The medieval city of Bamberg is situated on the Regnitz River, which flows into the larger Main River less than two miles away. The city is located around 40 miles north of Nuremberg and 60 miles east of Wurzburg, and these two cities commonly sandwich Bamberg on river cruise itineraries which explore the Rhine and Main. The layout of the town over the seven hills offers attractive views of the neighbouring scenery from some areas within the city limits, over towards the foothills of the Steigerwald National Park. The earliest recorded mention of Bamberg was in the early 10th century and the town has a rich history populated by major events such as the 17th-century witch trials and the Bamberg Conference which Hitler convened in 1926. Nowadays, it is an altogether more peaceful destination with an effortlessly relaxed atmosphere.
Bamberg is populated by a wealth of beautifully preserved buildings which have led to the city centre being designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is built over seven hills, atop each of which is a church. This leads to comparisons to Rome, something which Bamberg prides itself on. Indeed, a lot of the charm of Bamberg comes from its medieval architecture, making the city a delight to explore on foot.
Bamberg Cathedral, or the Dom, originally built in 1007 before burning down twice and being completed in current form in 1237, offers fine examples of both Romanesque and Gothic architecture. It’s impossible to miss and dominates the skyline, boasting no fewer than four lofty towers at each corner. The Church of St Martin meanwhile, is another popular architectural attraction and is the city’s only church to be built in the baroque style, while St Michael’s Monastery offers some beautiful interiors and impressive views of the city. One of the most interesting and unique buildings to see in Bamberg, however, is the Rathaus, or City Hall, which is located half-way across the Obere Brucke bridge and which houses a royal library and various collections.
A little way out of the city centre itself lies another of Bamberg’s most celebrated attractions the Altenburg. If you’re feeling active, you can reach this fascinating hilltop castle on foot by way of a scenic trail or by taking a taxi, though some excursion operators offer city tours which also call at the castle. Most of it has been rebuilt over the years and despite not being one of Germany’s most ancient castles, it is a delight to explore and is an excellent piece of architecture in its own right.
When it comes to the local brew, Bamberg is known for its smoked beer, with no fewer than eight different breweries in the town. Though beer-lovers’ tastes can vary, it’s definitely worth sampling the local Rauchbier when you pay the city a visit, whether you’re an aficionado or not.