Ansbach was once the seat of the Margraves of Brandenburg-Ansbach and is idyllically located on the Castle RoadIt boasts a wealth of historical sights that you perhaps wouldn't expect from a town of its size. Its close proximity to the Franconian Heights nature park is yet another good reason to pay Ansbach a visit.
Ansbach's long history is reflected by the many old buildings, such as the court chancellery, the churches of St. John and St. Gumbert, the Residenz Palace and the glorious orangery in the court gardens. The town is far from merely a dry and dusty relic, however, as the 'sculpture mile' ably demonstrates. Every year from mid-July to mid-October, this display of modern art in public spaces provides a striking contrast to the historical buildings and market squares and always provokes lively discussion.
Rococo opulence, brought to life in Ansbach
Less cutting-edge but no less enjoyable is the annual Ansbach Rococo Festival, which recreates the courtly splendour of the town in the 17th and 18th centuries. The margravial orangery in the court gardens provides the setting for this festival of music and dance that turns the clock back to a very different era. Built from 1726 to 1728 and modelled on French designs, the orangery is a first-class tourist sight even when the festival isn't on. So too is the Residenz Palace – the last word in baroque splendour with 27 state rooms capturing the elegance of the time. Among them are the soaring banqueting hall, the mirrored hall and the tiled hall, the latter decorated with around 2,800 tiles from the famous Ansbach faience manufactory. The synagogue also dates from the mid-18th century, and though rather unassuming from the outside, is one of the most important baroque synagogues remaining in southern Germany. As there is no longer a Jewish community here, the building serves today as a memorial and museum and can be visited as part of a guided tour of the town.
Kaspar Hauser: a beggar and a nobleman
Just as margraves and master builders from the baroque era have left their mark on Ansbach, so too has one of the most enigmatic figures of recent history: Kaspar Hauser. In 1828 he appeared in Nuremberg begging in rags and tatters – yet by the time he was stabbed and killed in the court gardens of Ansbach in 1833, he had shown himself to be a young nobleman, cultured, urbane and with a thirst for knowledge. Despite intense speculation, his identity is still unknown to this day. The town honours his memory with a fine statue and a memorial stone at the site of his murder. You can also learn more about him by visiting a new special section at the Margrave Museum or his grave, which bears the dedication "riddle of his time, his birth was unknown, his death mysterious". Ansbach has hosted the biennial Kaspar Hauser festival since 1998, but the whole town is a lovely place to visit all year round and has plenty of surprises in store for visitors.