index heading

Würzburg, Germany

Würzburg is a city in the region of Franconia, at the northern edge of Bavaria on the River Main. Beginning in about the 10th century, Würzburg was ruled by a series of wealthy and powerful prince-bishops. The citizens revolted several times against the prince-bishops until finally defeated in 1400. Later Würzburg was the center of the German Peasants' War. In 1814 the city became part of the Kingdom of Bavaria.

On March 16, 1945, nearly 90% of Würzburg was devastated by a massive air raid carried out by 225 Royal Air Force bombers. Almost all of the city's churches, cathedrals and public buildings were heavily damaged or completely destroyed by the resulting firestorm. An estimated 5,000 people perished in the blaze and the city center which dated from medieval times was flattened. Würzburg surrendered to American forces in early April, 1945. Over the next twenty years all of the historical buildings were accurately replicated, largely by the citizens -- mostly women -- and the entire city was rebuilt. After the war the city was host to the U.S. Army's Third and First Infnatry Divisions and several other units until the bases were closed and the units withdrawn in 2008, ending over sixy years of U.S. military presence in Würzburg.

Fortress Marienberg

The Fortress Marienberg is a very prominent landmark of Würzburg that sits atop a hill next to the River Main. It originated as a church and small fortress built in the early 8th century and was home to Würzburg's prince-bishops for 500 years. The castle fell to Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden in 1631 and was reconstructed in the baroque style. In World War II the fortress was almost completely burned out in the March 16, 1945 raid and was captured by the US 42nd Infantry Division in early April, 1945.

Alte Mainbrücke

Another famous landmark of Würzburg is the Alte Mainbrücke or "Old Main River Bridge" started in 1476, replacing the nearly 350 year old Roman stone bridge that had previously stood at the site. In the 18th century twelve statues of saints and other famous persons connected with Würzburg were added to the pillars of the bridge. Part of the bridge was blown by retreating German troops on April 2, 1945. The statues include Pipinus, Frankish king and father to Charlemagne (pictured); Totnan, a missionary and companion of St. Kilian who was martyred in Würzburg in 689 (pictured); St. Friedrich, a bishop of Würzburg; St. Kilian, an Irish missionary, bishop and apostle of Franconia; Saint Josephus with young Jesus (pictured); the Virgin Mary depicted as Patrona Franconia; Saint John of Nepomuk (pictured); St. Colonatus, another companion of St. Kilian's also martyred in 689; St. Carolus Borromaus, an important representative of the Catholic counter-reformation; St. Burkardus, first bishop of Würzburg; Charlemagne, famous King of the Franks and Emperor of the Romans; and St. Bruno; Bishop of Würzburg and builder of the cathedral.

Würzburg Cathedral

Würzburg Cathedral, dedicated to St. Kilian, was built from the year 1040 onward by Bishop Bruno of Würzburg. It's actually the third church to stand on the site, the previous two having been destroyed by fires in 787 and 855. After Bruno's death in 1045 his successor Adalbero completed the cathedral in 1075. A large portion of the building collapsed in the winter of 1946 on account of damage caused by the Allied bombing raid the previous year. The reconstruction was completed in 1967 with an emphasis on a return to Romanesque style.

Residenz of Würzburg

The Residenz of Würzburg is one of the most important baroque palaces of Europe. Commissioned in 1720 by the prince-bishop of Würzburg and completed in 1744 it was dubbed the "nicest parsonage in Europe" by Napoleon. The Franconia Fountain was unveiled in 1894 as a tribute to the city of Würzburg and the whole Franconia. It's surmounted by a figure of Franconia and at its base are seated statues of Mathias Grünewald, a 16th century painter; Walther von der Vogelweide, a 13th century poet and Tilman Riemenschneider, a 16th century sculptor and painter -- three artists whose names are connected to the city and whose work are still part of the city's culture. The Residenz was heavy damaged and almost completely burned out by the Allied bombing raid in March, 1945 and restoration has been ongoing since.

Adalberokirche

The Adalbero Church is dedicated to St. Adalbero, an 11th century bishop of Würzburg and was completed in 1899 in the neo-romanesque style. It was designed by famous cathedral architect Franz Josef Ritter von Denzinger in the Sanderau District of Würzburg which was lacking a parish church for its growing population.

Deutschhauskirche

The Deutschhauskirche was built between 1270 - 1320 as a church of the Teutonic Order. It's unusual in that its high gothic style has survived to the present day with very little change. In 1805 the state seized the church and used it as an artillery magazine until 1922 when it was used as a Protestant church. The church survived the bombing of Würzburg in March, 1945 without any major damage.