Beautiful Wine-Making Center
This beautiful medieval city surrounded by vineyards is a major wine-making center, famous for its Franconian wines. The largest and oldest vineyard in Germany is in located in Wurzburg.
Built to Impress
Their best example of the grand lifestyle of the aristocracy of the time is the Bishops’ Residenz palace. The Prince-Bishops of Würzburg at first resided in the Marienberg Fortress (We will cover that in the next post!!) on a hill west of the Main river until the early 1700’s. Prince-Bishop Johann Philipp Franz von Schönborn commissioned the building of a palace that reflected his position of power as an absolute ruler. He wanted a magnificent showplace comparable to the Palace of Versailles in France. The massive bastion was finally completed in 1744, after some fits and starts, by a different bishop. The Bishops’ Residenz showcased splendid artistry such as ornate stucco, painted vaulted ceilings, statues, frescoes and a glorious main staircase.
During World War II, however, the palace was bombed, causing devastating destruction to the priceless relics. In 1945 to 1987, the building was painstakingly restored and in 1981, the Bishops’ Residenz and garden were added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Living in Such Splendor in the 1700’s
This palace is a site to behold! The Grand Staircase and its unsupported vaulted ceiling, for example, has the largest fresco in the world, created by famed artist Giovanni Tiepolo. It fortunately survived the bombings of World War II. Of its 350 rooms, today about 10 are open to the public. Judging from what is displayed in these few rooms, the magnificence of the entire palace in the 1700’s, with all 350 rooms furnished, must have struck awe in the visitors of the time. Keep in mind that visitors here were likely of upper-class nobility while most of the population in the 1700’s were peasants.
This mirror room, recently refurbished at a cost of about three and a half million euros utilizes five pounds of gold leaf!
Chandeliers were made from imported crystal.
Behind the Residenz, is a beautiful garden. Nearer to the palace building, the garden was designed in a very formal, Baroque style. Farther away, the style changes to an English garden with meadows and small groupings of trees.
Location of the Christmas Markets
Wurzburg’s historic Market Square is a popular destination, offering outdoor eateries and a variety of shops. This is also the site of the city’s famous Christmas Market in December.
Witch Trials? Here?
The Marienkapelle Church located on the far side of this square was built in 1400th century. It was heavily damaged during World War II, then rebuilt in the 1950’s. This church played a major role in one of the largest mass executions in Europe.
The Würzburg Witch Trials took place between 1626 and 1631 and an estimated 900 people from the city were executed. The “witches” were burned at the stake outside of the Marienkapelle Church.
Europeans love the outdoors. Public spaces were filled with locals strolling, dining alfresco, shopping and overall enjoying the fresh air.
In case you missed any part of this journey, go to the beginning of this cruise here!!
What’s the Campus of Indiana University like in the Springtime? Check it out at Shine’s Pictures