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Guide to Würzburg, Germany

A German city that nestles in a gorgeous hilly location on the Main river. Home of fine German wine, custodian to a wealth of European history and the start to the Romantic Road. What’s not to enjoy?

Würzburg is a city in south central Germany, in the area known Franconia, northern Bavaria.  It’s roughly in the middle of the country, about halfway from the border with France, and Luxembourg in the west, and the Czech Republic in the east. 

Home to some 130,000 people as of the latest census, modern Würzburg is a home for education, research, and administration, which are among the primary drivers of its economy.  Like many cities in Germany and throughout Europe, Würzburg has quite an extensive number of heritage, cultural, and historic sites, as well as many other attractions for tourists and locals alike. 

The Residenz, Würzburg

 

History of Würzburg, Germany

The modern city of Würzburg can trace its origins to sometime between 5,000 BC and 2,000 BC, like many European cities in the region.  Early settlements by Celts and other Bronze Age civilizations gave way to rule by Germanic peoples in the early centuries AD.  It was Christianized in the late 600s AD, and remained part of the Roman Empire throughout much of its history. 

The 1600s through early 1800s saw the city changing hands many times, consistent with much of the rest of the region – between Swedish, French, Austrian, and other hands, until things stabilized in the early 1800s, with Würzburg becoming part of the Kingdom of Bavaria, and later the German state. 

Despite taking significant damage in World War II, the post-war period saw the majority of the buildings and architecture of any historical importance reconstructed as accurately as possible.  Much of that reconstruction is what persists to this day, as many of the important historical buildings and monuments were heavily damaged.  

From the ashes and rubble, however, the city has reclaimed much of its former glory, with faithful recreations of cathedrals and other important sites that trace their origins to some 1,000 years or more ago. 

Attractions and Things to Do in Würzburg

 

visiting WurtzburgFor visitors to the city of Würzburg these days, you would hardly know that 75 years ago, 90% or more of the city was in ruins, following British bombing during the closing campaigns of World War II.  

It really looks like quite the quaint German city or town you’d expect, including ancient-looking buildings and architecture throughout. 

Some of the main attractions, things to do, and things to see in Würzburg are highlighted below.  This list barely scratches the surface, however, and there’s a wealth of history, culture, and more to be found in the charming city of Würzburg.

  • The city is renowned for having “100 churches” spread across the nearly 90 square kilometers within the city limits. Some of the must-visits include Würzburg Cathedral, the Mariankapelle, Neubaukirche, Stift Haug Kirche, and St. Andreas, which represent a continuum from ancient Romanesque style all the way through to modern. 
  • Würzburger Residenz, the palace built in the 1700s for the then prince-bishops, which includes a church, famous impressive staircases, artwork, and the famed Imperial Hall, or Kaisersaal. There are also museums and galleries inside.
  • Marienberg Fortress, the structures of which date to the Renaissance, though the fortress itself has sat on the site since at least the 700s AD. It contains several museums and art galleries as well.
  • The Würzburger Stein vineyard just outside of town is one of the oldest and largest vineyards in all of Germany.
  • Several stand-alone museums also exist throughout the city, along with various art galleries and other artistic and cultural installations.
  • The University of Würzburg dates to 1402, and includes both old and new buildings along with a botanical garden and the conservatory, which is Germany’s oldest.
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