Würzburg

I had no idea that Würzburg was a tourist destination till today. Now I know that it is, and it’s worth it. If you haven’t visited yet, put it on the list. It’s a lovely city.

But we had our own personal Tour Guide, our friend Gina: knowledgeable, informative and fun.

Today, I can’t show you the Residenz, the extraordinary project of two 18th century prince-bishops. Photos not allowed.

I’ll tell you instead the shameful story of how Würzurg was all but destroyed at the very end of World War II. By us. In March 1945, Würzburg was one of the cities identified as a target of the Baedeker Raids – designed to decimate culturally significant communities. Twenty minutes of bombing on 16 March destroyed 80% of the town’s buildings and killed 5000 citizens in an attack that can only be described as a vindictive act of vandalism.

That Würzburg in general and the Residenz in particular has rescued and restored its rich heritage owes much to an American soldier, John Skilton, who worked indefatigably with both Germans and not-very-enthusiastic Allies to protect what remained of the Residenz.

I shan’t give you a conducted tour now. That may come later. Here are a few pictures: of the Marienburg Fortress above the town

looking over towards the Market Square…

….. and from the gardens of the Residenz.

15 thoughts on “Würzburg”

  1. I had no idea either! My knowledge of Germany is scanty: a strange trip to the Black Forest in the mid 70s and a brief visit to Bad Würtenberg 10 years ago to meet our middle son’s future in-laws. I must confess that although it was beautiful, Ulm in particular, I found it all rather tidy and cold – and not just the sub zero temperature in BW! The people were lovely.

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  2. When you visit these places and hear their histories, it makes war seem all the crazier, especially if the war was basically over by then. I don’t get it. But it looks lovely now–show us more!

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  3. Lovely shots – I’m one who has also not heard of Wurtzburg. Your photos made me think of Russian and then French architecture. I have very little knowledge of either so that’s really of little relevance! I suppose it’s made me wonder where in Germany Wurtzburg is – and what has influenced its development. (I shall turn to Google maps in a mo!) As for the destruction, it’s always sobering hearing of these horrors regardless of who is involved. So much is lost to the world through man’s ‘endeavours’…

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  4. Shame about no photos of the interior of the Würzburg Residenz. Travelling by train I took two Canadian friends on a day trip when we lived near Frankfurt. I can still remember my visit and seeing the Tiepolo fresco ceiling and it was 25 years ago and well before my Art History days! I think you’ve captured the elegance and drama of the building though in your photo from the gardens.

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  5. I have just finished reading ‘Bomber Boys’ by Patrick Bishop which was a good read and also explained all about blanket bombing and ‘Bomber’ Harris, Charles Portal and Churchill’s decision to destroy so many German towns and cities. The numbers of civilian deaths in Germany were staggering and most of Germany’s architectural heritage was completely destroyed. We holidayed in Travemünde near Lübeck about 11 years ago and were humbled and shocked at the damage that had been done there during the war.
    I haven’t visited Würzburg before; it looks fabulous!

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