The One with Bamberg

Monday, December 23, 2013

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Chris had last Friday off so we took a day trip to the city of Bamberg, Germany.
The rising sun looked like a sunset over the city of Creußen. That was the last we'd see of the sun that day, ha.
It's been raining a lot on our adventures so we wised up and got a raincover for our stroller. It worked wonders and kept the kids dry during the first couple hours of our trip when it rained. 
We found a parking garage under the tourist information building, parked, and made our way up and out to civilzation. A beautiful city awaited us!
Bamberg extends over seven hills, each crowned by a beautiful church. This has led to Bamberg being called the "Franconian Rome" - although a running joke among Bamberg's tour guides is to refer to Rome instead as the "Italian Bamberg". It's a town in Bavaria, Germany, located in Upper Franconia on the Regnitz river, close to its confluence with the river Main (pronounced "mine"). Its historic city center is a listed UNESCO world heritage site. The town, first mentioned in 902, grew up by the castle (Babenberch) which gave its name to the Babenberg family. On their extinction it passed to the Saxon house. The area was Christianized chiefly by the monks of the Benedictine Fulda Abbey and the land was under the spiritual authority of the Diocese of Würzburg.
There's also an Army base in Bamberg that is slowly closing and many folks are coming down to Graf from there.
Bamberg is one of the cities not mentioned in the Rick Steves Germany book, but Chris took over and played tour guide. We stopped at the TI and bought a super cute umbrella and the employees were so nice and gave both Fox and Jane a ginormous sucker which kept them occupied for a good 20 minutes!
We headed out to see all that we could see!
Berries / Kinda creepy sculpture
'Tis the season! The town was decked out with Santas and all things Christmas.
Festive storefront / Pink tipsy topsy building
If you google images of Bamberg, most of the pictures you'll see are of the Rathaus/Town Hall. 
A bridge led over the Regnitz river at this point as early as the 11th century. The town hall was built in the middle of the 14th century and rebuilt by Bamberg citizens after a fire disaster in 1440. 
We walked under, around, and through the Town Hall and felt sufficiently satisfied with our experience there. Super cool building.

Photo op! Käthe Wohlfahrt stores are the crème de la crème of Christmas trinkets.  
Bamberg is just oh so cute and exactly what I picture in my mind's eye when I think of Bavaria.
Down the river from the Town Hall is Little Venice. 
The former fishermen's houses are lovingly named Klien Venedig. Small medieval half-timbered buildings with balconies and tiny gardens in front line the banks.
Statue along the bridge. 
This is my new favorite building in the whole wide world! 
Details of the town.
We walked up the hill to the Bamberg Cathedral.

We got a better view of the entire cathedral later in the day, but here it is now so it's all together:

The cathedral is a late Romanesque building with four imposing towers.

It was founded in 1002 by the emperor Henry II, finished in 1012, and consecrated on May 6, 1012. It was later partially destroyed by fire in 1081. 
The new cathedral, built by St. Otto of Bamberg, was consecrated in 1111 and in the 13th century received its present late-Romanesque form. 
Top left: A Nativity altar in the south transept made of limewood by the famous artist Veit Stoss. He made it when he was about 80 years old. Top right: One of the most magnificent sculptures in the cathedral is the marble tomb of Emperor Henry II, the founder of the cathedral, and his wife, Empress Cunigunde. It took the famous sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider 14 years to carve: between 1499 and 1513. The tomb is slightly higher than floor level because below there is a crypt. The carvings around the sides tell of various episodes in the lives of the imperial couple. Bottom left: Janey being a painey :) Bottom right: A nativity scene set up for Christmas.
Another treasure of the cathedral is an equestrian statue (below, left) called the Bamberg Horseman. People have tried to guess for years who this knight on horseback really is. During the cathedral’s history people have often made up stories about who he is. The Romantics thought he was a German emperor from the Hohenstaufen family. The Nazis thought he was a knight who symbolized German perfection, looking towards the east for new lands to conquer. This was Nazi propaganda. The knight on the statue does not, in fact, look east at all. It is now thought that he was probably the 11th century Hungarian king Stephen I. Modern technology has made it possible for us to know what the original colors were, and this has helped scientists to identify him. The sculptor carved only his mask into the sculpture, leaving his identity a mystery. 
Vine covered walls outside the cathedral. Textural and lovely.
Next to the cathedral is the Old Court. 
The Old Court is the former imperial and bishop's palace and was once directly connected with the cathedral. We walked through the schöne pforte (beautiful gate) to enter the inner courtyard which is surrounded by half-timbered buildings.
Inside the inner court, looking back at the cathedral / A wooden door
Half timbered buildings galore.
Strike a pose! With my new artsy Bamberg umbrella!
Across from the Old Court is the New Residence - undergoing construction, darn scaffolding ruining my pics!
The four-winged complex was built in two stages. The Baroque wings facing the cathedral were built under Prince Bishop Lothar Franz von Shöborn by Leonhard Dientzenhofer between 1697 and 1703.
Our Castles Pass includes a tour of the Palace so we hopped aboard. Here's Chris, Fox, and Jane checking out some art before the tour started. 
The tour began and we entered the magnificent Receiving Hall. 
We only lasted a few minutes and only in this one room due to some children being particularly unruly...

So we headed outside to the rose garden which is probably lovely in the spring and summer! Even now I find the twisty, leafless trees beautiful. 
The views from the Rose Garden up to St. Michael's can't be beat!
Fox having the time of his life, unleashed and free to run to his heart's content.
Looking down below to Bamberg.
We walked back down into the city to find some lunch.
We found a little bakery and we got some pretzels and sandwiches.
Then we walked back to the car to drive to a couple more sights.
First we drove up to the tallest of the seven hills to see the Altenburg Castle. 
The first mention of the Altenburg was in 1109, although it is likely that it was built on the spot of an earlier palisade castle.

It first served as what is known is German as a "Fliehburg".

This is a castle that was not regularly inhabited but served mainly for city defense as a place where local residents could flee to in times of danger. In 1251 the sovereign bishops of Bamberg acquired the castle. From 1305 to 1553 it was the residence of the bishops.

In 1553, during the Second Margrave War, the army of Albert Alcibiades, Margrave of Brandenburg-Kulmbach, burned the castle down. Afterward the castle was used as a prison for awhile.

In 1801, the Bamberg physician Adalbert Friedrich Marcus acquired the decaying castle and restored it from the ground up. The author E. T. A. Hoffmann, who was friends with Marcus, felt so drawn to the castle that he frequently stayed for a long time in one of the wall towers during the years 1808 to 1813. 
Supposedly there are panoramic views of the entire city of Bamberg below, but we couldn't see them cuz it was "froggy". 
Trying to see something, anything.
We found popcorn popping!
The kids call canons "booms".
The castle has a restaurant inside - we saw some waiters carrying out big dishes of cooked potatoes that smelled delicious!
Pretty nifty lookin'!
After a quick stop at Altenburg Castle we drove to St. Michael's Monastery.
St. Michael's is a former Benedictine monastery and was founded as early as 1015 at the suggestion of Emperor Heinrich II. After its dissolution in 1803 the buildings were used for a hospital and now it's an old people's home.
The steps to go inside were blocked off so we took a turn around the buildings.
View from the back.
It wasn't nearly as foggy down here so we got some beautiful views of Bamberg.
Then it was back to the car and a short drive home while the kids napped.
Overall, Bamberg is a beautiful city and I highly recommend visiting there if one gets the chance. 


  1. Looks like an amazing place!! LOVING all the photos!! My fave is the one with Chris with the kids in front of the painting!!

  2. Great post! Bamberg was a fun city! It's too bad they're are closing the base down there because that is a great location to be!

  3. WOW! How fun! I love the photo of Chris and the kids looking at the big painting. Future Art Historians? I hope so!

    We gotta add Bamberg to our list!

  4. it's funny that you mention the base there because i have a friend whose dad was in the military and grew up in bamberg so it's cool seeing these pictures since she talks about it all the time. looks pretty awesome!!


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