tips for excursions

A day in Würzburg

Once the home of a prince-bishop, Würzburg is now one of Germany's top 10 towns.

Würzburg is one of Germany's best cities, but it's not just us and the town's 126,000 inhabitants who say this – business magazine WirtschaftsWoche thinks so too. The publication took a look at quality of life in Germany's towns and cities, and Würzburg earned itself a place in the top 10, scoring higher than Hamburg. In other words, the university town is certainly worth a visit – or even a tour, because it's full of things to see.

First place on the sightseeing bucket list: take a stroll across the Old Main Bridge. Built in 1703, the stone bridge is 185 m long and is one of Germany's most beautiful. With its impressive statues of saints, each of which is 4.5 m high, it will definitely remind you of the Charles Bridge in Prague. It's also the site of a particularly enjoyable tradition, Brückenschoppen, when scores of bars and restaurants come to the bridge to sell local wine in Schoppen glasses (0.25 l) to residents and tourists alike. With your glass in your hand, linger for a moment on the bridge and enjoy the view of the river Main. With a bit of luck, you'll get to hear one of the many buskers and musicians who often play here by the water.

Leaving the bridge, continue your visit at the town hall, located just 2 minutes' walk away. It's actually a group of several buildings from different eras, and the Grafeneckart section is a must for visitors. This part of the complex dates back to the 13th century, making it one of the oldest structures in the city. Its 55 m tower is visible from far and wide.

Another building you should make a detour to see is the palace of the former prince-bishop, known as the Residence. It is considered to be one of Germany's most beautiful Baroque palaces, and even one of the most important palaces in Europe. Inscribed in UNESCO's list of world heritage sites as early as 1981, the imposing building is 300 years old, albeit reconstructed in some places. Much of it was completely gutted by fire in 1945. Today, visitors can admire 40 different rooms with period fittings such as original furniture, artworks and textiles. A special highlight is the imperial hall (Kaisersaal) with its mirrors and breathtaking stucco ceiling. UNESCO described it as the "most perfect example of a room ensemble in the Rococo style".

Last, but by no means least, you should pay a visit to the cathedral. Constructed in 1040, it has dominated the city's skyline ever since thanks to its height. It is described as Germany's fourth-largest Romanesque church, but admirers of Baroque and Rococo architecture are in for a treat as well: the adjoining Schönborn chapel is a creation of the famous architect Balthasar Neumann, who worked in both styles. You have to sign up for a tour of the cathedral if you'd like to see the chapel, which is the burial place of the prince-bishops from the aristocratic Schönborn family.

Taking in so many sights might leave you with a head full of memories, but your stomach could well be empty. If Italian food sounds like a good idea, go to the restaurant Capri Blaue Grotte. Located in Elefantengasse 1, it opened in 1952 and is believed to be Germany's oldest pizzeria. Its prices are certainly good.

Getting here:

Route to Blaue Grotte

The pizzeria is 20 minutes' walk from the main station. Outside the station building, walk down the right-hand side of the forecourt and walk straight towards a small square (Kaisergärtchen) across the large street ahead of you, Haugerring. Cross this street and keep going straight, along Kaiserstrasse. After about 600 m, you will come to a corner with Juliuspromenade to your right. Walk down Juliuspromenade for 240 m until you reach a large junction. Cross here, keeping to the left to reach Mainkai, and walk straight on. The Old Main Bridge appears on your left after 400 m, and the street's name changes to Oberer Mainkai once you pass it. Stay on Oberer Mainkai until you see Reibeltgasse on the left. Go left down Rebeltgasse and, at the end, go right at Sanderstrasse. Elefantengasse is the first street on the left. This is where the pizzeria is located.

Route to the Residence

The palace is 15 minutes' walk from the main station. Outside the station building, walk down the left-hand side of the side of the forecourt and walk straight towards a small square (Kaisergärtchen) across the large street ahead of you, Haugerring. Cross this street and keep going straight, along Bahnhofstrasse. After 280 m, the street changes its name to Textorstrasse. Continue along Textorstrasse until you reach the end, then go right at Semmelstrasse. This joins Theaterstrasse almost immediately. Go left where Semmelstrasse and Theaterstrasse and keep walking until you reach Residenzplatz, about 240 m away.

Way to the Old Main Bridge

The bridge is 18 minutes' walk from the main station. Outside the station building, walk down the right-hand side of the forecourt and walk straight towards a small square (Kaisergärtchen) across the large street ahead of you, Haugerring. Cross this street and keep going straight, along Kaiserstrasse. After about 600 m, you will come to a corner with Juliuspromenade to your right. Walk down Juliuspromenade for 240 m until you reach a large junction. Cross here, keeping to the left to reach Mainkai, and walk straight on. The Old Main Bridge appears on your left after 400 m.

Way to Würzburg's cathedral

The cathedral is 15 minutes' walk from the main station. Outside the station building, walk down the left-hand side of the side of the forecourt and walk straight towards a small square (Kaisergärtchen) across the large street ahead of you, Haugerring. Cross this street and keep going straight along Kaiserstrasse you reach Barbarossaplatz at the end. Cross this junction and, on the opposite side, walk down Oberthürstrasse. At the end, turn right at Eichhornstrasse. The third street on your left is Martinstrasse. Go left here: it brings you straight to the cathedral.

Way to Grafeneckart building

This section of the town hall is 16 minutes' walk from the main station. Outside the station building, walk down the right-hand side of the forecourt and walk straight towards a small square (Kaisergärtchen) across the large street ahead of you, Haugerring. Cross this street and keep going straight, along Kaiserstrasse. After about 600 m, you will come to a corner with Juliuspromenade to your right. Walk down Juliuspromenade for 240 m until you reach a large junction. Take the very first to the left – Karmelitenstrasse – and follow it until you get to Grafeneckart after about 240 m.

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