A centre of imperial and episcopal power for almost a thousand years, and often referred to as the Rome of Franconia, Bamberg stands on seven hills surrounded by beautiful countryside. Dominated by its imperial cathedral, the town is a unique and superbly maintained masterpiece of urban design, uniting medieval and baroque architecture.
Bamberg's well-preserved old town comprises three historical districts – the episcopal town, the island town and the market gardener's town. All three are part of the UNESCO World Heritage site and provide a fascinating example of how central European towns were built up around the basic layouts established in the early Middle Ages. Bamberg was given special status as far back as 1007, when Heinrich II was building the town into a centre of episcopal and sovereign power, making it the centre of the newly founded diocese and turning it into a second Rome. Five churches in the form of a Latin cross mark the layout of the town. The historical townscape features numerous monuments from the 11th to the 18th century and some 1,200 architectural monuments. With its four towers, the imperial cathedral of St. Peter and St. George is the most prominent building. Inside are the Bamberg Rider, a priceless masterpiece of consummate simplicity; the tomb of Pope Clemence II, the only papal grave in Germany; and the tomb of the Emperor Heinrich II and his wife Cunigunde. Domplatz (Cathedral Square) is bordered by the impressive baroque New Palace and the Alte Hofhaltung Palace. Other highlights include the Brückenrathaus, the rose garden with a view of the old town, the tanners' cottages by the old canal, the mill district and the fisherman's village known as Little Venice. And then, what with this being Bavaria, there is Bamberg's beer. This is where you'll find the famous smoked beer, which, along with other distinctive brews, is best sampled on one of the special Beer Tasting Tours, which will take you to various bars and breweries in the town.
Tips for your visit
Guided tour: 'Fascinating World Cultural Heritage': daily at 2pm; also at 10.30am from April to December
Free organ recital in the cathedral: May to October, Saturdays at 12 noon
Market Gardeners' Museum in Bamberg with self-guided tour and viewing platform
23 April 2014: Beer Day: public tasting of beer from all Bamberg's breweries on Maxplatz square in the old town
29 November 2014 to 6 January 2015: Bamberg Nativity: around 400 Nativity scenes spread across 40 locations in museums, churches and public buildings and on town squares
Further information www.bamberg.info