My husband works for a company that is headquartered in Germany. Maybe once or twice a year he has to fly back to the main training center for classes he is unable to take here in the States. Which means, bonus, I get to go. I don’t speak German, except to ask for two scoops of raspberry gelato. And really, prior to our trips there it wasn’t on the top of the list of places I wanted to visit. But I have fallen in love with Germany, with the Bavarian countryside and the urban city centers. There’s something extremely comforting to be able to use clean subways (which always have a pastry place), shop in pedestrian only zones and to have miles and miles of hiking trails.
But I am rambling, I have fallen head over heels in love with Bamberg, Germany. Truly. If I could afford to buy property it would be in Bamberg and if my husband ever gets a transfer to Germany I’m going to make him live there. He might fight me but I’ll dig my heels in and fight to the death. Bamberg is one the few medieval cities in Germany that was not destroyed by WWII. I take horrible pictures so these are the best I can do…
I know several relevant things about Bamberg; one, it is known as the Rome of the north because it was designated as the center of the Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Heinrich II in 1007; two, it is built on seven hills (like Rome) and each hill is topped with a church or castle; and three, the river Regnitz runs through the center of the city.
What does any of this mean for a tourist? Bamberg’s illustrious history has left it with splendid buildings that have escaped the destruction of WW II.
Bamberg Cathedral has been built and rebuilt several times over the course of the centuries. It sits stop Cathedral Hill, across from the Old Court and the New Residence. The church houses the tombs of Emperor Heinrich II and Pope Clement II. The palace across the street from the cathedral housed the Prince-Bishops and later on, King Otto of Greece. I took the tour here, and although the guide made an effort my lack of German was a real detriment. I did get an English hand-out to accompany me but it was clearly not as extensive as my tour guides descriptions. I was the only English speaker so I didn’t expect a translation and that was fine. I enjoyed visiting a palace that was not a reproduction after WWII.
Another sight in Bamberg is Michaelsberg Monastery. It is no longer a monastery. It is now occupied by a home for the elderly and a beer museum. It’s a hike, but it’s worth it.
Old Town Hall
The old town hall sits on an island in the middle of the river. It was built this way because of a land dispute between the Bishop of Bamberg and the citizens (I was told the Bishop refused to grant any land to the citizens to build a town hall so the citizens created an island in the middle of the river). It is decorated with impressive murals and statues.
Bamberg also has a wonderful pedestrian only shopping area. I love to explore for awhile and grab something to eat from one of the carts or street vendors that are in the square at the heart of the marketplace. If you’re a shopper, you’ll be happy. Bamberg has a number of unique shops along the pedestrian area as well shops lining the cobblestones up the hills. Gummy Bear Store?
I forgot to mention, on our last visit to Bamberg my husband and I did a “beer tour.” Bamberg is famous for it’s smokey beer. But most of the cities breweries are not open to the public. In order to visit we bought two beer tour tickets and participated in a brewery crawl with a few other beer enthusiasts. It was a blast.
Not sure how to spend a day in Bamberg? Visit http://www.bamberg.info/en/ for more information. But the best way to visit is to plan to spend a few days and explore the city on foot. You’ll need some type of transportation to get to Altenburg Fortress but otherwise you can hike the seven hills, your feet will thank you. The first time I visited I had no plan, no idea what to see and just enjoyed wandering through the city. The next time I indulged and did a river cruise. I love this city. I could spend years here and never really know every nook and cranny. If you’re in Franconia plan to spend some time in this lovely city.