Bamberg was founded in 902 A.D. but a castle existed on a hill as early as the eighth century. Situated on seven hills with around two thousand buildings listed as historical sites, it is was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.
Bamberg was a starting point for shipping on the Main and reached its greatest prosperity in the twelfth century. However, it continued to be important throughout the middle ages. Situated where it was, it influenced architecture in Poland and Hungary. And later in the eighteenth century, home to the philosopher Hegel, it became the center of the Enlightenment in southern Germany.
Bamberg Cathedral’s corner stone was laid in 1004 and consecrated in 1012 but the building was destroyed by a later fire. The present building was consecrated in 1237 and received a baroque facelift in the 17th century. The baroque interior was replaced with the present neo-Romanesque in the early 19th century. There are many sculptures in the Cathedral. The two that probably caught our attention the most were the “Bamberg Horseman” and the tomb of Emperor Heinrich II and his wife Empress Kunigunde.
The Bamberg Horseman was created around 1235 by an unknown craftsman of an uncertain rider. Some believe it was St. Stephan of Hungary and others feel it might be just a symbolic knight. In either case, the expression and gesture of the sculpture is unique for something of that period.
The double tomb of the Emperor and Empress took the sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider (see Rothenburg) fourteen years to complete. The cover depicts the couple. five side panels portray legendary scenes from their lives including the Empress walking over red-hot plowshares as a test of her innocence. The couple, builders of the cathedral, are considered saints.
The building is unusual in that it has two choirs, the east and the west. Although we were unable to get close, we could just see in the west choir the 1240 tomb
of Pope Clemens II, who had been Bishop of Bamberg. He is the only Pope buried north of the Alps.
The Old Palace, near the cathedral, was the residence of prince-bishops in the 16th and 17th centuries.
It is a very interesting town just to walk around. We had a snack in a bakery/deli at the side of the bustling “Green Market.” We decided our choice was a good one, when we noticed our guides also having lunch there in the back of the building. Later, we bought pretzels to take back to the ship. They were fresh and hot, and we were barely out the bakery door before we ate one.