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 third stop on my Uniworld Classic Christmas Cruise along the Main River from Frankfurt to Nuremberg. I was looking forward to combining Christmas Market shopping and touring a UNESCO World Heritage Site there.
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 half an hour before it opened. This 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 over 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 palace. 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, 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 the small Kathe Wohlfarcht store, lots of hand-blown glass, silicone bakeware, cookie cutters, and all sorts of festive trinkets.
The Bamberg Market was similar in that vendors were 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 in. 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 away by car. Have you been?
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