A city walk for connoisseurs and culture lovers
Our tip: Please make sure to check your train connection and the expected capacity before you start your journey.
Already at the main railway station, beautiful Würzburg welcomes you with a pretty green area and the Kilian Fountain. The apostle of Franconia, Kilian, is facing the city with his blessing. You follow his blessing and cross the Röntgenring. Straight ahead begins the wide pedestrian zone of Kaiserstraße. After 300 metres, at Barbarossaplatz, turn right into Juliuspromenade. Another 100 metres further on, you slip through the archway on the right and reach the impressive inner courtyard of the Juliusspital.
Prince Bishop Julius Echter founded the hospital in 1576 for "the poor, worn-out and destitute people, including old, sick, sickly and abandoned people".
After the rather plain street front, the imposing baroque building surprises in the inner courtyard. The princely building from 1699 was designed by Antonio Petrini, who is known for combining Italian Baroque with German Renaissance and introducing Franconian Baroque. The rococo pharmacy in the eastern wing has been preserved in its original form and is still part of the hospital. In the passage to the garden, the relief from the 16th century figuratively shows the tasks of the foundation. The garden pavilion was used as an anatomical institute until 1854. The fountain in the garden represents the four Franconian rivers Main, Sinn, Saale and Tauber.
Underneath the Fürstenbau is the 250-metre-long wine cellar of the winery. Prince Bishop Julius Echter had endowed the charitable foundation with vineyards, forest and farmland when it was founded. To this day, the proceeds from the winery help finance the social tasks. The wines of the hospital and specialities of Franconian cuisine are served in the Juliusspital wine taverns right next door.
Continue along Juliuspromenade and turn left at the next opportunity into Schönbornstraße. Pass the monastery church of the Augustinian Order on the right to the market square.
Strictly speaking, the market square consists of the smaller Upper Market and the larger Lower Market.
At the Häcker fountain on the Upper Market - Häcker is the Franconian term for winegrower - the lavishly decorated rococo façade of the Falkenhaus is striking. Originally the cathedral priest lived here, in 1629 it became an inn. At that time there were no street names, the building was called "Haus zum Falken". In 1751, the innkeeper Meißner had it decorated with magnificent stucco by Upper Bavarian stucco artists. She had two reasons: Firstly, the eye-catching façade advertised her inn from then on. On the other hand, the landlady received a tax exemption for seven years, because according to a fire protection decree of the prince-bishop, all houses clad in the Baroque style were to receive tax relief. Today, the Tourist Information Centre and the town library are housed here.
In the Middle Ages, the Jewish community settled around a swamp on the Unterer Markt. After a pogrom in 1339, in which the Jewish quarter burned down, the citizens built the Marienkapelle in 1377 in place of the synagogue as atonement. Inside are numerous tombs of Franconian knights and wealthy citizens. A memorial plaque indicates the burial place of the famous Baroque architect Balthasar Neumann. The portal figures of Adam and Eve were created by the famous sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider.
From the Marienkapelle, go straight on into Marktgasse and after 50 metres turn left into Gressengasse. There you will pass Würzburg's oldest inn, the "Stachel". This is where the rebels met during the Peasants' War in 1525 under the leadership of Götz von Berlichingen and Florian Geyer. As a sign of their meeting, they hung the morning star - in Franconian: Stachel - out of the window.
Go straight ahead along Langgasse to the town hall and the Vierröhrenbrunnen (four-tube fountain).
Today's town hall is made up of buildings from different eras. The so-called Red Building was built during the Renaissance. The oldest part, however, is the Grafeneckart. Its origins go back to a family tower around 1180. The building was given its name in the 12th century by a castle mayor who lived here.
For over 700 years, the town has used this building as its town hall. In the middle of the 15th century, the tower was built to 55 metres and the clock was installed. A watchman lived in the tower to keep an eye out for fires and to ring the storm bell in case of alarm. The most important and oldest room is the Wenceslas Hall. King Wenceslas, the King of Bohemia, had promised the people of Würzburg the freedom of the empire they had long longed for, but revoked this shortly afterwards.
On the ground floor of the town hall, a memorial room with a model of the destroyed Würzburg commemorates 16 March 1945, when more than 80 per cent of Würzburg's old town was reduced to rubble within 20 minutes. Around 5000 people died.
A lime tree once stood in front of the Grafeneckart, under which the council held court. When it fell in the 16th century, its image was unceremoniously painted on the façade to indicate that court was being held in the town hall.
The lime tree was replaced by the four-tube fountain. It was the first functioning fountain with running water in the city. Before that, the water, which was usually not very healthy, had been drawn from wells. Balthasar Neumann had the pipes laid in the course of his building work for the residence in the city. The fountain in its present form was built in 1766 and features figurative representations of the four cardinal virtues of wisdom, justice, temperance and fortitude, which one would have liked to see on the city fathers in the town hall.
Beim Grafeneckart 1
From the town hall, walk quietly a few steps in the direction of the Main. The ramp at the Eiscafé Fontana leads you to the Old Main Bridge. Here you can enjoy a bridge drink and a view of the river and some of the city's sights, not only on warm summer evenings. First and foremost, of course, the Marienberg Fortress, which towers a hundred metres above the city.
From the old Marienbrücke bridge, head towards the cathedral. The approximately 300-metre-long Domstraße was a marketplace in the Middle Ages and is now a busy shopping street.
Halfway down the street, Sternplatz is on the right. The "Sternbäck" is a reminder of the centuries-old tradition of the Bäcks, a special kind of wine tavern in Würzburg. Because bakeries did not offer food in the past, but usually Franconian wine from their own vineyards, guests were allowed to bring their own food. Nowadays, most bakeries have a menu.
Opposite Sternplatz, take one of the old craftsmen's alleys. After 50 metres on the right across Schmalzmarkt, you will see the baroque display façade of Neumünster straight ahead. A small, inconspicuous grey door leads into the crypt of the church to the modern burial shrine of the three Franconian apostles Kilian, Kolonat and Totnan, destination of the pilgrimage to St. Kilian, which is still important in Franconia today.
A few steps down to the right and you are at the cathedral forecourt, from where you reach Kiliansplatz through the passage between the cathedral and the Museum am Dom. The entrance to the cathedral on the right is barrier-free.
The fourth largest Romanesque church in Germany is dedicated to the patron saint of the diocese, the Frankish martyr Kilian. The present building is already the third church on this site and was built between the years 1040 and 1075 under Bishops Bruno and Adalbero.
The mighty interior surprises with its interesting mixture of art and architectural styles from Romanesque to modern. Worthy of note are the funerary monuments of the Würzburg prince-bishops set up on the pillars of the nave, especially the sculptures of Rudolph von Scherenberg and Lorenz von Bibra created by Tilman Riemenschneider.
In the centre of the nave of the church, the Romanesque baptismal font stands out, on the large gallery on the west side of the nave, the mighty Klais organ with its 87 stops and 6652 pipes. The valuable cathedral pulpit with the four evangelists at the foot was designed by Michael Kern in the Renaissance style at the beginning of the 17th century. In the left transept is the entrance to the Schönborn family burial chapel designed by Balthasar Neumann.
From the cathedral it is only a few steps to the back of the Neumünster. In its Lusamgärtchen, a memorial stone commemorates the minnesinger Walther von der Vogelweide, who is believed to have been buried here in 1230.
At the Lusamgärtchen exit, turn right along Martinstrasse and Hofstrasse, past the Schönborn Chapel and the stately Domherrenhöfe, and straight ahead to Residenzplatz with the Franconia Fountain. At the top is the figure of Franconia, patron saint of Franconia. At her feet you will see statues of three artists whose fate is closely linked to Würzburg: the minnesinger Walther von der Vogelweide, the sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider and the painter Matthias Grünewald.
Or perhaps you only have eyes for Würzburg's most famous jewel: the Residenz, which you should definitely visit from the inside.
The Residenz is "the most uniform and extraordinary of all Baroque palaces". With this justification, it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981. The Würzburg Residenz is the work of the famous architect and prince-bishop's chief building director Balthasar Neumann. In the mid-18th century until secularisation, the expropriation of church properties at the beginning of the 19th century, the Residenz was the seat of the Würzburg prince-bishops.
The history of this magnificent building begins at the beginning of the 18th century. At that time, Prince-Bishop Johann Philipp Franz von Schönborn won an embezzlement case and received 600,000 gulden. This money was to be used to build a palace. It is the age of absolutism, in which the ruler has to show power and wealth also through the size of his residence.
Prince-Bishop von Schönborn commissions the hitherto unknown architect Balthasar Neumann with the planning. The foundation stone is laid in 1720. The shell of the building is completed in 1744. Renowned European artists are engaged to design the interior. Among them is the Venetian Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, who creates the largest continuous ceiling fresco in the world in the staircase. Also the stucco artist Antonio Bossi, famous for his work in the White Hall of the Residenz. The building work ends in 1778 after almost 60 years of construction.
In the end, the Würzburg Residenz is a total of 168 metres long, 92 metres deep and has 360 rooms, of which about 40 can be visited today. Beneath the Residenz lie the mighty baroque vaults of the Staatlicher Hofkeller, one of Würzburg's three major wineries. The Hofkeller dates back to a deed of donation from 1128. This makes it the oldest documented winery in Germany.
Magnificent wrought-iron gates between the south wing of the Residenz and the Gesandtenbau lead into the Hofgarten. Its southern part presents itself strictly symmetrically in French Baroque style. Conical yew trees frame the fountain. Balthasar Neumann already had the idea of incorporating the Baroque city wall into the garden design. This is done in the eastern garden, which is in the style of Italian Baroque gardens, where terraces halfway up the garden invite visitors to take a stroll. The night music of the Mozart Festival in June is particularly atmospheric against this backdrop.
If you haven't already done so, take the opportunity to taste the famous Franconian wine. Goethe already wrote: "No other wine tastes good to me, and I am displeased when I miss my favourite drink.
The vinotheque in the Rosenbachpalais on the north side of Residenzplatz serves the wines of the Staatlicher Hofkeller. Incidentally, it has never been in private hands, but has been owned without interruption by the respective power in the country. Today, the Free State of Bavaria owns the Hofkeller.
From there, the tour continues to the Bürgerspital zum Hl. Geist. This foundation of Würzburg citizens dating back to 1316 owns the third major Würzburg winery. The proceeds from this renowned winery help to finance homes for the elderly and a geriatric clinic. This means that when you visit the wine house under the Glockenspiel, you can enjoy and do good at the same time.
Theaterstraße takes you back to Barbarossaplatz. Here you turn back into Kaiserstraße, which takes you directly towards the main railway station.