Sunday, 2 August 2015
Bamberg - Mediaeval Jewel of North Bavaria
The old town in Bamberg is the largest, preserved historic centre still in its intact state in Germany. For this reason it has been on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1993, and in a Europe where so many Altstadts are anything but (having been mostly destroyed in WW2) Bamberg provides the visitor with an authentic feel of what a mediaeval German town was like.
It is not a day-trip destination for Berliners though. It is situated in northern Bavaria (Bayern), and even on a high-speed ICE train takes five hours to get there, via Fulda (though once a day direct) and changing onto a regional train at Würzburg for an hour.
The long journey is worth it for the architecture and history of the city. It has strong links with Slavic culture (particularly Polish and Hungarian) and with the German-speaking Franks, as well as being the seat of power of prince bishops of the Holy Roman Empire. Bamberg was also a centre for the flourishing of Enlightenment ideas in southern Germany, and philosophers and writers such as Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and E.T.A. Hoffmann lived here. Claus von Stauffenberg (the would-be Hitler assassin as played by Tom Cruise) has associations with the town as well; he began his military career with the local cavalry regiment, and married his wife Nina here in 1933.
Whether you are a great fan of the baroque or gothic, or are attracted by Bamberg's rich religious heritage, or are a beer connoisseur (Bamberg has nine historic breweries - try the local Rauchbier), or just like wandering around twisting mediaeval streets, Bamberg will not fail to please.
To further get a feel for Bamberg, please check out my gallery of photos of Bamberg.