What gives Bamberg the tag of “Germany’s most romantic city”? We were skeptical too, until we visited the city. The typical Fachwerkhäuser or “half-timbered” houses typical of when you think of German fairytales are interspersed with the Romanesque architecture of the Bamberger Dom and other structures that miraculously escaped the Allied bombings of World War II. In fact, Bamberg is one of the few cities that retains most of its architecture from as far back as the 11th and 12th centuries, as opposed to most other German cities such as Dresden and Hamburg that had to be rebuilt after World War II. Today, the charm of Bamberg is alive in the small, cozy coffee and cake shops built into the cobble-stoned streets passing over the river Regnitz. Below are a few highlights of the city you can enjoy in a day, whether you’re coming in for a weekend getaway, or making a quick day-trip as part of a European or German rail/road-trip.
Note that almost all of the below mentioned sights to see are free.
If you are driving into Bamberg, a good place to park is the Old Town Parking Garage (City-Altstadt Tiefgarage by Geyersworthstraβe. The Bamberg Tourist office is just by the rose garden as you get come out onto the street level of the garage, just in case you have inquiries. Cross the street and follow the flower-lined railings until you cross the bridge onto the Old Town.
Bamberg Old Town
Think narrow cobble-stoned streets, street artists, cake shops, and buildings spanning hundreds of years. The Bamberg Old Town is a beautiful sight to see. Cross the Regnitz over little bridges, pass under beautiful arches built in the 12th century, and gaze over flower-filled railings at the beautiful half-timbered houses. The entire Old Town of Bamberg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall)
Known conventionally as the “best view in town,” this is a beautiful structure as you cross over the bridges into the Old Town. Built around 1467, it now houses a porcelain collection with a few other items on display.
Historical Museum Bamberg
This museum houses a variety of exhibits, from Jewish Life in Bamberg to life in prehistoric times. It is only open for special exhibitions from November through March; it may be useful to check ahead here if you’re planning a visit inside during these months. Of note are the beautiful frescoes outside the museum. It is located right by the Old Town Hall, on the little island of bridges leading into the Old Town.
Bamberger Dom (Bamberg Cathedral)
This is a Roman Catholic Church completed in the 13th century. Originally founded in 1002, the first two churches burned down in the 11th and 12th centuries, to make way for the 13th century grandeur you see today. A popular statue at the church depicts the Bamberger Reiter (Bamberg Horseman) – though we personally think the church architecture within is much more note-worthy!
Theater der Schatten
The “Theatre of Shadows” is a journey through the 1000-year history of the city of Bamberg. It’s currently only presented in German, but it’s interesting even to see the outdoor summer set up of the show when you’re walking through the Old Town. Note the beautiful wooden houses with balconies filled with flowers close to the theater.
Klein Venedig (Little Venice)
Situated by the Old Town Hall, this is a quaint area great for photography: over-river houses and flower-lined bridges galore.
Enjoy beautiful views over the city at this castle, located around a 30 minute walk from the Bamberg Old Town. Alternatively, you can take the bus to Bamberg Wildensorg Mitte (the final stop) and walk up 15 minutes to get to the castle as well. Enjoy the greenery around the castle, and perhaps have a beer at the in-castle restaurant.
This is a group of old living and commercial buildings of aristocrats, originally built in 1007. Like most of Bamberg, it’s worth taking a look to admire the historical architecture and design from outside.
Located by the market square, St. Martin’s Baroque-style church has an impressive façade and an even more impressive interior. While the rest of the attractions above are located quite close together in the Old Town of Bamberg, St. Martin is located across the bridges on the other side of the city by the Natural History Museum of Bamberg.
One of many of the women’s churches built around Germany at a time when women were not allowed to pray in the same house of worship as men. Some say the women’s churches are even more ornate and beautiful than the “regular, main” churches.
Rose Garden at the New Residenz
This is a lovely way to end your sightseeing tour of the city. Offering stunning views over the city, this is a great way to relax, surrounded by rows of neatly kept, colorful rose bushes. You can really appreciate the beauty of this garden, and Bamberg itself, in the summer months of June through August. Keep an umbrella with you though, because German weather can be fickle! (We visited in August: You can get an inkling of how the weather can be in our pictures!)
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