city's liveliest square.

After a brief overview of Wurzburg we decided to quell our hunger pangs with a dinner at Ratskeller Wurzburg. The offering was typically German: bratwurst, sauerkraut, potatoes. The shining star of the meal was the extensive wine list. I settled on a Rotling, wine made from a blend of red and white grapes. It was similar in color to a Rose with a perfect balance of sweet and dry. I quickly consumed two glasses and left the restaurant with a hankering for more.

An Appropriate Amount of Rotling
for 2.
I was in luck. We began a romantic stroll across the Old Main Bridge and noticed lots of people gathered around the center. As we moved closer, we realized they were in line outside of a restaurant. A young woman stood at a window, patiently filling wine glasses as a never-ending queue waited to sip their libations. We promptly got in line and decided we'd better order two glasses each because we didn't want to have to wait in the line again.

Armed with our four glasses of Rotling, we staked out a spot at the center of the bridge. The atmosphere surrounding us was jovial. We talked and laughed, enjoying the sounds of all of the other laughter and conversation even though it was all in German. The Main River flowed swiftly below us while the Marienberg Fortress towered over Wurzburg.

Marienberg Fortress over Wurzburg

The next day we were in a time-crunch again. We had to choose between the Residenz palace and the fortress. We decided on the fortress. Climbing to its perch over the town gave us the opportunity to burn off all of our Rotling calories.

Marienberg Fortress
Marienberg Fortress is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Beginning in 1250, it was the seat of the Wurzburg bishops. They enlarged the medieval castle, transforming it initially into a fortified Renaissance palace and finally into a baroque fortress.

Vineyards surround the huge complex of buildings, including an 8th-century church (St. Mary's Church-- not to be confused with St. Mary's Chapel inside Wurzburg). St. Mary's Church is one of the oldest in Germany.

St. Mary's Church

I was most impressed by the Princes' Garden, which probably dates back to the early 16th century. Flanked by beautiful balustrades and balconies, it's one of the most picturesque gardens I've ever seen. The flower designs were colorful and ornate and the views of the city were amazing. Wurzburg looked like a perfect, miniature German town from that height.

Our time was up far too soon. I would definitely return, driving the length of the Romantic Road to wonderful Wurzburg.

Sometimes all it takes to make a city is a stroll in a beautiful garden. And a wine bar on a bridge.

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