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Historic Highlights of Germany from A to Z
Würzburg: world heritage and Franconian wine.

Würzburg: world heritage and Franconian wine.

Würzburg is a pleasing harmony of history, culture and wine. This university town and former royal seat is idyllically situated on either side of the Main river and offers a vibrant atmosphere and an endearing charm. It has gained a name as the centre of the Franconian winegrowing region and, not least, as a city with exceptional places of interest.

Würzburg is full of contrasts: a former episcopal seat and a young university town, baroque architecture and a distinctly mediterranean feel combined with Franconian hospitality. The architectural splendours that define the city reflect a range of periods. Art, culture and Franconian wine are essential parts of Würzburg life and create a feast for all the senses. Visitors will find themselves on a captivating and exhilarating tour of discovery through different eras and styles. Even from afar, the two imposing towers of St. Kilian's Cathedral point the way to the city. Built by Bishop Bruno in 1040, it is the fourth largest Romanesque church in Germany at a total length of 105 metres. Würzburg's famous landmarks are the UNESCO World Heritage Residenz Palace, with its palace gardens and square, the Marienberg Citadel and the 180-metre-long Old Main Bridge, which is lined with impressive statues of saints. Straddling the banks of the Main river amid idyllic vineyards, the location alone is reason enough to visit Würzburg. Another reason is the local wine served in Bocksbeutel bottles, whose characteristic flattened round shape has become a trademark for the entire region. It is not known for sure whether the shape is derived from the traditional water bottles once used in the fields, but it does have a significant advantage: it prevents the bottles from rolling away. Quaint pubs and traditional wine taverns offering local Franconian cuisine as well as top-class international restaurants can be found throughout the city. And, because this is Würzburg, it's only right to order a Bocksbeutel of wine along with your meal.

The centrally located Bürgerspital was established as a charitable institution for people in need of care in the 14th century but also upholds another fine tradition: wine growing. Regarded as the birthplace of the Bocksbeutel, the winery is certainly worth a visit. Also in the city centre is the Bürgerspital restaurant and wine tavern, regarded as the world's centre for Bocksbeutel culture. But culture is also on offer elsewhere, for example in the fascinating museums. One of these, at the Marienberg Citadel, houses the largest collection of works by the famous woodcarver and sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider. You will encounter this great artist again in the Cathedral Museum, which features around 300 pictures and sculptures from the last millennium. Its concept is fascinating: Christian themes interpreted by modern and contemporary artists, such as Ernst Barlach, Joseph Beuys, Otto Dix, Käthe Kollwitz, Wolfgang Mattheuer, Werner Tübke and Andy Warhol, are juxtaposed with the works of the Old Masters, including Riemenschneider, Georg Anton Urlaub, Johann Peter Wagner and Johann Zick. Slightly more modern art from the 19th century to the present day is the focus of the award-winning Kulturspeicher Museum at the old docks. Art by the world for the world is housed in this exhibition space covering 3,500 square metres. It includes the Ruppert Collection, which presents concrete art in a remarkable setting. A classical art collection awaits discovery at the Martin von Wagner Museum. The discovery of X-rays, which also took place in Würzburg, may not appear to have anything to do with art at first glance. However, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen's invention has been used to analyse and preserve countless works of art. Röntgen's original laboratory welcomes visitors, and the city looks forward to your visit too.

City Highlights

Completed in 1780, the former residence of the prince bishops of Würzburg is one of the most important baroque palaces in Europe. Three generations of artists and artisans from all over Europe worked on the interior, which was extraordinary for its time. The ceiling frescos created in 1751-53 by Venetian artist Giovanni Battista Tiepolo in the Imperial Hall and on the stairway are regarded as a masterly achievement. In addition to the palace, there's also the court chapel and a total of 40 rooms reflecting the styles of different periods and filled with a wealth of furniture, tapestries, paintings and other works of art from the 18th century. Read more

Towering over the river Main, well-fortified and yet full of charm, Marienberg Citadel is a fine example of a medieval castle. Originally built as a Renaissance palace and later converted into a baroque fortress, it is one of Germany's oldest ancestral seats. A Celtic fortified refuge stood here in 1000 BC, a Church of St. Mary was consecrated here in 706 and the castle was founded in around 1200. The Fürstenbau Museum can be visited in the innermost ward of the medieval fortress which, in addition to exquisite furniture, tapestries and paintings, also houses the Prince's Hall and the prince-bishops' treasury and vestry.

Situated in an exceptionally beautiful estate in the heart of Würzburg – also known as the 'birthplace of the Bocksbeutel bottle' – the Bürgerspital is a modern wine estate that dates back almost 700 years and is deeply committed to quality and tradition. Characteristic features include several different sized rooms with vaulted ceilings – the Sternstube, Alte Weinstube and Teufelskeller. People can relive the 'good old days' in the wine cellar, one of the largest wooden barrel cellars in Germany with 220 ancient oak barrels. An incredible three quarters of a million litres of wine are stored in the cellar with its tunnel vaults – from a venerable 1893 vintage to vivacious young wines.

In addition to the Kulturspeicher Museum, this former harbour building on the edge of the old quarter houses the Bockshorn and tanzSpeicher theatres.

The Bocksborn is chiefly devoted to cabaret, chanson and music, and the majority of the artists that perform here already enjoy a certain level of popularity. The tanzSpeicher, on the other hand, provides a venue for external dance companies as well as for performances by its resident ensemble. Covering an area of around 3,500 square metres, the Kulturspeicher Museum presents a collection of art from the 19th to the 21st century along with Peter C. Ruppert's collection of concrete art.

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