The Gulf of Naples is at home on the banks of the river Main: Aschaffenburg's Pompeiianum is a unique window onto the art and culture of the classical world. The archaeologically accurate reconstruction of a Roman villa houses temporary exhibitions and offers visitors tours about different topics.
Bavarian king Ludwig I was full of praise for the town of Aschaffenburg when he called it "Bavaria's Nice". He chose the town on the Main as his summer residence due to its mild climate, and as he had a taste for art, he set about enlarging it on a generous scale. The town has several remnants of this era, and one of them is the Pompeiianum. A reproduction of the Casa dei Dioscuri, a townhouse in Pompeii, the museum is set majectically above a vineyard along the banks of the river. The train is the perfect way to travel if you want to see the Pompeiianum, as it is located only ten minutes on foot from Aschaffenburg's main station.
Architecturally speaking, the building has a number of surprises in store for visitors. The building has almost no windows, so its natural lighting system is particularly noteworthy. Virtually all of the light is supplied via the two courtyards and the way it is reflected from the atrium, which is itself a minor work of art. Flanked by slender columns and paved with mosaics, this rectangular space – typical of Roman architecture – has ceilings painted with countless images of fantastical beasts.
The rooms display artefacts from a long-gone era. Among the permanent exhibition pieces are original bronze and marble statues from the Classical era, but there are also items used in everyday life and small artworks. Together, they present a vivid image of how the ancient Romans lived and what they believed in. Large frescos in the Pompeiian style recreate the sumptuous atmosphere of a Roman patricians' home. The museum regularly hosts special exhibitions as well, providing a welcome reason to visit the building time and again.
If you're interested in learning about the museum's exhibits in greater detail, it offers a wide range of introductory and topic-related tours for adults (fee-paying) and a free smartphone-based tour specially for children aged 6-10.
News, prices and opening hours are all available here.
If you visit the Pompeiianum, don't miss the viewing terrace on the second floor. The view is fantastic, with the impressive vista of the vineyards, the riverside promenade and the almost Mediterranean gardens. Strolling among the cedars, agaves, fig trees and almond trees, visitors can enjoy the gentle fragrances of southern Europe – the name "Bavarian Nice" is well-earned after all.
Just 13 minutes from the Pompeiianum, another impressive building awaits discovery: Johannisburg castle.
Enclosing a central courtyard, it is one of the most important Renaissance buildings in Germany, and it was the second home of the archbishops of Mainz until 1803. Please note: the castle is undergoing a thorough renovation that will probably last until 2020, so access to certain sections – the chapel, the bishop's chambers and the gallery – may be restricted or not possible at all. Make sure you check the website to find out what's open before you go. A perk for train travellers: Bayern-Ticket holders pay a reduced entrance price.
One thing will certainly be open, and it's a must: the world's largest collection of architectural models made of cork. Depicting ancient Roman buildings, the 45 scale models were assembled between 1792 and 1854.
The best way to finish your daytrip is with dinner at Weinstube Kitz, located roughly halfway between Pompeiianum and the station – you can more or less call in on your way home. Johannisburg castle is even closer – just five minutes away. With a historic atmosphere and upscale menu, the restaurant serves regional and seasonal specialities. The tavern opened in 1803 and is now a protected building in the heart of Aschaffenburg.
Train travellers to Aschaffenburg. It takes just under 10 minutes to walk from Aschaffenburg's main station to the Pompeiianum. Leave the station onto Ludwigstrasse, then turn right and follow the street for about 300 m. Go left at Kolpingstrasse. After a few minutes, cross Hanauerstrasse and keep going straight – the street is now called Karlstrasse. The street changes its name again to Kapuzinerplatz after about 50 m, but stay on it. It ends in a large green space that opens to the right. A small path leads across this. Follow it – the Pompejanum is located at the end.
To get to from the Pompeiianum to Weinstube Kitz, go back down the small path through the green space to Kapuzinerstrasse. Walk along it and go right at Karlsstrasse. Stay on Karlsstrasse for about 160 m. Go left when you get Erthalstrasse. Agathaplatz is located immediately on the other side of the street. Cross Erthalstrasse and walk along Agathaplatz to the junction with Treibgasse. Weinstube Kitz is located on the corner.
If you're starting at Johannisburg castle, cross Schlossplatz and follow Luitpoldstrasse for 130 m, as far as Treibgasse on the left. Walk down Treibgasse for 120 as far as the restaurant.
Our tip: Please make sure to check your train connection and the expected capacity before you start your journey.