Bamberg is one of Germany's most beautiful cities. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, it boasts around a thousand years of history as the home of emperors and bishops that has left its mark to this day.
The old town hall and the struggle between the spiritual and temporal realms
Alongside its imposing cathedral, splendid palace, the old bishop's court and picturesque half-timbered buildings, one of the most famous landmarks in Bamberg is the old town hall. This building sits proudly in the middle of the river, built on a foundation of hundreds of oak stakes driven into the ground. According to legend, the citizens of Bamberg were refused land for a town hall by the church. In a show of defiance, the citizens created their own land and built the town hall in the middle of the river Regnitz. Constructed in the 15th century, the original structure was built in the gothic style, with the characteristic baroque and rococo elements added in the 18th century. Of particular note are the vivid frescoes on the outer facade. If you look closely, you can even see a leg stretching out from one of the figures.
The Ludwig collection: priceless Meissner porcelain and Strasbourg faience
The old town hall is also home to the Ludwig collection, an incredible private collection of Meissner porcelain and Strasbourg faience from the 18th century. These delicate tea and coffee serving sets, together with valuable vessels, sculptures and decorations, reflect of the ostentatious culture of the baroque period and the development of the porcelain producers. For children, the museum offers special activities such as interactive discovery tours. There are also exciting activities for children's birthdays , including a spy hunt or a day as a prince or princess. More information, including opening times and entry prices can be found here.
Obere Brücke: the best way to see the sights of Bamberg
The Obere Brücke runs straight through the old town hall and offers an incredible all-round view of some of the city's most impressive sites. On the left-hand side is the charming and historic Mühlenviertel , together with the former prince-bishop's palace, the Geyerswörth city palace and the international artists' residence at Villa Concordia. To the right lies the picturesque row of houses known as Little Venice. The small historic fishermen's houses from the 15th and 16th centuries are squeezed together onto the bank of the river Regnitz. The best way to see the houses is from the river itself, either on a boat trip with the Christl or the more romantic option of an original Venetian gondola.
The old town of Bamberg: a historic gem
It's also worth exploring Bamberg on foot. The Franconian city has one of Europe's best-preserved old town centres with over 2,000 protected buildings .Bamberg boasts a unique mixture of splendid baroque architecture and medieval buildings. Both sides of the Obere Brücke offer intriguing winding alleyways that are just waiting to be discovered. Hidden down these lanes are countless tiny and unusual shops that invite visitors to browse, offering everything from extravagant fashion, and beautiful vintage items to stylish home accessories (the coffee and cake at the shop's cafe are worth the visit alone!). Just a few metres further, visitors can find delicate lace and bobbin (make sure to try the cakes in the café!), along with items of unique creativity.
And if you get hungry? A short walk from the old town hall is the Gasthaus Hofbräu, an art nouveau guesthouse offering modern Franconian cuisine. If you just need a snack, head to the historic Rathausschänke next to the bridge. Bamberg's first sausage restaurant offers a wide selection of sausages from local butchers. On the way back to the station, make sure to visit Café Riffelmacher just a few metres from the old town hall. It serves home-made ice cream, with both traditional flavours and some more unusual ones like lavender, rosewater or Japanese rice.
Take the train to Bamberg. The old town hall is around 20 minutes' walk from the train station. Leave the station through the main entrance and walk across the square. Cross over Ludwigstrasse and walk down Luitpoldstrasse until you reach the next major crossing with pedestrian traffic lights. Turn right here into Obere Königsstrasse and walk until turning left into Kettenbrückstrasse. Follow the street across the bridge, through the pedestrian precinct and weekly market stands until you reach a pedestrian crossing with traffic lights. Cross over Lange Strasse and then follow Obstmarkt uphill. This will take you directly to the Obere Brücke, from where it's just a few metres to the old town hall of Bamberg.