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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A Day in Wurzburg, Germany

We left Bamberg, the beer capital of Franconia, and traveled by train in under an hour to Wurzburg, the Franconian wine capital. Our stay in town was a quick 24 hours, but during that time we took in a visit to a brewery, a winery, a historic site, strolled through the market square and had a pleasant meal along the Main River.

The city's roots go back to around 1000 BC, but two violent acts define Wurzburg's place history. The first was in 689 when Irish missionaries Kilian, Kolonat and Totnan were beheaded on the orders of Duchess Geilana. She was angry because Kilian had told her husband, Duke Gozbert, that their marriage was immoral. Geilana was the widow of Gozbert's brother. The next violent act took place on March 16, 1945, when 90 percent of the city was destroyed and 5,000 people killed in a raid by 225 British Lancaster bombers.

Unlike Bamberg, which was spared catastrophic bombing damage during World War II, Wurzburg had to be rebuilt. With most of the men gone, the Rubble Ladies collected bricks and what artifacts that could be found from destroyed buildings so that they could be rebuilt. The Residenz, a UNESCO World Heritage Site designed by Balthasar Neumann as the home of the city’s Prince Bishops, was painstakingly rebuilt and was not completed until 1987.

The fortress Marienberg towers above the city, but the peaceful activity of cultivating grapes now goes on along its slopes. Wurzburg is the perfect place to start a tour of the Romantic Road or to use as a base for visiting wineries. In fact, the town hosts several wine festivals and some nearby wineries have guest rooms. Tour boats traveling from Amsterdam to Budapest make frequent stops in the city.

On our evening in Wurzburg we had dinner at Alte Mainmuhle, which is located on the west side of the Alte Mainbrucke, a bridge reminiscent of the Charles Bridge in Prague because it is now pedestrian only and lined with statues. Sandy enjoyed the sauerbraten and dumplings, while I had a pike-perch fillet. The bottle of Furst Lowenstein Homburg Kallmuth 2007 Riesling Kabinett Trocken was minerally and tart.

After dinner, it was a quick 10 minute walk to the other side of the river to our room at the Mercure Hotel. The next morning we would leave for Munich.

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