Tuesday

Travel Germany. Treasure Island: Visit Bamberg in Southern Germany

The sky is blue for days on end. Where the River Regnitz and the River Main in Bavaria meet, a town spreads out over seven hills. In 1007 Henry II, Holy Roman Emporer had massive plans with Bamberg, he wanted it to be the new Rome and there was a church on each of the seven hills. You reach Bamberg if you drive 200 kilometres to the north from Munich, 300 kilometres to the west from Prague and 600 kilometres to the south from Luebeck.


After walking around for a while I have the feeling there are leaning facades and crooked red roof-tops everywhere. Luckily for all fans of history and medieval architecture new developments won’t be in your way when you stroll through the streets of Bamberg. Bamberg is a slow town; it is very historical but not fuddy-duddy. The city was spared in WW2, and there are plenty of properties surviving from the medieval period, with a mix of ecclesiastical and secular buildings that are preserved to this day. When you are here you’ll find that nearly everything shines in medieval glory, and with its authentic medieval street layout the town became UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Ever since I was a child I wanted to walk through a fairy tale. Here in the largest intact preserved historical town centre in Germany I realize this dream. It pays
to walk to see the architecture. A car isn’t needed at all, and would probably be a hindrance. With all these small oneway-streets driving around town might be rather complicated.

In total there are 2,500 heritage listed buildings in Bamberg and when you walk around, spend a bit of time to study smaller details on town- and farmhouses. In addition to the churches and the town hall they are monuments of importance too. Stone crests or old doors are pretty to look at and each one tells a story of artisans who lived and worked here. 






The Town's Heart is an Island - 10 Pretty Things to See in Bamberg

The Old Town Hall. I arrived when dusk fell and in the twilight I found the town hall to be sitting cheekily in the middle of a river. The River Regnitz is the boundary between the bourgeois city and the episcopal mountain and on an island in that river sits the Town Hall. Legend has it that the location on the island is a result of rivalry between the citizens and the bishop. When the bishop didn’t want to make room for the planned new building, the citizens simply piled up an artificial island as building site. 


Little Venice. Ever since the 14th century trade ships went downstream the River Main and the River Rhine all the way to the Netherlands and the North Sea. The area along the river Regnitz is called Little Venice for all its small and picturesque building close to the water. The boat- and fishermen who lived and worked here traded with The Netherlands but together with the millers they were also made accountable for freeing the River Regnitz from ice in winter. Here you can even go for a ride in an authentic Venetian gondola.



Mohren Haus. The house was first mentioned in 1444, and ever since 1637 it is known under the name "To the Moor” because of the Moor that looks down from the sandstone facade. The classical furnishing of the tea shop at the entrance from 1810 is heritage listed. It took a few hours to browse all clothes, home accessories, handbags and delicatessen on offer in this charming and welcoming store. There are many fair trade and organic products. I also took the time to drink an espresso on the second level. I went here twice during my time in Bamberg, since I loved the store so much.

I find the name of the store strange, it is not appropriate but judgmental. The Moor is here still portrayed as someone who is different and exotic from others. The idea of the luxurious life at the courts of oriental sultans still holds a great fascination for many people. The term "Moor" is associated with colonialism and racism, and on the facade there is the cliché character of a black man with big eyes and lips only dressed in a straw skirt. It is only a name right. No. It hurts to see that apparently no one cares about this.

Info Mohren-Haus. Edith Papritz GmbH Obere Brücke 14. 96047 Bamberg. Hours: Monday/Tuesday 9:30am to 6pm. Wednesday, 9am to 6pm. Thursday/Friday 9:30am to 7pm. Saturday, 9:30am to 6pm. Sunday, Closed. Please visit the website for more.

Centurione by Polish artist Igor Mitoraj.  See this large-scale bronze statue by artist Igor Mitoraj near the river Regnitz. “I feel that a piece of arm or a leg speak far more strongly than a whole body” the artist once said. Standing next to the disembodied and fractured head, in the middle of picture perfect Bamberg, once more I understand that beauty isn’t everything, and that there is always a price to pay.

Info. Centurione I. Untere Bruecke, 96047 Bamberg. 


Browse the Sandgebiet. The alleys and streets around Sandstrasse are referred to as Sand. The area extends from the Dominikanergasse to Markus bridge. Go here to find antique stores, cafes and bars.

The store Die Blume Bamberg is an enchanting little flower store that you need to see, it really is the cutest little store ever. Napkins, wooden hearts, owls, candle holders, cake stands, baskets with flowers. This is the place if you would like to learn how to decorate your home in true Bavarian country style.

Info Blume Bamberg. Untere Brücke 7, 96049 Bamberg. Hours: Monday to Friday 10am to 6pm. Saturday 10am to 4pm.


Böttingerhaus. This city palais on Judenstraße is one of the most important baroque bourgeois buildings in southern Germany. Today it is an art gallery.

Info Böttingerhaus.Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 10am–6pm. Saturday 10am–4pm. Sunday, Monday Closed. Please visit the website for more.

Farmers Market. Visit the Bamberger farmers market, and eat your way through local fruits and vegetables, honey, liqueurs, cheeses and dairy spreads, bread, cakes and pastries. About half of the products on the market are produced organically.

Info Farmers Market. Promenade, 96047 Bamberg. Hours: Saturday mornings 8am to 1pm.

The Romanesque Bamberg Cathedral (St. Peter and St. George) on Cathedral Hill is one of the German imperial cathedrals. Due to its four towers it is easy to spot from pretty much everywhere in Bamberg's Old Town.

The New Residence was built in two phases between 1613 and 1703. The 40 state rooms are equipped with stucco ceilings, furniture and tapestries from the 17th and 18th century. The rooms illustrate the high Baroque period and are a monument Frankish, Bavarian and German history.

The cathedral square with the Romanesque-Gothic Cathedral and the rose garden behind the New Residence is certainly one of the prettiest squares in Europe.   



Bamberg - The End
 
I was so lucky with the weather, but I can imagine it to be pretty in the snow too or when it rains, imagine how magical the cobblestoned streets will look. 

Please note: If you would like to browse the little stores in town, don’t visit on a Sunday, bear in mind that stores are closed, it is the legal situation in Germany (there are exceptions to this rule, but I'd better not count on it).

Do you like it? Can't wait to hear from you. Do you like Bavaria? Travel on and read How to get rosy cheeks: Vigour. Hiking. Herbs. Passion at Rehlegg in Bavaria.

From Berlin with love

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Greetings stranger. I always try to be myself and to be a tourist as often as I can. I would love to get in contact with lots of hard travelling tourists who love to be out and about as much as I do. I am looking forward to all your comments. Thanks so much in advance.