The morning after our daytrip to Göttingen we all piled back into the car for a longer overnight trip to Würzburg. Our route took us down through Hessen and into Franken, a region in the northern part of Bavaria.
Some history, care of Wikipedia:
A Bronze Age (Urnfield culture) refuge castle stood on the site of the present Fortress Marienberg. The former Celtic territory was settled by the Alamanni in the 4th or 5th century, and by the Franks in the 6th to 7th. Würzburg was a Merovingian seat from about 650, Christianized in 686 by Irish missionaries Kilian, Kolonat and Totnan. The city is mentioned in a donation by Hedan II to bishop Willibrord, dated 1 May 704, in castellum Virteburch. The Ravenna Cosmography lists the city as Uburzis at about the same time. The name is presumably of Celtic origin, but based on a folk etymological connection to the German word Würze “herb, spice”, the name was Latinized as Herbipolis in the medieval period.
The Würzburg witch trials, which occurred between 1626 and 1631, are one of the largest peace-time mass trials. In Würzburg, under Bishop Philip Adolf an estimated number between six hundred and nine hundred witches were burnt. In 1631, Swedish King Gustaf Adolf invaded the town and destroyed the castle. In 1720, the foundations of the Würzburg Residence were laid. The city passed to the Electorate of Bavaria in 1803, but two years later, in the course of the Napoleonic Wars, it became the seat of the Electorate of Würzburg, the later Grand Duchy of Würzburg. In 1814, the town became part of the Kingdom of Bavaria and a new bishopric was created seven years later, as the former one had been secularized in 1803.
We settled into our rooms, then headed out into the city to see as much of it as possible before our 7pm dinner reservation. Looking at our map, we figured it’d be somewhat knapp to fit it all in, as everything seemed to spread out. We quickly realized however that everything was much closer than we had thought, and our first stop was only 4 minutes from our hotel. This was the Würzburg Residenz or former palace of the Prince-Electors, after they moved out of the Marienberg Festung or fortress.
Würzburg somehow managed to appeal to all of us. Its walkable size and Bavarian charm hooks you in, giving you the impression that you’re in a totally different country than the north or the Rhineland. Besides, everything seems so close together! Shortly after seeing the Würzburg Residenz we were well on our way to our next destination when we saw a football “riot”, one of the first in years, which consisted of 40 heavily armoured riot police chasing 20 hooligan-supporters of some inconsequential Munich soccer team who had been trashing a bookstore.
This action got our blood pumping, and with continued on our sightseeing with a feeling of excitement. “Würzburg,” we thought, “you’re all-right.”
And the city was quite something. We walked through the winding streets, looking longingly at the many wine booths set up near the river. Würzburg clings to both sides of the Main River, which flows through Frankfurt before reaching the Rhine at Mainz. On the Mainbrücke (Main River Bridge) we stopped to take some photos, commenting as well on the stereotypical Europeans with their sunglasses and scarves drinking wine.
Taking a page from Gustav Adolf’s book we then stormed the Festung or fortress across the river atop the hill. Here we gained a newfound appreciation for the Swedes for it took us 45 minutes to find the right path up, two of the three major paths having been closed for some idiotic reason. Still, we trudged up the paths and finally arrived at the top, panting and sweating from our valiant rush up a 45˚ vineyard slope. With the sun already going down we didn’t have much time, so we took a peek at the courtyard before walking around all the walls, then spent a frustrating 45 minutes trying to get down (it was here that we learned the other paths had been closed).
Somehow we managed to get down the hill in time to head back to the hotel and get changed, then make it ontime for our dinner reservation. The hotel and Wikitravel had recommended the restaurant, which really was more of a wine bar with painfully mediocre food and atrocious, unfriendly, lying service. You can usually count on German service being unfriendly, but at least they’re usually fair. If anyone reading this finds themselves in Würzburg, avoid the Juliusspital at all costs.