Würzburg was founded in the tenth century. Today, it has a population of around one hundred thirty three thousand. The city itself was ninety percent destroyed by British bombers in March 1945 and that was followed by a April attack by the U.S. 12th Armor and 42nd Infantry. The U.S. maintained a military presence in Wūrzburg until 2008.
The Residenz is a vast palace constructed by two prince-bishops between 1720 and 1740. There were a number of palaces built around that time by people I tend to believe had Versailles-envy. Although heavily damaged in the war, it has been completely rebuilt. However, knowing that we would be seeing the much larger and better preserved Schönbrunn in Vienna, we chose not to visit it.
Instead, we just walked around the town looking at shops, churches and parks, stopping along the way to buy a fresh pretzel. The bulletin board on one church, St. Stephen’s, caught my attention because (in my rough translation) the activities listed reminded me of the “praise and worship” style churches in the U.S. with a strong focus on community and children.
My attention was also caught by a truck with a crane that was used to pull up a dumpster similar to those used by trash haulers in the U.S. But in this case a back-hoe had been loaded into the dumpster, and evidently this was the way they transported it.
I was most interested in the “Old Main Bridge” built between 1473 and 1543 to replace a bridge that had been there since 1133. The main columns of the bridge are topped with statutes of saints and historical figures. One saint is Saint Killian who was beheaded in the town’s main square close to what is now St. Killian’s Cathedral. Another statue is of Charlemagne.
Across the river, the skyline is dominated by the Marienberg Fortress, home to prince-bishops for about five centuries. After capture by the Swedes in 1631 during the Thirty Years’ War, it was rebuilt as a baroque palace and today is a museum.
Returning to our ship, we were treated to a concert by the “Shantychoir,” a group of retired seamen. They are not professional, and their leader was a little flat, but some were excellent. It was an enjoyable and fun evening.