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Bamberg: a city called Franconian Rome

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Bamberg (about 70,000 inhabitants) is a city in Bavaria located in Upper Franconia along the Regnitz river, near the confluence with the Main river at an altitude of about 240 meters above sea level. The city is of medieval origin. Around the year 1000 it became the residence of the Dukes of Bavaria. Subsequently it was the capital of the homonymous ecclesiastical principality which remained in force until 1802. In this year it became part of Bavaria.

The period of greatest flowering of the city was the Renaissance, during which Bamberg was an important center of culture and art. It was in this period that numerous monumental buildings of the city were built. In 1647, the University of Bamberg was also founded under the name “Academia Bambergensis”.

The oldest part of the city, the “episcopal city”, stands on seven hills (for which Bamberg is called German Rome) and has remarkable civil and religious buildings, such as the Kaiserdom. In the center of the city extends the “bourgeois city”, also with very interesting monuments.

The historical-architectural fabric of Bamberg, which miraculously survived the bombings of the Second World War, has been preserved almost intact and still presents the spectacle of ancient streets with numerous monuments, palaces and water canals. This is one of the reasons why in 1993, UNESCO included Bamberg in the list of world heritage sites.


The city of Bamberg is one of the most renowned tourist destinations in Germany, it represents a remarkable example of Baroque urbanism. To visit the city it is better to leave your car in one of the many underground car parks near the historic center, and from there continue on foot. We begin the visit from the merchant city, and then end in the episcopal city.

Maximiliansplatz, home to the fruit and vegetable market, is a large square with a beautiful fountain. The square is surrounded by two Baroque-style buildings by the architect Balthasar Neumann: the Priesterseminar (Old Seminary) (1732-1737), now the seat of the municipal administration, and the Katharinenspital of the same period.

From here you reach the Grüner Markt. A long square characterized by baroque residences, the Jesuit church of St. Martin (Jesuitenkirche St. Martin) and the fountain of Neptune from 1698. This square hosts the flower market and is today the central heart of the city. The Jesuitenkirche St. Martin, dated 1693 is the work of Georg Dientzenhofer. The church is in Baroque style and houses a 14th century piety and a dome decorated with trompe l’oeil by Giovanni Francesco Marchini.


On the north part of an island in the middle of the Regnitz river is the Rathaus Schloss Geyerswörth (castle). This is the ancient castle of the bishop-prince. The building was built between 1585 and 1587 by Asmus Braun. Today the tourist office is located there. If you visit it, it is recommended to go up to the castle tower from where you have the most beautiful overall view of the episcopal city dominated by the cathedral.

In front of the castle there is the small islet where the Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall) is located, built on the water in the middle of the Regnitz river, built in the 14th-15th century, it was renovated by Michael Küchel in baroque and rococo style between 1744 and 1756; interesting is the legend concerning the foundation of this building, it seems that the bishop of Bamberg did not want to give citizens a space of land to build their town hall, so they created an artificial island in the center of the Regnitz river, where they built their palace. The town hall demarcates the border between the episcopal and mercantile cities, inside there are interesting frescoes.

In front of the Altes Rathaus is the characteristic 19th century fishing district, called Klein Venedig (Little Venice). Here you will find a series of colorful fishermen’s houses grouped on some islets along the Regnitz river.


From the Altes Rathaus you take the Karolinenstrasse, a suggestive cobbled street full of antique shops, and you reach the upper part of the city. Here, on Domplatz, overlook the imposing Kaiserdom and important buildings such as the Alte Hofhaltung and the Neue Residenz. The building that most characterizes the historic center is the Kaiserdom (Imperial Cathedral). It was built in the late 13th century in the late Romanesque style with some Gothic elements. It measures 94 meters long, 28 meters wide and 26 meters high. The structure is characterized by four imposing towers, each 81 meters high.


The cathedral overlooks Domplatz. Interesting outside is the late Romanesque choir, flanked by towers where two beautiful portals open, the Marienpforte and the Diözesandampforte. The Fürstenportal, the north portal is undoubtedly the most beautiful portal. Among the numerous works of art present inside are: the magnificent marble tomb of Emperor Henry I and his wife Cunigunde, sculpted between 1499 and 1513, and considered the masterpiece of the sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider. The equestrian statue called “Der Bamberger Reiter” (the Knight of Bamberg) of the thirteenth century, and symbol of the city. The tomb of Pope Clement II (13th century). The monument to Bishop Friedrich von Hohenlohe (14th century). Veit Stoss’s “Marienaltar” from 1523. The Kapitelhaus (Chapter House), connected directly with the cathedral, was built in 1731, and is now home to the Diocesan Museum.

On Domplatz there are other notable buildings linked to the episcopal power. These include the Neue Residenz (New Residence), a complex four-winged building. A first section was built in 1602 in the Renaissance style, and enlarged and enlarged between 1697 and 1703, in the Baroque style. It was used as a residence for the bishop-prince. The building was designed by Leonhard Dientzenhofer at the behest of the bishop-prince Lothar von Schönborn. Today the building, which can be visited, houses the State Library and the Staatsgalerie Bamberg. Inside there are beautiful historic halls full of paintings and frescoes, including the Imperial Hall with numerous frescoes.

The New Residence is connected to the Cathedral via the Alte Hofhaltung (Old Court), a former imperial and bishop’s residence, now home to the Historical Museum. The building is characterized by a beautiful Renaissance portal and a central internal courtyard which can be reached by crossing the “Schöne Pforte” (beautiful entrance), full of reliefs, by the sculptor Pankraz Wagner from 1573.


Also in the so-called episcopal city, the Judenstrasse, the street of the town bourgeoisie flanked by eighteenth-century buildings, is worth visiting. Including the Böttingerhaus, residence of Councilor Ignaz Tobias Böttinger, with a beautiful courtyard and a richly decorated interior, now home to an art gallery. Continuing along the Concordiastrasse we arrive at the Wasserschloss Concordia (Castle of Water), a baroque building designed by the architect Johann Dientzenhofer and built between 1716 and 1722 by Ignaz Tobias Böttinger himself. For a nice view of the water castle it is better to cross the river and observe it from the opposite side.

Christmas market (Bamberger Weihnachtsmarkt): takes place on Maxplatz, accompanied by various Christmas events and shows in the pedestrian area of the city and in front of the church of St. Martin (St.- Martins- Kirche).


The city of Bamberg is home to various interesting museums. Including the Neue Residenz-Staatsgalerie in der neuen Residenz Bamberg (New Residence and State Gallery). This museum allows the visit of the private and state apartments of the residence of the bishop-prince. These include the Imperial Hall, the Chinese Room and numerous valuable paintings.

The Naturkundemuseum (Natural History Museum). It is one of the oldest German museums, founded in 1793-1795. Inside there is the “Vogelsaal”, a beautiful ancient museum room. The museum deals with ecology, mineralogy and zoology.

The Bamberger Krippenmuseum (Bamberg Museum of Nativity scenes), is an important collection of nativity scenes from over 25 countries and some over 400 years old. The Diözesanmuseum (Diocesan Museum), houses the rich treasure of the cathedral, including some vestments of great historical value such as the imperial crown of Henry II, the mantle of St. Cunigunde, the funeral ornaments of Pope Clement II.


The Fränkisches Brauereimuseum (Franconian Beer Museum), housed in the rooms of an ancient Benedictine monastery. The museum is dedicated to the Franconian beer tradition. The Historisches Museum (Historical Museum), housed in the Old Court, exhibits the history, culture and art of the city of Bamberg and Franconia. The ETA-Hoffmann-Haus (House of ETA-Hoffmann), is a museum dedicated to the romantic poet, caricaturist and theater composer ETA Hoffmann, who lived in Bamberg between 1808 and 1813. The Sammlung Ludwig (Ludwig Collection), houses the rich collection of porcelains (Strasburg, Meißen, Nymphenburg and Frankenthal porcelain) by Peter and Irene Ludwig.

The Missionsmuseum (Missionary Museum), dedicated to the missions and the work of the missionaries. It houses pieces from India and South America. The Museum für Frühislamische Kunst (Museum of Primitive Islamic Art), dedicated to Islamic art, in particular to the metal craft products of the early Islamic period from Iran, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan.

Museum der “Kommunikations- und Bürogeschichte” (World Historical Museum of the Office and Communications), dedicated to the history of the office and communications. Gärtner – und Häckermuseum (Museum of the Market of Gardeners and Vine Growers), illustrates the history and activities of gardeners and vine growers over the centuries, presents traditional costumes and a garden house with cultivation of herbs and vegetables.

Staatsbibliothek (State Library), housed in a wing of the New Residence, shows some of the ancient works kept in the library including the manuscript of Emperor Henry II drawn up for the foundation of a church in 1007. Villa Dessauer-Stadtgalerie für moderne Kunst (Villa Dessauer-Municipal Modern Art Gallery), gallery dedicated to modern art. Feuerwehrmuseum Bamberg (Fire Brigade Museum), the history of firefighters from the 18th century to the present day.

The climate of Bamberg.

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