It took 17 minutes to destroy 90% of Wurzburg, Germany during a WWII air raid toward the end of the war. Most of the historic structures have been rebuilt though it’s amazing to think that it took almost 20 years to clear the city of rubble. Wurzburg was the Uniworld Classic Christmas Cruise’s third stop along the Main River from Frankfurt to Nuremberg and I was looking forward to the combination of Christmas Market shopping and touring a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We had one day to spend here so I did my best to pack in as many of the highlights as I could.
First, Visit the Wurzburg Residence
We had a special arrangement via our river cruise to enter the Wurzburg Residence about a half an hour before it opened which means we were able to get a head start on the massive crowds. The palace was built by the town’s prince bishops between 1720 and 1744 (with the interior finished in 1780) based on plans by architect Balthasar Neumann. Opulent is an understatement and the details are just overwhelming. It’s considered one of the most important and beautiful Baroque palaces in Europe.
Each room becomes subsequently more impressive than the rest, starting with one of the world’s largest frescos representing the world’s then four continents. The artist, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, painted it in something like 14 months according to our guide. This room was one of the only to survive World War II. Though much of the art was moved before the bombing, quite a bit was reconstructed.
You are, unfortunately, not allowed to take photos inside. The garden outside is free to enter and was covered in a light blanket of snow. It was stunning.
Walk to the Wurzburg Christmas Market
The picturesque Wurzburg Christmas Market was a short walk, maybe under five minutes away, from the Wurzburg Residence. In fact, the entire town is very walkable. We passed by the Wurzburg Cathedral along the way.
It was the second market we visited after the Frankfurt Christmas Market, noticeably less crowded, and more oriented toward gifts.
It’s not a huge market by comparison to some but it’s easy to browse with a small Kathe Wohlfarcht store, lots of hand-blown glass, silicone bakeware, cookie cutters and all sorts of festive things.
The Bamberg Market was similar in that there were vendors selling fruits, veggies, cheese, meats, and flowers. And, of course, there was gluhwein but I became so wrapped up in shopping that I forgot (!!!) to order it.
Every Christmas Market in Germany has a carousel for the kids. The Chapel of Mary can be seen behind the one here.
Despite the cold, I quite enjoyed wandering Wurzburg’s market and shops. It’s a hard town to get lost here and I even ran into Saint Nicholas.
I also popped into the Town Hall to see the replica of what the city looked like after the 1945 bombing. It’s quite staggering.
It took just a few minutes to walk back to the boat, but the view from this bridge over the Main River provided a number of photo opps.
If you weren’t on the river, Wurzburg would be a very worthwhile day trip from Frankfurt at just under 90 minutes by car. Have you been?
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*Thank you to Uniworld for hosting me on this river cruise!