Have you heard of Bamberg before? I hadn’t until recently. When I was planning a trip to Bavaria in Germany, a friend recommend I went there and see how beautiful it was. “It’s a UNESCO site,” she said. “And only a 1-hour train ride from Nuremberg.” So I followed her advice and went to Bamberg.
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BAMBERG OLD TOWN (UNESCO SITE)
It was raining when the train pulled into the station. I hadn’t brought my umbrella so I zipped up my jacket and tucked my hands into the pockets to warm up. I had arrived in a town with more than 1,000 years of history on its belt. Bamberg has survived perishing fires, a pope (the only pope that is buried outside Italy) and World War II almost without a scratch.
I defied the rain and decided to walk to the Old Town. It was a little farther than I thought, but I got to see more of the town on the way there.
And finally the sun came out!
The old town is the reason that Bamberg was made a UNESCO world heritage site in 1993. And honestly, it’s not difficult to see why. It has three historical centres; the market gardener’s town, the island town and the episcopal town. Although I did get lost finding the different sites, I had fun wandering through the narrow, winding cobbled streets and watching the medieval houses.
ALTES RATHAUS (OLD TOWN HALL)
For me, the highlight in Bamberg was the Altes Rathaus, also known as the old town hall. The old town hall was built in 1467 as an artificial island, connected by arched bridges on both sides. It was built on the Regnitz River between the bank where the ordinary people lived and the opposite bank where the bishop ruled. Supposedly it was built on the island because the bishop didn’t want to relinquish any land.
What makes the old town hall so special is the one-of-a-kind frescos in trompe l’oeil on the exterior walls and the half-timbered Rottmeister house (1688) that floats above the river. No wonder this is the most popular and photographed place in Bamberg ↑
BAMBERG CATHEDRAL (BAMBERGER DOM)
Open from 9am – 6pm
On my stroll around the old town, I (accidentally) stumbled upon Bamberg cathedral. This cathedral hasn’t had the best of luck since it was built in 1004. In less than two centuries, it was burned to the ground twice, and twice rebuilt. The third and last construction in 1237, which contains romanesque and early gothic elements, has survived to the present day.
The highlights inside the Bamberg Cathedral include the tomb of the holy imperial couple (Kunigunde and Heinrich II), the Bamberg Horseman, the altar and the tomb of Pope Clemens II. My favorite was the choir stalls that feature wooden carvings of saints, prophets and apostles.
KLEIN VENEDIG (LITTLE VENICE)
Right outside the old town, there’s a picturesque row of half-timbered, colorful houses along the Regnitz river. They’re fishermen houses and this area is known as Klein Venedig (or in English: Little Venice).
My trip to Bamberg was well worth it and it’s so easy to get there from Nuremberg (1 hour) or Munich (2 hours). In many ways, it’s very unique. Most of all because it’s one of the few cities in Germany that was undamaged in World War II, but also because there’s so much history here. There’s the old pub Schlenkerla that has been brewing beer since 1405 and the Hof-Apotheke, which has been in the business since 1453.
Bamberg is a super charming town and another one of Bavaria’s many, many gems.
So, what do you think? Would you pay Bamberg a visit?
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