Bamber Introduction Walking Tour, Bamberg

Bamber Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Bamberg

“Like a jewel gleaming upon the verdant crown of Germany,” the resplendent city of Bamberg is nestled amid the idyllic landscapes of the Upper Franconia region of Bavaria.

“The happy Bamberg” ("Das glückliche Bamberg"). This cheerful title is attributed to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who visited the city and expressed his admiration for it. And while this is not as widely recognized a quote as some others by the great German poet, it does reflect the sentiment of contentment and joy that Bamberg evokes in visitors.

Bamberg was founded in the 9th century AD and eventually became an important center of the Holy Roman Empire. It gained prominence when Emperor Henry II made it the center of his rule and established a bishopric here in 1007. The city flourished under the rule of the Prince-Bishops, who had both secular and ecclesiastical authority.

The name "Bamberg" is believed to have originated from the early medieval term "Babenberg", which is thought to be derived from the name of the Babenberch Castle, built on one of the seven hills of the city. Over time, the name evolved into "Bamberg."

During the Middle Ages, Bamberg emerged as a major trading hub, benefiting from its location on the western edge of a wide basin in the valley of the Regnitz River that flows into the Main seven kilometers downstream. The city grew rapidly and was known for its beer production. Beer is still a major part of the local cultural heritage. The famed smoked brew Rauchbier, in particular, consistently charms flocks of tourists who, once immersed in Bamberg's bewitching ambiance, cannot help but succumb to the siren song of its legendary Brewery District.

During World War II, Bamberg was spared significant damage and remained largely intact. The wonderfully preserved historic downtown area boasts an abundance of medieval architecture, cementing its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

One of the top sights in the charming Old Town is the majestic 11th-century Bamberg Cathedral (Bamberger Dom). Another prominent landmark, perched on top of Michaelsberg Hill, is the old Benedictine abbey of Michaelsberg. The spectacular riverside Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus) is a unique symbol of Bamberg. Poised gracefully on its island sanctuary, this is also among the city's biggest draws.

They say Bamberg is an opus etched by the hand of history which unfolds its tale of grandeur with each step upon its ground. Walking along the labyrinth of cobblestone streets here, ensconced by the embrace of ancient half-timbered facades, one is inevitably bound to engage in a captivating journey through time. If you wish to take it, embark on this self-guided exploration tour.
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Bamber Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Bamber Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Germany » Bamberg (See other walking tours in Bamberg)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 Km or 1.8 Miles
Author: nataly
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Maximiliansplatz (Maximilian Square)
  • Martinskirche (St. Martin's Church)
  • Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall)
  • Upper and Lower Bridges
  • Klein-Venedig (Little Venice)
  • Kloster Michaelsberg (Saint Michael's Abbey)
  • New Residence and Rose Garden
  • Old Court Hall and Historical Museum
  • Bamberg Cathedral and Square
  • Diözesanmuseum (Diocesan Museum)
Maximiliansplatz (Maximilian Square)

1) Maximiliansplatz (Maximilian Square)

Maximilian Square, affectionately known as "Max Square," is the largest and most significant square in Bamberg. It takes its name from King Maximilian I of Bavaria, who played a crucial role in the region's history. This square serves as a vibrant gathering place and holds great historical and cultural significance.

Originally, in the 15th century, the square was occupied by the Gothic church of Saint Martin. However, during the years of 1732-1737, the architectural ensemble that defines the square today took shape. On the left side of the square stands Saint Catherine's Hospital, while the former building of the theological seminary, which now houses the city administration since 1933, occupies the right side. This building is known as the "New Town Hall." With the closure and demolition of the church during the secularization in 1802, the square transformed into a spacious open area, becoming a venue for various city events.

One of the notable features of Maximilian Square is the magnificent Maximilians Fountain, created by Ferdinand Miller in 1888. The centerpiece of the fountain is a bronze statue of King Maximilian I of Bavaria (1756-1825), renowned for his reform and educational endeavors. The fountain's bowl is surrounded by an intricate cast-iron fence adorned with four statues of significant and legendary figures.

Among the statues, one represents Henry II (973-1024), the founder of the Diocese of Bamberg. Another depicts his wife, Kunigunde of Luxembourg, widely known as Saint Kunigunde (980-1033). Additionally, there is a statue of Bishop Otto I of Bamberg (1060-1139) and one of King Conrad III (1093-1152), who was both born and laid to rest in Bamberg.

Maximilian Square offers a picturesque setting for various events and activities throughout the year. However, it truly comes alive during the festive month of December when the square transforms into a magical Christmas market. Visitors and locals alike gather here to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere, browse the stalls filled with seasonal treats and gifts, and immerse themselves in the joyful spirit of the holiday season.
Martinskirche (St. Martin's Church)

2) Martinskirche (St. Martin's Church)

Saint Martin's Church has a rich history rooted in its origins as a Carmelite monastery established in 1248. In 1589, the diocese of Bamberg made the decision to relocate the monks from the deteriorating monastery buildings to the vacant Cistian monastery of Saint Mary and Theodore on the opposite bank of the Regnitz River. This move opened up space for the Jesuit order, who took over the site with the commitment to construct a grand new church.

The construction of Saint Martin's Church commenced in 1686 under the supervision of Georg Dinzenhofer, an architect from Prague. After Georg's passing, his brother Leonard took over the project. The church was designed in the Baroque style, incorporating elements reminiscent of Rome's renowned church, Jesus Christ. The construction was completed by 1696, and the church was consecrated in accordance with Jesuit tradition, also bearing the name of Jesus Christ. Three years later, the bell tower was added to the structure.

In the early 19th century, during the secularization period, Saint Martin's Church underwent a significant change in ownership. In 1806, the church was transferred from the order to the city, transforming it into a parish church and renaming it St. Martin.

Saint Martin's Church stands as an architectural marvel, exemplifying the Baroque style with its ornate features and grandeur. It holds the legacy of the Jesuit order and continues to serve as a place of worship for the local community. The church's transformation from a monastery to a parish church reflects the historical shifts in religious ownership and practices over the centuries.
Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall)

3) Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall) (must see)

The true highlight that awaits you in Bamberg's Old Town is the magnificent Old Town Hall. Perched somewhat precariously in the middle of the bridge, it stands as one of Bavaria's most photographed historic landmarks and is widely acclaimed as one of Germany's top tourist attractions. While a town hall had already occupied this site since 1386, the current structure was rebuilt between 1744 and 1756.

The Old Town Hall is a stunning example of architecture, particularly notable for the exquisite frescoes that adorn its facades. These vibrant paintings depict a fascinating tale that explains the peculiar decision to construct the building on an island. Stepping inside, you will be greeted by further delights, including the beautiful old Rococo hall, a testament to the splendid craftsmanship of the era. Additionally, the Ludwig Collection housed within the Old Town Hall showcases over 300 exquisite 18th-century pieces, such as animal-shaped tureens, figurines, and dinner services crafted from porcelain.

If you happen to visit during the Christmas season, a visit to the Old Town Hall becomes even more special. The Ludwig Collection unveils an impressive nativity scene composed of approximately 400 porcelain figures, evoking the spirit of the holiday season. Similar enchanting displays can be found in many of the city's top tourist attractions, with some of the finest examples showcased at the Bamber Nativity Museum. This charming museum, although small in size, hosts a captivating collection of antique cribs and Christmas exhibits, adding an extra touch of wonder to your visit.

The Old Town Hall in Bamberg offers not only architectural splendor and historical significance but also the opportunity to immerse yourself in the festive charm of the city during the holiday season. From its breathtaking frescoes to the remarkable Ludwig Collection, this iconic landmark invites you to discover the rich cultural heritage and captivating stories that lie within its walls.

Open year round, 24/7.
Upper and Lower Bridges

4) Upper and Lower Bridges

The Upper Bridge holds a significant place in the city's history and architecture. It is one of the two bridges that connect the banks of the Regnitz River to the island on which the Old Town Hall stands. The bridge's name derives from its location upstream in the direction of the river's flow, distinguishing it from the Lower Bridge.

A statue of Saint Cunegonde of Luxembourg stands in the central part of the Lower Bridge. She was the first wife of Holy Roman Emperor Henry II, and her marriage to him marked the beginning of the German monarchy. When her husband fell seriously ill and eventually passed away, Cunegonde took on the responsibility of managing the state. Her fair rule and care for her subjects earned her a reputation as a just ruler.

In 1007, Cunegonde received Bamberg as a wedding gift from her husband, who established a bishopric in the city to promote Christianity in the Eastern lands. Due to this significant event, Bamberg became known as "Franconian Rome." Cunegonde used her personal funds, including her widow's inheritance, for the betterment of the city and its inhabitants.

The statue of Saint Cunegonde on the Upper Bridge is a replica of one of the six statues of saints that adorned the bridge before the devastating flood of 1784. This flood destroyed the original bridge but left a lasting impact on the city and its architecture.

Legend has it that Saint Cunegonde saved Bamberg from bombing during World War II. It is believed that she enveloped the city in a cloak of mists to protect it from allied aircraft. Although the bridge itself was destroyed during the war, Bamberg and its neighborhoods suffered less damage compared to many other German cities. As a result, Bamberg was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, preserving its cultural and historical significance.
Klein-Venedig (Little Venice)

5) Klein-Venedig (Little Venice)

Little Venice is a charming former fishing village that captivates visitors with its picturesque setting. Situated along the left bank of the Regnitz River, Little Venice is a row of historic residential buildings dating back to the 17th century. It serves as a delightful backdrop for the lively jousting tournaments held during the Sandkerwa festival in August, which is Bamberg's largest folk festival.

The buildings in Little Venice are adorned with long wooden balconies that once served a practical purpose for the local fishermen. These balconies provided ample space for the fishermen to hang their nets and fishing gear, allowing them to dry in the open air. Given the limited space for gardens in this area, the balconies played a vital role in supporting the daily activities of the fishing community.

Throughout its history, the district of Little Venice has experienced occasional flooding due to its close proximity to the Regnitz River. One significant flood occurred in 1784, leaving an imprint on the neighborhood's past. However, the construction of a weir in the Bug district has since prevented such catastrophic events, ensuring the safety and preservation of the area.

In earlier times, Little Venice was also home to a bustling fish market, adding to the vibrancy of the district. However, in recent years, the fish market has been discontinued. Nevertheless, visitors can still appreciate the beauty of Little Venice by embarking on one of the passenger ships that offer round trips along the river. These boat tours provide an enchanting perspective of the charming buildings and allow visitors to soak in the serene ambiance of this idyllic corner of Bamberg.
Kloster Michaelsberg (Saint Michael's Abbey)

6) Kloster Michaelsberg (Saint Michael's Abbey) (must see)

Located atop one of the seven hills that grace the enchanting town of Bamberg, stands the awe-inspiring St. Michael's Monastery. This magnificent structure holds a rich history as the former Benedictine abbey of Michael's Mountain.

With its origins dating back to the year 1015, a visit to Saint Michael's Abbey offers a captivating experience. The highlight is undoubtedly the Saint Michael's Church, a remarkable example of 12th-century architecture. As you step inside, your eyes are drawn to the exquisite ceiling adorned with paintings depicting various medicinal herbs. This unique artistic touch adds an element of beauty and fascination to the religious space.

In addition to the church, the abbey complex includes newer buildings that were erected between 1696 and 1702. These Baroque structures are a testament to the architectural grandeur of the time, and they seamlessly blend with the existing monastery, creating a harmonious ensemble.

When exploring the monastery, make sure to venture to the terrace situated behind the church. From this vantage point, you will be rewarded with panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. The sight of Bamberg and its picturesque charm sprawling beneath you is a breathtaking experience that showcases the abbey's elevated position.

As you continue your journey through the monastery grounds, take a moment to immerse yourself in the beauty of the old Baroque terraced garden. Adorned with a delightful fountain and pavilions, the garden provides a serene atmosphere to relax and appreciate the tranquility of the surroundings. Access to this delightful oasis can be gained via the Benedictine Path, which adds an extra touch of enchantment to your exploration of St. Michael's Abbey.
New Residence and Rose Garden

7) New Residence and Rose Garden (must see)

The New Residence stands as a remarkable historic building in the heart of Bamberg. It once served as the residence for the archbishops of the Bamberg ecclesiastical Principality, and today it houses the state gallery, library, and a charming rose garden nestled between its wings.

The Bamberg State Gallery showcases nearly 50 halls and rooms that span the late 17th and 18th centuries, featuring a diverse range of artistic styles. Visitors can admire art treasures spanning over four centuries, including more than 500 pieces of furniture, paintings, sculptures, and textile art. The Bamberg State Library, located in the east wing of the New Residence, occupies halls that have retained their stucco and frescoes from the former residence. The library holds a rich collection of books and manuscripts, providing a glimpse into the intellectual and cultural heritage of Bamberg.

The construction of the New Residence spanned more than a century and took place in two stages. The rear part of the residence, featuring two wings in the Renaissance style, was built under Prince-Bishop Johann Philipp von Gebzattel starting in 1602. The front part, characterized by Baroque architecture, was erected from 1697 to 1703 under the leadership of Prince-Bishop Lothar Franz von Schoenborn with the assistance of Leonard Dinzenhofer.

Initially serving as the residence of the Prince-Bishops of Bamberg until 1802, the New Residence underwent a change in ownership during secularization and became a royal residence for the Bavarian Wittelsbachs in 1803. Today, the building stands as one of Bamberg's main attractions. Its interconnected wings, crafted from sandstone, create an elongated zigzag structure adorned with architectural portals and subtle embellishments.

Between the wings of the New Residence lies a beautiful rose garden. This Baroque garden, created in the 18th century, replaced a Renaissance garden that previously stood on the site. Under the patronage of Prince-Bishop Friedrich Karl von Schönborn, the garden was meticulously designed by the talented Balthasar Neumann. The garden's symmetrical layout reflects the baroque concept of a modern garden, with carefully arranged sections that exude elegance and harmony. As summer arrives, approximately 4,500 roses burst into bloom, creating a breathtaking spectacle. Framed by majestic lime trees and accompanied by an exquisite garden pavilion, the garden becomes an enchanting symphony of baroque magnificence. To further enhance the garden's ambiance, sculptures crafted by the esteemed Bamberg court sculptor Ferdinand Tietz in 1760/61 gracefully accompany the vibrant roses, adding an extra touch of artistic grandeur.

Within the garden pavilion, a serene café awaits, providing a tranquil setting to rest and savor a refreshing drink. This inviting oasis offers a moment of respite, allowing visitors to unwind and take in the surrounding beauty.
Old Court Hall and Historical Museum

8) Old Court Hall and Historical Museum

Nestled in the heart of Bamberg stands the timbered marvel known as the Old Court, which is widely acclaimed as one of the most splendid achievements of the German Renaissance. Originally constructed in 1576 as the Bishop's palace, this architectural gem now houses the esteemed Historical Museum of Bamberg. Within its walls, visitors are treated to a remarkable display of applied and decorative art, showcasing the region's rich cultural heritage.

One of the highlights of the Old Court is the renowned "Beautiful Gateway." Crafted by the skilled sculptor Pankras Wagner, this sculpted masterpiece captures the imagination with its portrayal of Saints Peter, George, and Heinrich set against the picturesque backdrop of the Main and Regnitz rivers. The intricacy and artistry of this piece serve as a testament to the skill and creativity of the Renaissance era.

Beyond the "Beautiful Gateway," an enchanting journey awaits within the romantic inner courtyard of the Old Court. The courtyard boasts charming half-timbered buildings that exude an irresistible allure. Today, it serves as a vibrant venue for outdoor concerts, filling the air with melodic notes and adding to the enchanting atmosphere of this historic space.

As you explore further, take the opportunity to visit the two captivating chapels housed within the Old Court, including the notable Saint Catherine's Chapel. These sacred spaces offer a captivating glimpse into the Christian faith in Bamberg and can be included as part of a guided tour. The intricate details and serene ambiance of the chapels provide a unique perspective on the religious and cultural heritage of the city.

Historical Museum
Bamberg Cathedral and Square

9) Bamberg Cathedral and Square (must see)

The Bamberg Cathedral is a magnificent church constructed in the 13th century. The cathedral serves as the seat of the Archbishop of Bamberg and is administered by the Roman Catholic Church. It holds great historical and cultural significance, being designated as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Town of Bamberg" since 1993.

The cathedral's origins can be traced back to its founding in 1002 by King Heinrich II (Henry II), who later became Emperor. It was consecrated in 1012, and within its walls lie the tombs of Henry II and his wife Cunigunde. They are the only imperial couple to have been canonized, making their resting place of great importance. Additionally, the cathedral houses the sole papal grave in Germany and north of the Alps, that of Pope Clement II (1005–1047).

Having experienced two fires in the 11th and 12th centuries, the current Bamberg Cathedral was constructed in the 13th century in a late Romanesque style. It boasts four impressive towers and has dimensions of approximately 94 meters in length, 28 meters in width, and 26 meters in height. Each of the four towers reaches a height of about 81 meters. The interior of the cathedral is adorned with numerous artistic masterpieces, including the renowned marble tomb of its founder, Henry II, and his wife Kunigunde. This masterpiece, sculpted by Tilman Riemenschneider between 1499 and 1513, is a sight to behold.

Another notable treasure housed within the cathedral is the Bamberg Horseman, an equestrian statue that dates back to the period between 1225 and 1237. This striking statue, believed to depict the Hungarian king Stephen I, is a remarkable example of medieval sculpture.

In addition to the cathedral, the Cathedral Square is adorned with two remarkable architectural gems. The Renaissance buildings of the Old Court and the Baroque New Residence stand proudly in front of the square. These palaces served as the residences for the bishops from the 15th century to 1602 and from 1602 to 1803, respectively.

Originally referred to as Courtyard Square or Castle Square, the square underwent a name change to Karolinen Square after secularization, in honor of Queen Karoline of Bavaria. However, it was not until 1949 that the area officially became known as Cathedral Square, encompassing not only the immediate surroundings of the cathedral but the entire square. This change in nomenclature reflects the significance and centrality of the cathedral within the architectural ensemble and the recognition of Cathedral Square as a distinct and cherished historical space in Bamberg.

Diözesanmuseum (Diocesan Museum)

10) Diözesanmuseum (Diocesan Museum)

The Diocesan Museum stands as a treasure trove of artifacts from the rich episcopal history of the region. Founded by Emperor Heinrich II and his consort Kunigunde, the diocese was adorned with precious liturgical items, relics, paraments, and books. Over the centuries, these treasures grew through generous donations, but also suffered losses during periods of secularization. However, since 1966, the Diocesan Museum has housed numerous valuable items that provide a glimpse into Bamberg's ecclesiastical past.

The museum's most notable attraction is its internationally renowned collection of medieval textiles. Among them is the famed imperial cloak that once graced the shoulders of Emperor Heinrich II and Kunigunde, as well as the Gunther Cloth and Clemens II's papal regalia. These textiles represent the opulence and grandeur of the era, showcasing exquisite craftsmanship and artistic mastery.

In addition to the textiles, the Diocesan Museum features a diverse array of liturgical items. Among them is a 12th-century Easter candlestick, a portable altar from the same period, goblets, ostensories, crucifixes, and an 18th-century silver procession madonna. The museum also proudly exhibits parts of Veit Stoß's altar, statues from the Gothic era, and baroque ostensories crafted for the likenesses of Heinrich and Kunigunde. These remarkable pieces offer a deeper understanding of the religious devotion and artistic expression of their time.

Exploring the museum further, visitors will encounter the ground floor, where remnants of the baroque cathedral interior are displayed. These remnants provide a glimpse into the architectural and artistic grandeur of the past, offering insights into the religious practices and cultural heritage of the region. Testimonies to popular piety can also be found, ranging from rosaries and votive images to procession staffs, further enriching the museum's collection.

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles