This city of 130,000 straddles the Main River between Nuremberg and Frankfurt. Although 90 percent of Würzburg was destroyed during World War II, its most important monuments have been rebuilt. Many are opulent examples of the splendors of the 18th-century Baroque era and relate to the region's prince-bishops, who were heads of both church and state.
What We Love
Alte Mainbrücke (Old Main Bridge): Rebuilt many times, this arched stone bridge lined with statues of Baroque-era saints offers excellent views of Würzburg and its surroundings.
Marienberg Fortress: An early residence for the prince-bishops, this structure looms over the city. It's now home to art and history museums, with works by Venetian artist Tiepolo and local master sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider.
Riverside Cafes: Relax at an outdoor cafe in the old customs building near the river, and check out the 18th-century “Alter Kranen” (Old Crane).
Best Known For
Würzberg Residence Palace: This UNESCO World Heritage Site was built under the authority of the prince-bishops during the 18th century. Dripping with Baroque splendor, it's a must-see. The center section of the complex survived the war intact and houses the world's largest fresco, painted on a ceiling by Tiepolo and his son. But the entire palace is one dazzling room after another, including more Tiepolo works, intricate parquet floors, and spectacular 3D stucco work. (Note: some areas only accessible by guided tour.)
Würzburg Court Chapel: Exit the main palace to visit this jewel of a Baroque chapel — with among the most over-the-top stucco decoration you'll ever see.
Würzburg Court Gardens: Walk amid elaborate iron gates, sculptures, formal gardens, and the orangery. This is also a great spot for snapping photos of the palace.
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Who It's Best For
UNESCO Life-Listers: If you're collecting UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Würzburg Residence is a must.
Baroque Aficionados: Love the "more is more" Baroque style? Revel in it at the Residence, Bürgerspital, St. Augustine Church, and Falkenhaus (where you’ll also find the tourist office).
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Cameras Are Verboten Inside the Residence: It will make you crazy, but the no-photo rule is strictly enforced. For a visual memory, books and other souvenirs are available at the large gift shop.
Gayle Keck is a San Francisco-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times.