Würzburg and Rothenburg

I stopped blogging for a while so I could go through my remaining photos and identify the subjects before I forgot every detail of the trip!  It’s awful how fast things slip away.

With everything now identified, I pick up the tale at July 20, the day we toured the Würzburg Residence in the morning and drove to Rothenburg op der Tauber in the afternoon.  It’s also the day I assumed wrongly that it wouldn’t rain, although the day started out (as you can see below) very overcast.  The full gallery of this day is at Würzburg and Rothenburg.

Würzburg is on the Main River, we’ve left the Rhine behind.  The Main is smaller than the Rhine:

Main River at Würzburg

As you come into Würzburg, the first major thing you see is the Fortress of Marienburg (Festung Marienburg), on the hill above the river.  The people who didn’t take the trip to Rothenburg got to explore the Marienburg in the afternoon, but we just saw it from a distance.

Fortress of Marienburg

I have only a few external photos of the Residence, some of which, like this, I took with my phone.

Würzburg Residence courtyard

The management doesn’t allow photography inside the building, so I left my camera in the bus.

You really have to see the Residence to believe it, and I think our guide Felix was spot on when he said that the purpose of this building was to show the Prince-Bishop’s visitors that he was richer and more powerful than they were.  There are photos of it in the Wikipedia article I linked, and more at the official site, which provides a virtual tour (Java and Adobe Flash required).  The virtual tour is limited in size, they won’t let it run full-screen, but it gives an idea.  There’s a better slideshow at this German language site:  http://www.residenz-hofgarten.de/.  There’s a translate option if the German bothers you, but the photos of the garden and interior are much bigger and better.

When you look at the pictures, keep in mind this was the official residence of one man.  Bishops, of course, were celibate.

After touring the Residence, those of us who wanted to see a well-preserved medieval town climbed back on the bus for a 60 km ride to Rothenburg, which is (of course) on the Tauber River.  This is clearly farming country, with gentle rolling hills divided into cultivated fields.  It reminded me of Sonoma County, although it doesn’t really look like it.

On the road to Rothenburg

Here we all are walking into Rothenburg along the Spitalgasse.  That is the Siebers Tower at the end of the street.

Down the Spitalgasse to Siebers Tower

In Rothenberg we had “a traditional German lunch” in a restaurant whose name I can’t recall; I think it was in the Spitalgasse.  I’ve read that modern German dining is heavy on organic food and healthy eating, but we didn’t get it here, although the food wasn’t bad:  potato soup, bratwurst with sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, and custard pudding with strawberry sauce.

After lunch we began our walking tour, and the heavens opened.  It rained cats and dogs; and I hadn’t brought either an umbrella or a rain proof jacket. I was wearing a hat, and I had a linen jacket which was just about enough to keep the water off the camera.  I slogged along and managed to take some photos anyway; and the rain eventually quit; but I was wet all afternoon.  At one point a hotel manager invited all of us to come into his lobby and get out of the rain for a bit, and we were all very grateful, even the ones with umbrellas!

You’ll see a lot of towers and walls in my pictures.  Rothenburg still has its intact 14th century city wall, and multiple towers.  Here is a section of the city wall:

Rothenburg town wall

And here is the Markus Tower and the original 12th century gate:

Markus Tower and 12th century gate

Rothenberg was an Imperial Free City until 1803 (Napoleon and all that), so it defended itself when necessary.  The old town and walls  took considerable damage in a bombing raid during World War II, but it was surrendered to the Allies without further destruction, and after the war the citizens rebuilt the old buildings and the wall.  It has been a tourist destination since the late 1880s and has zoning laws to preserve the medieval look that are probably quite as annoying to the residents as any of San Francisco’s historical restrictions.

Typical half-timbered house

You can see from many of these photos that Rothenburg, like other medieval towns, didn’t believe in wasting space by leaving openings between buildings!  Space inside the city wall was precious.

I like this view of the town from the Burg Garden, in front of the castle area.  It isn’t clear from the photo but there’s quite a deep ravine between the two.

Rothenburg from the Burg Garden

I took a few photos inside St. Jakob’s Church, which you can see in the gallery, but the really unusual item in this medieval city was the very modern statue of St. Jakob outside the church, holding the scallop shell was St. James’ emblem, and was a favorite symbol carried by the pilgrims to the great shrine at Santiago de Compostela in Spain.  Yes, James and Jakob are variants of the same name; I didn’t actually realize that until I saw the scallop shell.

Statue of St. Jakob

I’ll close this with another look at the German countryside we drove through on the way back:

Driving from Rothenburg to Würzburg

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