Discover Würzburg with Emerald Waterways

Introduction

At the centreof the Franconian Wine Country, Würzburg projects its personality through itsspectacular architecture, love of art and unique history. 

Straddling the Main River in the heart of Bavaria, Würzburg has long been one of southern Germany’s most prosperous cities, thanks to its strategic position on the fabled Rhine-Main-Danube trade passage. This wealth is reflected in the city’s prestigious Baroque and Rococo architecture, specifically the Würzburg Residence – one of Germany’s most impressive and inspiring Baroque monuments.

wurzburg city guide

As well as boasting a prized collection of buildings and structures, Würzburg has steadily earned a reputation for its cosmopolitan feel, which has come about largely through its winemaking heritage, love for the arts, and its large student population.

Keen to learn more about Würzburg ahead of an upcoming river cruise through Germany? Discover more of the city’s highlights in our in-depth visitor guide below.

Cultural Highlights

Between the Old Town and the Residence, Würzburg is rich with cultural delights – with heritage architecture combining with charming local traditions.

Würzburg Residence

wurzburg city guide

Würzburg Residence is considered one of Europe’s most ambitious and striking royal palaces, and one of the great sites of southern Germany. Designed and built by two Prince-Bishops, Johann Philipp Franz and Frederik Carl von Schönburg, in the 18th century, Würzburg Residence was inspired by a combination of French, Viennese and Italian architecture, as well as showcasing the skilful craftsmanship of the German Baroque style. Despite suffering significant damage towards the end of WWII, in which almost the entire interior of the palace was destroyed, many of its most iconic design features remain, including the famous frescos, grand staircase and the amazing three-dimensional stuccowork.

Festung Marienberg

wurzburg city guide

Defending the Main River since Celtic times, the Fortress Marienberg is visible across Würzburg thanks to its elevated position on the steep valley above the city. In 704 AD, the city’s first church was built close to the site of the historic Celtic palisade, with fortifications later added in the 13th century to protect it. In the centuries that followed, the fortress was expanded and renovated on several occasions, particularly during the Renaissance and Baroque periods. The fortress which stands today is considered a masterstroke of Renaissance design, and visitors can enjoy wonderful views of the river from its stone curtain wall.

Alte Mainbrücke

wurzburg city guide

No visit to Würzburg would be complete without crossing the majestic Alte Mainbrücke, or ‘Old Bridge’. With its first stones laid in 1473, this iconic bridge became one of the great crossing strongholds of the Main River, and an important feature connecting the city’s old town with the historic fisherman’s quarter. In 1730, 12 golden statues of saints were added, bringing the bridge in line with the neighbouring Baroque and Rococo architecture. Today, the bridge is central to local life in Würzburg, a place where locals often gather on summer evenings to enjoy live music and a glass of local Franconian wine.

Dom St. Kilian

wurzburg city guide

Designed and built between the 11th and 12th centuries, Dom St Kilian is the principal cathedral of Würzburg, and a fine example of Germanic Romanesque architecture. The construction of the main church is thought to have begun in 1040, with the iconic East Towers added in 1237. During the Baroque era of the 18th century, ornate stuccowork was added to the interior, which, alongside an array of exquisite artefacts, make St Kilian a must-visit on your trip to Würzburg. Sadly, in 1945, the cathedral was badly damaged by allied bombing, but has since been rebuilt to its original design.

Museum für Franken

wurzburg city guide

Located within the grounds of the Fortress Marienberg, Museum für Franken is one of the most significant museums in Bavaria, housing a huge collection of works by the medieval sculptor and woodcarver, Tilman Riemenschneider, as well as exhibits from regional artists and objects documenting Würzburg’s rich wine-making heritage.

What makes the museum so fascinating is its range of unique exhibits, including the ‘History of Würzburg’, which aims to showcase the city’s timeline; ‘Archaeology’, including over 1,000 artefacts discovered in the region from the Palaeolithic Age; and, of course, the Riemenschneider exhibit, which includes a wonderful range of works completed by the sculptor between 1485 and 1531.

Würzburg Christkindlmarkt

wurzburg city guide

If there’s one thing the cities of Bavaria are known for throughout the world, it’s their enchanting Christmas markets – and Würzburg is no exception. A traditional Christkindlmarkt has taken place in the heart of the city’s beautiful Old Town since the early 19th century, with its customary home being the historic market square in front of the Gothic Chapel of St Mary. Each December, over 120 stalls are erected on the square, offering everything from traditional wooden toys and decorations, to everyone’s favourite festive pairing: mulled wine and Lebkuchen (gingerbread). Discover the Würzburg Christmas market with Emerald Waterways.

Discover Franconian Wine in Würzburg

Würzburg is at the centre of the Franconian wine region, with the neighbouring slopes of the Main River basin covered in historic, Old World grapevines. Franconian Wine Country traditionally stems from Aschaffenburg to Schweinfurt, following the course of the Main River over a terroir whose rich soils, temperate climate and steep vineyards make it ideal for wine production.

Wine has been an important part of the local culture of Franconia for over 1,200 years, with the Romans introducing viticulture to the region. Today, Franconia is rivalled only by the Rhine Valley in terms of the quantity and quality of wine produced – though many visitors and locals would argue that Franconian wine is far superior to that produced in the Rhineland-Palatinate.

wurzburg city guide

Franconian wine is beloved for the diversity of its varietals and the subtle nuances of flavour that each vineyard brings to its vintages. Some of the most common wine varieties produced in the region include Bacchus, Müller-Thurgau, Scheurebe and Silvaner, though many wineries experiment with other grapes and combinations, like classic German Riesling.

As you’d expect from a city where viticulture is entrenched in local life, Würzburg and its surrounding area are renowned for their wine festivals, wine bars and cellar door tasting experiences – making it easy to sample the very best in Franconian wine during your visit. Here are a few of our favourite.

Exploring Würzburg with Emerald Waterways

Known as the ‘Pearl of the Romantic Road’, Würzburg is one of a handful of culture-rich destinations which make a river cruise through the heart of Bavaria such a timeless experience. At Emerald Waterways, we can help you see more of this wonderful German city, from its iconic heritage sites to its impressive viticultural legacy.

During your stay in the city, visit the spectacular Würzburg Residence, and see its famous frescoes, stuccowork, grand staircase and ornate, landscaped gardens. A guided tour will help you see more of the city’s famous sights, including the Alte Mainbrücke and Dom St. Kilian.