Würzburg, the city of churches. And why Germany is the “most civilized place on earth”

Würzburg, the city of churches. And why Germany is the “most civilized place on earth”

I don’t think we’ve seen as many astounding highlights in one small city as we’ve seen in Würzburg. Over the course of one afternoon we saw Würzburg’s version of the Charles Bridge (the Alte Mainbruecke), a huge castle with great views (the Marienberg Fortress) as well as a whole bunch of churches (the city is actually known as the “city of 100 churches”).  We actually ran out of time for Würzburg’s most famous landmark, the UNESCO Heritage site Würzburg Residenz (considered one of the finest palaces in Europe).


The reason for Würzburg’s wealth of landmarks is that it was the capital of the Kingdom of Franconia, one of the 5 great duchies of medieval Germany from the 10th century to the 19th century (when Napoleon merged Franconia with Bavaria). As home to royalty for all these centuries the city benefited and flourished.

Lots of photos in this post. We loved our short visit and want to come back sometime soon for more exploration.

Below: The Marienkapelle Church (Church of our Lady) is probably the most photographed church in the city (it is also probably where you’ll start your downtown walk as it is located right next to the tourist office). It is a late gothic period church built between 1377 and 1480. The Marienkapelle is the final resting place for many Franconian knights and citizens. We love the light and the beautiful stained glass windows.

St. Mary's Chapel, Wurzburg

St. Mary's Chapel, interior, Wurzburg

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Below: Views of the Alte Mainbruecke (main old bridge) and the Marienberg Fortress from the river’s edge.

Alte Mainbrücke and Marienberg fortress wurzburg

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Below: views along the Alte Mainbrueck (main old bridge). Erected from 1473 to 1543. The architectural style and statues of the saints really do remind you of the Charles Bridge in Prague.

Alte Mainbrücke, wurzburg

Alte Mainbrücke views, wurzburg

Alte Mainbrücke (old main bridge), wurzburg

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Below: Views looking up at the Marienberg Fortress from St. Burkard church. There’s a path up to the fortress from the church that will take you through the vineyards to the top.

views of Marienberg Fortress

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The Marienberg Fortress was our highlight in Würzburg. Although officially closed when we were there (in late February) you can walk within the grounds for absolutely fantastic views of the whole city.

Marienberg fortress, wurzburg  (2)

views of wurzburg from the Marienberg Fortress, wurzburg

Marienberg fortress, wurzburg 1

Marienberg fortress, wurzburg 3

Marienberg fortress, wurzburg 4

views on Wurzburg
It was around this point that someone had to go to the bathroom real bad. I don’t want to point fingers but it wasn’t me. This led to a hectic “where’s the closest bathroom?!” conversation. The castle was officially closed (opening March 16) and there was absolutely nothing going on except for some construction work in the fortress’ courtyard. It was at least a 10 minute walk down to the city below. That’s when we saw the discrete WC sign next to the exit gate. The door was open. Inside lay sparkling clean bathrooms. Only in Germany could such bathrooms exist and be open when officially closed.

Happy and feeling better, Lissette made a startling proclamation. “Germany has to be the most civilized place on earth” said she with a warm glow in her voice. I think she’s right. But not just when it comes to bathrooms. Walk anywhere in Germany and you know they’ll be a beergarden waiting for you at the end of your walk. Even if it’s up a steep hill to some remote fortress you’ll find beer waiting there for you. Along with a clean bathroom. That’s civilization.

Below: Würzburg’s skyline.

wurzburg skyline

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Below: Würzburg Cathedral, also known as St. Kilian. It’s probably the most unassuming church in a city full of impressive churches. Originally completed in 1075 it is actually the 4th largest Romanesque basilica in Germany.

st kilian cathedral, Würzburg Cathedral (German Würzburger Dom)

st kilian cathedral, Würzburg Cathedral interior(German Würzburger Dom)

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Below: within a hundred meters of Würzburg Cathedral is the Neumünster, a Romanesque style Cathedral from the 11th century. 

Neumünster, Wurzburg

Neumünster interior, Wurzburg

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By the time we got to the UNESCO Heritage site Würzburg Residenz we were tired. It was getting colder and we had done a lot of walking. It was time to go home to Bamberg. We decided that we had to come back to Würzburg, it was worth a second visit (probably best done in the summer when the gardens are in full bloom).

We skipped the Würzburg Residenz but if you’re curious our friends at TravelYesPlease covered it here.

Würzburg Residence

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On the way back to the train station we stopped and wandered in to Stift Haug, another incredibly church. Honestly, it’s amazing that they could have so many churches in such a small area. The old town is not even 1 km across, yet we had seen all these monumental churches in different architectural styles. Stift Haug was built in the late 1600’s  in Baroque style – it is a little mentioned Würzburg church but is just a colossal building.

Stift Haug, wurzburg

Stift Haug, interior, wurzburg

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Würzburg is stunning and we didn’t give it the time it deserved on this visit. We will be back. I’ve mentioned a few times on this blog how much we love Germany – every time we come back we find new places to love in this country. It really is one of our favorite destinations.

Below: A montage of churches visited over the course of a few hours. If you’re a big fan of churches then Würzburg (as well as Bamberg) should be on your list.

compilation of wurzburg churches

 

Related: Bamberg, Würzburg or Nuremberg? Photos that will convince you that Bamberg should be your base in Franconia.

 

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Comments

  1. Absolutely stunning images! I love each and every one of them :-). What a beautiful place, so picturesque. How relieved Spanky must have been to see the bathrooms. I was halfway thinking you were going to have a tale that involved squatting and l was thinking “in Germany?” .. We gotta make our way over there at some point..too pretty 🙂
    Kemkem recently posted…Podcast with Expats! – Thailand with JennyMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thanks Kemkem. For all her near misses Spanky’s never had to actually drop the pants. I’m the one it actually happened to – off the side of the road in a National Park in Colombia.
      Fantastic wine and beer in the area Kemkem 😉

  2. wow! I had no idea about this one! It’s incredibly impressive!
    Andrew recently posted…First Taste – KyotoMy Profile

  3. Hey you two, I can’t believe you didn’t go to the Residenz…well next time! Wurzburg is a great little city, lots to do. We lived only 30 minutes from there for a couple of years. Enjoy!
    Corinne recently posted…Travel Time PerspectiveMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Yes, I know, we felt guilty skipping it. But it was late afternoon and the Residenz gardens weren’t in bloom anyway since it was late Feb. But we’ll be back sometime to see it in season.

  4. We loved our 2 nights in historic Wurzburg, evenings hanging out with everyone else on the bridge with a glass of white Sylvaner wine (what a great custom, right?), and visiting as many of the sites we could in our short time there. If you make it back and see the Residenz, go on the guided tour – that’s the only way you can see the BEST rooms in the huge palace. Great place to visit, I enjoyed revisiting through your pics!
    Rebecca recently posted…Middle Age Fishing Village of San JuanMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thanks so much for the great tip Rebecca. Evening on the bridge sounds nice, we’ll have to go back and spend at least a night.

  5. Next time you go, we’ll meet you there. We’ll do the fortress while you do the Residenz and then meet up for a beer. On our one visit there we didn’t make it to the fortress, unfortunately. We did a day trip from home and like you, just ran out of time. The bathroom story made me chuckle and thankfully yes, Germany is very civilized when it comes to bathrooms.
    Travels and Tipples recently posted…A Tale of Two CastlesMy Profile

  6. Fantastic photos! Looks a great place to visit, always handy to know where the nearest loo is too!
    Carole
    Paul and Carole recently posted…Our stay at the Secret Garden Beach Resort, Bangrak, Koh SamuiMy Profile

  7. Sara Yoel says:

    Hi,
    Amazing photos, so much to travel and see. I looked at the one church “Neumünster, a Romanesque style Cathedral from the 11th century” and can’t believe they built these in the 11th C. Almost too good to be real. They can’t built a decent road in the US in the 21st C. Well, keep feeding us your marvelous photos. And by they way Frank, I am looking to cancel a hotel in Warsaw and book on Air b&b. Could you send me again your link (can’t find it) so I can book it through you this time and not “mess it up” again. Thanks!

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thank you Sara – so true, the stuff they built back then that lasts centuries. We’ll never see that again.
      Here’s the link: https://www.airbnb.ca/c/fthomae?s=8 It’ll work though only if you haven’t signed up yet for Airbnb and will give you a $25 US discount on your first rental.
      If ever you need Airbnb tips don’t hesitate to ask, we’ve been lucky to stay in some great apartments lately. Check out this place we just left today: https://www.airbnb.ca/rooms/8967184

  8. I thought the same thing about the bridge- it really reminded me of Charles Bridge in Prague. Love your pictures of the fortress, but I’m wondering how I missed out on that red and white church!
    Rhonda Krause recently posted…The Squares of SavannahMy Profile

  9. Wow, this city is beautiful, just imagine with the flowers in bloom! Nice to know to prepare for a longer stay here. I would find it hard not to go into each church…. spectacular! You were right Frank when you said I’d love it. Can’t wait to experience it for myself 🙂
    Paula recently posted…Slow Travel….By SailingMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Germany is great Paula and doesn’t get enough credit. Franconia is a lovely region, everyone speaks English, and the beer is fantastic. Can’t recommend it more 🙂

  10. This place looks like the perfect setting for all sorts of movies! Do you know if that’s the case? Is this a popular place to shoot movies? It’s so epic!
    Hung Thai recently posted…Best Places to Paddle Board in HawaiiMy Profile

  11. Looks like a really well nurtured city. The columns on the Romanesque Cathedral remind me of Sicilian Baroque architecture. Loved the overview photo of the river and city.

  12. Wow! I see what you mean. Never knew this about Wurzburg. They used to have a seriously nice beer from there. Think it was named Hof Brau (this is going back many years), is it still around? It was like Grolsch, but better.
    Ted recently posted…Cerreto GuidiMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Hi Ted, Hofbrau just refers to “brewery” – but there are so many in the region. The best in my opinion was in nearby Bamberg which we used a base and you could buy bottles of Bamberg beer in bottles (no cans) and they’re really cheap. Fantastic, best beer I’ve ever had, I personally prefer the amber/dark beers. But makes you farty 🙂
      Franken wine is also great and Wurzburg is really known for that as well.
      Anyway, great region and lots of nice stuff to drink.

  13. Beautiful photos! I’ve not heard of Wurzburg until now, but an extended trip to Germany is on our wish list. I would definitely visit here and see all the beautiful churches. The bridge really does recall the Charles Bridge too!
    Karen recently posted…Wat Niwet Thammaprawat- Thailand’s Gothic Buddhist TempleMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thanks Karen. Germany is great, one of our favorite countries and the Franconia region is fantastic. Really recommend it.

  14. Dee (Dee's Butterfly Garden) says:

    Wow, beautiful amazing pictures!! The city is absoultly amazing!!

  15. Thank you for such beautiful pictures. I have never heard of this place, since I have not travelled much in Germany and know so little about what it has to offer. I definitely would like to visit this gorgeous city.
    Gilda Baxter recently posted…Pen-Y-Fan The Highest Peak in South WalesMy Profile

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