Hail Franconia and a surprise in Wurzburg

Don’t you love it when you’re surprised by a place? The city of Wurzburg, Germany, was a stop on our Viking river cruise and our destination there, the Wurzburg Residenz.

Wurzburg? I’d never heard of it. And when I learned that it was in a region of Northern Bavaria called Franconia, it sounded suspiciously to me like the setting of a Marx Brothers movie.ducksoup1

Wait. Maybe that was Fredonia? I can almost hear the song . . . .

Anyway, Wurzburg’s prime tourist attraction is the spectacular Wurzburg Residenz, a building that deserves to be every bit as famous as Frances’ exquisite Versailles. Construction began around 1720 for Prince-Bishop Johann Phillipp Franz von Schonborn.

I’m not sure what it means to be a “prince-bishop.” But I do hope the funds that built this rococo masterpiece came from the prince’s pocketbook rather than from Sunday collections.

I have friends going on the same cruise next year and when we met to talk about the places I’d visited, Jayne wasn’t sure if she’d go on the Residenz tour or not. Soooo . . . this post is to urge Jayne (and you, if you’re in the neighborhood!) to visit this magnificent place. Unfortunately, we were not permitted to take photos inside. And a blog without photos is kind of wah-wah-wah . . . don’t you think?

As it turns out, my favorite photo of that whole trip, was taken from the courtyard at the Residenz, looking toward the Marienbad Fortress in the distance.IMG_1470

I did find a beautiful YouTube piece (link below – hope it works) posted by JourneyMephistix in 2011 that gives you a tour of the interior of the residence. One little piece of information I remember is that carriages drove right into the gigantic entrance hall so ladies could alight at the foot of the grand staircase, gliding up to join the festivities in the ballroom above.

Residenz Würzburg

Another little tidbit about Wurzburg:   between 1626 and 1631, as many as 900 witches were brought to trial and burnt, making the activities in Salem look like small potatoes. This took place under Bishop Adolph and was one of the largest peace-time mass trials in history.

Do Google Wurzburg Residenz for detailed information about the history of the building and the priceless works of art and decorative pieces inside it. Most of the city and a good portion of the residence was destroyed in bombing just weeks before the end of World War II. Fortunately, the Imperial Hall with its frescoes by Italian master Tiepolo and the Grand Staircase, along with the Vestibule, Garden Hall and White Hall survived, even as the building’s burning attic collapsed.

Later the resourceful war widows of Wurzburg spearheaded a 20 million euro renovation not only of the Residenz, but of the city itself. Seeing the magnificent Wurzburg Residenz is worth the trip – promise.

About katemahar

Freelance writer and event planner by trade . . . mother/daughter/sister/friend . . . passionate traveler . . . compulsive reader
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6 Responses to Hail Franconia and a surprise in Wurzburg

  1. Randy Will says:

    Kate I used to live in Kitzingen just outside of Wurzburg and went to my senior year of High School in Wurzburg. It is a very beautiful place. My wife Carolyn and I plan on a Viking cruise next summer so I can show her that wonderful city and area that I grew up in.

    I believe I’ll be following your posts from now on…thanks Randy

    • katemahar says:

      Lucky you – on both counts! That must have been an amazing experience and I’m certain you and your wife will LOVE the Viking cruise. Which itinerary are you on, Randy? I was on one that was a smaller ship on smaller rivers. The cruise started in Trier and worked our way to Nuremberg, with stays in Paris and Prague before and after. Thanks for following me and I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have about the cruise. Best wishes – Kate

  2. Randy Will says:

    I haven’t booked yet but I have been shopping for the Grand European Tour. We’ve never taken a long vacation like that and it my be overly ambitious to see so much in one trip. The other Viking tour is the Heart of Germany which is concentrated in the area I know from growing up. All of it will be new to Carolyn and I am courious to see the changes brought about in the last 30 years.

    The cruise seems to be action packed moving I assume each night, do you feel rushed or wishing to spend more time in each location?

    I do love your photo too. My high school prom was in that fortress. Safe and enjoyable travels.

    Randy

  3. katemahar says:

    Randy, I think river cruises are a wonderful way to get a taste of lots of places in a short period of time without the hassle of packing and unpacking a suitcase and moving from hotel to another every day or so. On a typical day you’ll wake up docked at a new town, spend most of the day touring the area, with time to explore on your own. You’ll get back on the ship in the late afternoon and enjoy dinner watching the world go by as the ship heads toward its next stop during the night. Since you spend your sleeping time moving, for the most part, that allows for far more actual sightseeing time than you’d have normally. It is packed with new places and experiences, but feels quite leisurely since you’re making no effort to get from place to place.

    As for wishing to see more – I feel that way about every place I visit! I would love to go back to that part of Germany and in particular, I fell in love with Bamburg. Did you visit there when you were a student? I think it was the Viking stop before Nuremburg. Something about that small city made me feel like I could live there. The perfect combination of Old World charm and “real life.”

    Whichever cruise you book, I am certain you’ll have the trip of a lifetime. River cruises are just wonderful and seem to attract so many interesting, pleasant passengers. Just watch out – they’re kind of like the old Lay’s potato chip commercial. I’ll bet you can’t go on just ONE!

    Kate

  4. Randy Will says:

    Yes my parents were avid travellers and every weekend we headed off to a local town and Bamburg was certainly one of them. It was quick and easy to do day trips in Germany. There was always a festival or interesting city to see. I have many wonderful memories and experiences from that time in my life. It’s good to know the pace is leisurely on the cruise and I hear you about why lug from one hotel to another when you can lug along with the hotel. You have me very excited about the cruise and now I am hoping this year goes by quickly. I can’t wait for next summer.
    Randy

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