Monday, 5 May 2014

Bamberg and Wurzburg

We docked in Nuremburg, a little outside the town. Nick was not at all well so we decided to miss the side trips here and had a rest day. It was grey and cold and my knees were sore too, so no excursions.
We did have a great lecture by an expert on the Main Canal which explained how the locks worked and gave details on the system history and operation. We both enjoyed it very much.
We docked at dawn in Bamberg,  misty in the morning light.


Nick was still a bit under the weather so I took the excursion without him, passing more hanging signs and old shops and corner saints which make these cities so picturesque.

An apothecary sign for unicorn horn
For Claire I think
A guardian saint
For your tailor
We took a tour of the city centre and up to the area around the cathedral, with its historic accommodation for huge retinues as people visited the bishop/prince.

The rather distorted panorama of the accommodation buildings for visitors; massively huge!
A former monastery
B-roof_edited-1_thumb2Eccentric rooflines from the terrace
B-French-garden_edited-1_thumb2The terrace rose garden for the pleasure of the Prince/Bishop
The cathedral was closed for Sunday Mass so all I was able to photograph was the portal by which the Prince/Bishop entered his cathedral. Rather nice too. Note the Prince/Bishop was elected for life and did not actually have to be a priest.


The city has an amazing frescoed town hall through which the main gateway to the city passes over a bridge. These days the kayakers play on the waters below the sluice and the mills no longer run. But the water is swift and they use it for power. For a photographer, it is very pretty.

Town Hall frescoes, bridge and medieval rooms
B-town-hall_edited-1_thumb2 B-town-hall-n-bridge_edited-1_thumb2

In the city square fishmarket a fountain featuring Neptune and his trident was never really understood by the land locked populace. Instead it became a place to meet “by the fork”, and has remained so.


A featured taste of the town is smoked beer. I believe in trying the specialities, but beer that tasted like bacon was a bit beyond my tastebuds. I had a few sips only and will not be in a hurry to repeat the experience.

We had a lovely talk by the captain about the boat and everything connected with it. I was pleased to hear that the sewage is digested by bacteria before discharge. Apparently it was just jettisoned previously, Eeewww! There were more pleasant statistics about engines and steering (by engines and propellers, not by rudders) width and depth to match the canal measurements and height to fit under the bridges, plus how locks work and their dimensions.

As we sailed, this lock entrance glowed in the pretty evening light. We sailed in on the level and the were dropped down.


On to Wurzberg! We arrived quite early to a view of a massive fortress, the Marienberg Fortress and home to the Prince/Bishop of Wurzburg before he decided on a city Residence (modelled on Versailles) as more convenient. There was also, apparently, a small weekender out in the country of similar size, just in case one wanted a respite.

Marienberg Fortress
Church in the hills
Nick and I had the opportunity to wander the city in the morning before the afternoon excursion, which was pleasant. We saw several churches, both of which had been badly burnt in 1945. The first, in the market, was a red gothic style church, massively rebuilt so the glass and most of the statuary was new. It ended being very spare and plain but that meant the saved treasures like old grave markers or a  virgin and child were beautifully showcased.

Market church
Market church nave with new glass
In the cathedral the Rococo stucco work had been replaced but all was kept white in the nave and apse except for some gold highlights. The result was clear, bright light around the altar. The transept altars were more gilded and decorated and I could have done without the very 60’s modern sculptures, but the result was a church of the people which I could understand and appreciate.

Panorama of the ceiling and apse
Gorgeous stucco-work with gold touches
We walked back through the city and across the bridge, taking the long way back to the boat as it turned out.

Bridge with saints against the Fortress
Bridge looking back to the cathedral or Dom
Nick decided against an expedition in the afternoon. I visited the city Residence. No internal photos were allowed unfortunately, as the ceiling fresco above the stairway (by Tiepolo) was amazing and also the biggest known ceiling fresco, but rooms such as the mirror room were beyond compare.

Nothing else exists like this, though it is by necessity, a faithful reconstruction after the war. Indeed, it boggles the mind at how often and how devotedly people persist in reproducing exactly what was damaged or lost. Is it worth it? What are the psychological imperatives that drive such reconstruction? What would be the alternatives? Perhaps the concrete brutality of much of post war Britain.

The French Gardens of the Residence are always open to the public and we visited. Very pretty conical evergreens and planted annual borders of multiple flowers, the tulips and poppies getting past their best.
Formal garden with conical trees
Annual borders
Bicolour tulip
Following the visit to the Residence we had a wine tasting in the cellars, the official cellars of the city and the site of much official winemaking as well for centuries. People used to be paid in wine; 6 litres a day. It was safer than water to drink. We enjoyed some Muller Thurgau, Sylvaner and Riesling among the ancient barrels.

A drive set up for tasting
Muller Thurgau
Back to the ship for dinner and preparation for sailing.
Tomorrow: Miltenberg

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