Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Würzburg, the Motherland

Disclaimer:  This is an extremely biased post about a magnificent city in Germany called Würzburg.  It is biased because Würzburg is my motherland – the city near where my mother was born and raised.  (I say near because she was actually born and raised in a little village outside of town that is so obscure, some inhabitants of Würzburg haven’t even heard of it.)  I have been visiting this city regularly since I was 3 years old, and am in love with it.

But it’s not just me saying this town is special – Würzburg is in the tour books.  It lies at the beginning (or end, depending on your direction) of the Romantic Road, a stretch of highway through German medieval towns running from Würzburg to Füssen that makes a popular drive for tourists in Germany.  That’s right – Würzburg is right along there with Rothenburg ob der Tauber and Neuschwanstein, and just as worthy of your visit. 

What I’ve personally always thought makes the town so beautiful and interesting is its “100 churches.”  (Although that’s what is said, I think the number might not quite reach that high.)  Baroque, Romanesque, Renaissance, and Gothic façades, spires, steeples, domes, and carillons dot this city, begetting romantic squares and a stunning skyline.  The interiors of these churches are exquisite and ornate, and I like to visit as many as I can (my favorite is Neumünsterkirche) before my kids have reached maximum level church-fatigue.

Festung Marienberg
The place to go when the kids want to be entertained is up to the Fortress Marienberg.  This enormous fortress, the prominent symbol of Würzburg, sits proudly atop the city overlooking the River Main.  Built in 704 A.D., the ancient structure - complete with turrets, a dungeon, an armory, and a museum – offers plenty to see and do for kids of all ages.  My young son never tires of looking at medieval weaponry and suits of armor.

Lots of room to run around.

Both my kids are always fascinated by the well-house and the seemingly bottomless well, and after touring the castle interior, are eager to run around outside in the courtyard and moat.  And when it's time for parents to take a break, there’s a nice beergarten with excellent views of the city.

Excellent views of the city.

The Residenz Palace
I know I mentioned churches already, but do not miss at least a peak into the little baroque Hofkirche chapel which faces into the courtyard of the Residenz Palace in Würzburg.  The marble and gold interior is absolutely decadent.  The Catholic bishops who ruled Würzburg for over five centuries needed a place to live, and so built this enormous palace of residence in the 18th century.  Tours of the palace interior are offered daily in English at 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. and are super.  The most notable feature inside the palace is the immense, majestic staircase and the ceiling above it - one of the largest ceiling frescos in the world, painted by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo.  It's truly spectacular, but not something young children will be impressed by, nor will they probably be able to endure the tour length.  Take them out instead into the (free entrance!) palace gardens where there are fountains, covered trellises, steps, balconies and snack stands in the summer.  Big plus:  nice, clean, free bathrooms here in the garden.

Würzburg is a city just small enough to cover most of it on foot.  There are also streetcars to get you across town and to the train station. There is so much family fun in this charming city, it'll take many more posts for me to cover completely.  I'm looking forward to it.


  1. Thanks for posting the bathroom tip! No one ever points things like that out... but seriously probably the most important tip of all. No tour, view, etc. is going to be enjoyable if you need a restroom and there aren't any!

  2. WOW, seeing this post in particular takes me back many years to when we (mom, dad,and i) lived in Germany. Weisbaden (sp) back in the late 80's. We went everywhere, all the Castles, Rhine River cruises and all the other cities around. I dreaded going on tours with my parents but I was young and didnt know any better. I think it is great that your kids can capture all of this. Awesome. You visited my blog from UPB11 and now I am glad I came to visit yours.

  3. I'm hoping you can help me. I have a friend who is going to see his daughter the entire month of June in Wazburg, Germany. She is only two (and not quite two at that). He is looking for fun things to do that are cheap or free. So far he has come up with a petting zoo and swimming. She's going to get bored doing that over and over for an entire month. Can someone who has been going there for years give us some advice? Thank you so much for your time!

    1. Definitely take her for walks in the Residenz Palace gardens (free) and play on the Main River beach. There is a small sandy beach with shallow water for swimming and there's even a playground right there. Wander around the market (in the Marktplatz) and eat giant Bavarian pretzels. Rent a bike with a kid's seat and ride the endless bike trail along the Main River. Visit the nearby towns of Sommerhausen and Veitshöchheim and stroll their streets. Have fun!!

  4. I completely agree with you that if someone has extra time to come to Veitshöchheim with kids. There is another beautiful Hofgarten here that includes a large fountain and a great stroll along the Main with a huge playground and ice cream place very near. I have been living here for 3 months with my 3 year old, and it is a wonderful place to be with children. I also LOVE Würzburg and appreciated your post when we've been exploring. Veitshöchheim-Würzburg ship tours are common (although more expensive), but would be an alternative for anyone not looking to bike.

    1. So glad you're loving the Würzburg area!


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