“Travelling – It leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta
For long, the Romantic Route in Germany has fascinated me. I believe it was introduced as a strategy to boost tourism in the 1950s. It includes cities and towns which are ‘quintessentially German’, dotted with fairy-tale inspired castles and breath taking architectural wonders of historical significance. Inflamed by the awe-inspiring photographs on Instagram, I ensured that, at least, one of the historic cities and one of the medieval towns be part of the itinerary when we recently visited the country. We finally settled on Wurzburg and Fussen, the two places which are considered the start and finish on this route.
I believe Wurzburg is usually the place where visitors decide to start their tour of the Romantic Route. We, however, decided that Wurzburg would be the last stop on our trip because of its proximity to Frankfurt from where we were flying back to India.
The majestic and natural beauty of Germany mesmerised us throughout our trip and as we made our journey towards this charming Bavarian city, I felt elated while watching the scenic landscape pass by.
Wurzburg did not disappoint us. The city reputed for its Franconian wine is located on the Main River and surrounded by hills. Our Airbnb accommodation, located at walking distance from the city centre and just across the street from the river, allowed us to explore the city at a leisurely and serene manner. Our spirits were not dampened by the clouds overhead or the occasional drizzle that fell on us. We were cheered on by the sunny rays that busted through the clouds, from time to time.
Sights of Interest
The Wurzburg Residence, the Court Chapel (Hofkirche) and the Court Gardens (Hofgarten)
The Residence, built in the 18th century was home to the Prince-Bishops. An UNESCO World Heritage site, the Baroque and Rococo palace and its gardens can be reached on foot from the city centre. The Court Chapel too is an ornamental treat of Baroque and Rococo artwork. Both the Residence and the Court Chapel are open to the public at a cost. Guided tours are available in English and German. Tickets are priced at €7.50. Children under 18 years are admitted free but pets are not allowed. Photography is strictly prohibited.
Designed in Baroque style, the Court Gardens had me enthralled. Lined with roses, lush trees and canopy pathways you can easily spend a few hours in this beautiful garden. Sharply trimmed bushes and statues adorn the garden. Settle yourself down on one of the benches to enjoy the view and unrestricted clicks of your camera. Admission is free and the gardens are open from 08:00 AM to 08:00 PM.
Marienberg Fortress (Festung Marienberg)
The Fortress sits atop the hill on the left bank of the Main River. Dating back to the 16th century, it served as the former residence of the Prince-Bishops. It has a towering presence and definitely merits a visit. Guided walking tours in English are available from April to October on weekends and public holidays at 03:00 PM. A regular entrance fee costs €3.50. However, due to restoration work, certain areas have been temporarily closed. For great views and clicks of the city, walk along the outer wall.
The Fortress also houses the Museum Fur Franken which exhibits a vast collection of work by Tilman Riemenschneider, the medieval sculptor and woodcarver. At €5.00, guided tours on request can be arranged. Children can go free.
This iconic landmark is the perfect place for some of the best photo opportunities. It reflects the essence of the city; relaxed, carefree and amiable. Walk up the steps to this pedestrian bridge for a fantastic view of the Fortress, the Kappele (church) and the vineyards. Very soon you are distracted by the crowd, almost everyone with a glass of wine in their hands; chatting, strolling, laughing. A few lost in their own thoughts. Navigate through it all to walk along and you are captivated by the statues of the various saints lined up on either sides of the bridge. Make it to the end and return for your own glass of Franconian wine from the Meinwein Bistro. Watch the sun go down and lights come up on the Fortress and the Kappele on the hill.
Wurzburg Cathedral and other churches
Wurzburg boasts of some incredibly beautiful landmarks. The city is dotted with churches.
The Wurzburg Cathedral, dedicated to St. Kilian, right in the Marketplatz is worth a step inside.
The Kappele is perched on the hill and can be seen from afar.
Overlooking the Marketplatz is the Marienkapelle (St. Mary’s Chapel). It is an impressive structure in red and white. Unfortunately, the beauty has been marred by the market stalls around it.
The New Munster Church with its beautiful facade has a calming presence.
The Wine Trail
Take the wine trail up to the Fortress, along the steep hillside. A small one but you can enjoy the experience of being in a vineyard. At the start, you are captivated by the beautiful patch of yellow and green. So seemingly inviting and mysterious. Continue on to walk along the grape plantation, halting for pics or just to admire the view below of the river and the city. This walk is also a good excuse to burn the extra calories gained from the amount of food consumed 😄
Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus) and Market Square (Marketplatz)
In the humdrum of the city centre, a wonderful existence of old buildings. A regular site for farmers’ markets and wine festivals, it houses the old Town Hall and the Tourist Information Centre. Strewn with modern shops it has lost some of its charm but still a nice place to enjoy your ice-cream, bockwurst or steaming cup of coffee.
A walk along the River Main
Enjoy this walk by the river with the gentle evening breeze steering you along. The burble of water, ducks floating about, humans enjoying their pizza and drink, professional photographers lined up for their best shots, the pretty flowers along the pathway and much more enchanted us as we sauntered on accompanied by the constant chatter of our 11+ year old.
Boat trip to Veitshochheim and the Rococo Gardens
With more time / days in hand, take a cruise down the Main River past the vineyards to the town of Veitshochheim. In this quaint town is located the former summer residence of the Prince-Bishops. Stroll through the beautiful Rococo gardens or explore the town at your own pace until your return trip back to Wurzburg. Departs hourly at the boat pier in Wurzburg, approximately 40 minutes. A round trip costs €13 per adult and half the price for children.
For travellers who have done a Rhine River cruise or something similar, this might not be interesting enough. Having said that, you can relax your body and mind while enjoying the hospitality aboard the boat.
Experiences that made our trip memorable
The Wine Festival
If you are fortunate you get to be part of the many wine festivals in Wurzburg. We happened upon one on the last day of our stay. The Wurzburg Wine Village Festival, innumerable wine and local cuisine served under shaded gazebos. It has to be experienced first-hand; the beautiful lighting, the animated faces, the evening breeze, the high spirited voices. Everyone gathered together to enjoy life and the excellent wine.
I have to mention the unique shape of the wine bottles. Round and flattened, they are called Bocksbeutel.
Pizza by the river
Highly recommended by our Airbnb host and because our daughter can eat pizza at all times, one evening, we ordered ourselves one from the reputed Locanda Pizza and Pasta and sat by the river to enjoy our meal. Large portions, thought we would never finish it. A view that never gets tiring, by now the Fortress was lighted up leading a romantic feel to the evening. We polished off our pizza with small sips of wine and juice, respectively.
Hand-crafted ice-cream at Fontana Eiscafe
Airbnb apartment and host
Well located, we were at walking distance to the city centre and the city sights were easily covered on foot. The apartment was just perfect for our family of three with top notch amenities and 5 star cleanliness. Our host, a charming German gentleman, was always available and helpful.
Travel tip – When travelling by train to Wurzburg purchase the Bayern ticket (regional ticket). As mentioned in my earlier post, Making Travel Easy, regional tickets work out cheaper and cover all local and regional modes of transport.
Hope this piece stirs the traveller in you!!