Our walk into Bamberg started at the home of the famous Bamberg Symphony. Along the way we found the first of many signs in this town stencilled onto walls and streets to welcome refugees. The old city, another UNESCO site, was founded in 902 and the streets are filled with beautiful Baroque patrician houses. Emperor Heinrich II made Bamberg the centre of the Hold Roman Empire in 1007. Built on 7 hills, each with a church on top, it was modelled after Rome. The Cathedral dates from the 11th century and houses the tombs of both Emperor Heinrich and his wife as well as Pope Clement II. It was rebuilt in gothic style in the 13th century.
Behind the cathedral is the old residence of the Prince-Bishop (with lovely window boxes filled with red and white flowers under each of the windows) which now houses a museum and concerts are often held in the courtyard. We gather the last 3 Musketeers movie was also filmed here. Across the street is the “New Residence” which was built to replace the old, less opulent, dwelling. Built in Baroque style, one wing was never completed because, rather than a symmetrical U-shaped, it forms an L. The rose garden at the back of the building was still beautiful even in October.
The Protestant Reformation later cut the bishopric’s territory in half and in the 17th century Bamberg became a centre for witch trials (5 of its mayors were even burned at the stake, suspected of being accomplices to black magic).
The Altes Rathaus (old town hall) is situated on a small island on the Regnitz River, supposedly because the Bishop refused to give the city land. The outer walls are covered in colourful murals. Looking over the bridge up the river we noticed a gondola – a smart entrepreneur taking advantage of the town’s claim to being the “Venice of Germany”.
We never miss a walk around the local market, resplendent with delicious looking vegetables and fruits and again we found an amazing selection of mushrooms (including lobster mushrooms that I had been introduced to by Laura and Sean). We ventured into a bookshop and upstairs found remnants of an earlier time – an ancient porcelain stove in the corner of a room. As we walked back to the bus to take us to the ship, we found the ubiquitous “love locks” along the bridge.
Tony didn’t try the local Rauchbier (smoke beer). Perhaps it was because our guide likened it to drinking from an ashtray.