Gateway to the Romantic RoadThis lively city is the northern gateway to the Romantic Road, a trade route from the Middle Ages still traveled by visitors seeking the best of medieval Germany. Today it is a surprisingly cosmopolitan Bavarian city filled with architectural and artistic treasures - and exquisite Franconian wine. As Würzburg is situated in the heart of Franconian wine country, wine and wine-making are central to city life.
Würzburg is dominated by its most prominent landmark, the Festung Marienberg (Marienberg Fortress). The origins of this fortress date back to around 1000 B.C., when a Celtic fortified refuge existed on this site. Since the foundation of the Würzburg bishopric in 742, the city has been the region's religious center. The city experienced its most prosperous period during the rule of the art-loving prince-bishops of the Schönborn family, for whom Balthasar Neumann built the "palace of palaces" from 1719 to 1744. Known as the Würzburger Residenz (Würzburg residence), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is arguably the most ornate Baroque palace in Germany.
The prince-bishops hired some of Europe's finest architects, sculptors and painters, and their legacy can be seen on nearly every block. Sights worth exploring include the Dom St. Kilian's (St. Kilian Cathedral) for its exquisite architecture and the adjacent Neumünsterkirche (Neumünster Church), built where missionaries were killed in 689 and the destination for thousands of pilgrims every July 7. Behind this church is the Lusamgärtchen (Lusam Garden), where the tombstone of the medieval poet, Walther von der Vogelweide, can be found.
Mention should also be made of the Marienkapelle (Chapel of St. Mary) on the "Marktplatz" (Market Square) as one of the most interesting late-Gothic Bavarian churches. Würzburg (like its visitors) benefits from its prime location on the Main River. The promenade makes for delightful strolls, and riverfront cafés overflow in good weather. Sightseeing boats offer excursions to neighboring villages, and passenger ships plying the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers make the city a prime stop.