The 22 best sights of Bamberg – descriptions and photos

Bamberg – Germany’s medieval city on seven hills

Bamberg, Germany is an old German town on the banks of the river Regnitz. It is one of the few places in Europe where the spirit of the Middle Ages still lingers, and people lead as unhurried a life as they did centuries ago.

The town's waterfront

Overview

Bamberg is a Bavarian city in central Germany. It stands on the river Regnitz. Covering an area of 54.58 square kilometers. Its population is 70,000 people. The city is 230 km from Munich, 62 km from Nuremberg, 81 km from Würzburg.

The city was named after the area on which it stands – on seven hills. For the same reason Bamberg is often called the “German Rome”.

The city is known as one of the centers of brewing in Bavaria (the oldest brewery was opened in 1533 and is still in operation) and is the location of Otto Friedrich University – the oldest university in Bavaria.

View of Old Town

Bamberg is unique in that it is one of the few European cities that survived World War II. In 1993 it was put on the list of specially protected sites in Germany. By the way, there is an interesting legend connected with the amazing luck of the city during the war. The locals believe that St. Kunigunda (Bamberg’s patron saint) shrouded the city in thick mist during the raids, and that’s why it didn’t suffer.

Attractions

Even if Bamberg isn’t as popular as Munich or Nuremberg, you can still see lots of tourists who don’t want to see buildings that were rebuilt after the war, but the real architecture of the 17th and 19th centuries.

In our list – the best sights of Bamberg in Germany, which you can visit in one day.

Old Town (Bamberg Altstadt)

As mentioned above, the Old Town of Bamberg is preserved in its original form: narrow streets between houses, cobblestones, lush Baroque churches, small stone bridges connecting different parts of the city and three-story houses of local residents.

Most of the houses of local residents were built in the traditional for Germany style of half-timbered architecture. The main feature of such buildings are wooden beams, which simultaneously make the structure both more durable and more attractive.

Public buildings are built in the Romanesque style. They are built of dark stone and there are no decorations on the facades of the buildings.

Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus)

The old town hall is the main attraction of the city of Bamberg in Germany. It is located in the city center and differs greatly from most European town halls. The building reminds something between a church and a house. Such an unusual style is due to the fact that the town hall was rebuilt several times. Originally it was quite a simple building, to which, in the 18th century, was added another building in the Baroque style. After that were added Rococo elements.

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It is interesting that the landmark was erected on an artificial island (and the case took place in 1386) and it is surrounded on both sides by bridges. This unusual location is explained by the fact that both the bishops and the city authorities wanted the landmark to be erected in their territory. In the end, a compromise had to be made and a building had to be erected on a site that was not part of anyone’s domain.

Now the town hall is a museum, whose main pride is the rich collection of porcelain donated to the city by the Ludwig dynasty.

  • Location: Obere Muehlbruecke 1, 96049 Bamberg, Germany.
  • Opening hours: 10.00 – 17.00.
  • Price: 7€.

Cathedral

The Imperial Cathedral of Bamberg is one of the oldest surviving churches in Bavaria. Was built in 1004 by Henry II the Holy.

The exterior of the building was built in the style of Gothic and Romanticism. The temple has four tall towers (two on each side), on one of which hangs the main city clock.

Interestingly, it is one of the longest cathedrals in Bavaria. According to the emperor’s idea, the long corridor that leads from the entrance to the altar should symbolize the difficult path that every believer takes.

The interior decoration of the cathedral is stunningly beautiful and rich: a mass of carved sculptures, golden bas-reliefs and plaster figures of saints. On the walls at the entrance there are 14 paintings depicting the Way of the Cross. In the center of the attraction is an organ – it’s quite small, and you can’t call it incredibly beautiful.

Pay attention to the Nativity altar, which is located in the southern part of the building. Also check out the west side of the cathedral. Here you will find the tombs of the Pope and one of the local archbishops.

Interestingly, in the interior of this Bamberg landmark, you can see images of monsters (the style in which they are painted is characteristic of the Middle Ages). According to historians, such unusual paintings appeared on the walls of the temple because of the greed of one of the archbishops: the painters, who were strongly underpaid for the work, decided to take revenge.

  • Location: Domplatz 2, 96049 Bamberg, Germany.
  • Opening hours: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (however, locals note that the cathedral is often open outside business hours).

New Residence

The new residence is the place where the archbishops of Bamberg lived and worked. The original location was the Geierswerth Castle, but this building seemed too small to the church officials, so the construction of the New Residence was begun (completed in 1605). The building was used for its intended purpose until the 19th century.

Now in the New Residence is a museum, which contains world famous paintings, porcelain and antique furniture. In all, tourists can visit 40 rooms, the most notable of which are:

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The Bamberg State Library, which is located on the west side of the New Residence, is also worth checking out.

A favorite destination for locals is the rose garden, which is located near the residence. In addition to beautiful flowerbeds and hundreds of species of roses, the garden features sculptures, fountains, and a plaque on which you can read the names of all those who created this beautiful place.

  • Allow at least 4 hours to visit this attraction.
  • Location: Domplatz 8, 96049 Bamberg, Bavaria.
  • Opening hours: 10 am – 5 pm (Tuesday – Sunday).
  • Cost: 8 euros.

Theater of Shadows

Since there are not many theaters and philharmonic societies in Bamberg, in the evenings tourists and locals like to come to the Theater of Shadows. The average performance lasts 1.5 hours, during which the audience will be told an interesting story about the creation of the city, show how people lived in different times and immerse the audience in an atmosphere of mystery.

Tourists who have already visited the performance are advised to come to the Theater of Shadows in advance: before the performance you can examine the scenery and puppets close up, visit a small museum of props and talk to the artists-decorators.

  • Location: Katharinenkapelle | Domplatz, 96047 Bamberg, Germany.
  • Opening hours: 17.00 – 19.30 (Friday, Saturday), 11.30 – 14.00 (Sunday).
  • Price: 25 euros.

Little Venice

Little Venice is often called the part of Bamberg, which is located on the waterfront. Tourists say that this place does not look like Venice, but it really is very beautiful.

The locals like to just walk here, but it is better to rent a gondola or a boat and take a ride through the canals of the city. Also don’t miss the opportunity to take some beautiful pictures of Bamberg in Germany.

Location: Am Leinritt, 96047 Bamberg, Germany.

Fortress of Altenburg

Altenburg is a medieval fortress in Bamberg, located at the top of the city’s highest hill. For centuries knights fought here, and after the castle stood abandoned for almost 150 years. The restoration of the castle took place only in 1800.

Now in the fortress there is a museum, the entrance to which is free. Note the so-called bear’s corner – there is a stuffed bear, which lived in the castle for more than 10 years. Also in the castle there is a cafe and restaurant, but they work only during the warm season.

Tourists who have been in Altenburg, advise to rent a cab or take the bus – on foot here is better not to go, because there are very steep slopes.

Be sure to look at the observation deck of the attractions – you can take beautiful pictures of the city of Bamberg.

  • Location: Altenburg, Bamberg, Bavaria, Germany.
  • Opening hours: 11.30 am – 2 pm (Tuesday – Sunday), Monday off.

Where to stay

Hotels in the City

Bamberg is a small city and there are less than 40 hotels for tourists. Accommodation should be booked in advance, as this Bavarian town is very popular among travelers.

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The average price for a room in a 3* hotel for two people per night during the high season ranges from 120 to 130 dollars. This price includes a buffet breakfast, free Wi-Fi, and all the necessary appliances in the room. Most hotels have facilities for people with disabilities. Many 3* hotels also have saunas, spas, and cafes.

5* hotels in Bamberg are willing to take tourists for $160-180 per night. This price includes a good breakfast (rated “excellent” by tourists), free access to the gym and spa.

Remember that all attractions in Bamberg are not far from each other, so there is no sense to overpay for a room in the heart of the city.

So, even in such a small German town like Bamberg you can find both simple 2* hotels and expensive 5* hotels.

Meals in the city

Cafe in town

Bamberg is a small student town, so expensive restaurants are few. The most popular among tourists enjoy a small cozy cafes in the city center and breweries (about 65 in total).

Travellers who have been to Bamberg, recommend visiting the old brewery Klosterbräu, where beer has been brewed since 1533. Despite the popularity of the establishment, the prices here are not higher than in neighboring breweries.

Dishes and drinks Price (euros)
Herring with potatoes 8.30
Bratwurst (2 sausages) 3.50
McMeal at McDonalds 6.75
Piece of strudel 2.45
Slice of Black Forest Cake 3.50
Bagel 1.50
Cup of cappuccino 2.00-2.50
Large mug of beer 3.80-5.00

The average bill for lunch per person is around 12 euros.

All prices on this page are for July 2019.

Helpful tips

View from the Hill

    View from Altenburg Hill
  1. If you want to visit the Altenburg fortress, try to come in summer – in winter it is very difficult to get there because of the snow, and the observation deck is not working.
  2. Because Altenburg Fortress is located on the top of a hill, it is always very windy here.
  3. Tickets to the Theater of Shadows must be purchased in advance, as the place is very popular.
  4. If you get hungry, tourists are advised to look into the restaurant Franconian cuisine “Kachelofen”. The menu has a wide selection of traditional German dishes.
  5. Christmas gifts are best bought in the small store near the Old Town Hall. Here is the largest selection of Christmas decorations and souvenirs.
  6. To explore the city and feel its atmosphere, it is better to come to Bamberg for 2-3 days.
  7. The best way to get to Bamberg from Munich is by bus (runs 3 times a day) Flixbus.

Bamberg, Germany is a cozy Bavarian town that deserves no less attention than the neighboring cities.

See the video “What to see in Bamberg in a day”.

Author: Maria Protasenya

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The 22 best sights of Bamberg – descriptions and photos

Altenburg Castle was built on the highest of Bamberg’s seven hills, above the city, and it happened in 1109 (at least that’s the year the first mention of the castle is dated, although it looks very much like it was built on top of an earlier fortress).

Bamberg Cathedral

Bamberg Cathedral in its present form was built in the 13th century. But this magnificent Romanesque building was originally founded by Emperor Henry II in 1002 and the cathedral was consecrated in 1012. The first building was partially destroyed by fire in 1081.

Bamberg Old Town Hall

The Old Town Hall in Bamberg is the most photographed city building in the city. It was built in the middle of the river Regnitz and not on an island. The townspeople dragged huge logs into the river to build it.

St. Michael’s Abbey in Bamberg

Saint Michael’s Abbey in Bamberg (Michael’sberg) is an old Benedictine monastery that has housed an almshouse since its closure in 1803 and continues to this day. After the bishopric of Bamberg was formed, which took place under Emperor Henry II.

The new residence and rose garden in Bamberg

The new residence with its stunning halls and sumptuous furnishings remains an impressive illustration of how the prince-bishops lived in Bamberg. The palace served as the bishop’s residence until 1802. It has more than 40 rooms, one more beautiful than the other, including frescoes, furniture and carpets from the 18th century.

It cannot be said that the name Bamberg, which is funny to our ears, is the first thing that comes to mind when mentioning Bavaria. And yet hundreds and thousands of tourists visit this beautiful and interesting city for its many and varied attractions. A good place to start a walk in Bamberg is the statue of Neptune in the pedestrian zone. The people of Bamberg call this statue “Gabelmann” because Neptune is holding a trident and the three-toothed fork is called “habel” in German.

The area around it is called the Grüner Markt (“Green Market”). This place was the center of the bourgeois settlement that grew around it during the Middle Ages. Very close is the large Maximilianplatz square, very lively on market days. Here you can shop, admire, eat traditional sausages and taste traditional Bamberg beer. On the square stands the former Jesuit church, built by Georg Dinzenhofer in the late 17th century.

The names of nearby streets can tell a lot about the history of the city. There is Fish Street, which leads to the left branch of the river Regnitz. The arm itself, together with the Old Canal, forms an island in the eastern part of the city, on which you can see the really old buildings (the oldest, built by tanners, date back to the 16th century).

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The people of Bamberg call this statue “Gabelmann” because Neptune is holding a trident and the three-toothed fork is called “habel” in German.

In the middle of Regnitz stands the Old Town Hall of Bamberg, and it is a fascinating building. It is surprising both because it is not built on an island, as one might think, and because it consists of two parts of different ages. One is pure half-timbered right above the river, the other is lush baroque. One of the walls of the Town Hall has wonderful frescoes on the outside, and the two bridges that connect it to the city offer wonderful views.

Bamberg has its own Little Venice (something similar can be seen, for example, in Strasbourg). It’s a charming quarter of charming 19th century fishermen’s houses lined up along the Regnitz.

After a steep climb up a cobblestone street, tourists reach Domplatz, the Cathedral Square, which is stunningly beautiful. All the buildings on the square are made of local sandstone, although they were built in different historical periods. Bamberg Cathedral (aka Kaiserdome – “Imperial Cathedral”) is an amazing building in Romanesque and Gothic architectural styles. Every traveler must see the “Bamberg Rider” in front of the cathedral, as well as the many stone sculptures inside.

Another interesting site on Cathedral Square is the medieval “Alte Hofhaltung,” a 15th-century courtyard with a long row of two-story buildings and a wooden gallery. And across the street is the New Residence, the former bishop’s palace, which has a wonderful landscaped rose garden in its courtyard. From the garden we can see St. Michael’s Abbey at the top of the hill in all its glory. If you walk back to the river you come to Sandstrasse, famous for its pubs and nightlife.

Bamberg Museums

Bamberg’s museums may not be huge, but they are very interesting. In the Old Town Hall, for example, is the Ludwig Collection Museum, which contains about three hundred beautiful examples of porcelain and faience, including Meissen and Strasbourg. In the New Residence is a remarkable art gallery of old German and baroque paintings. And in the beautiful Villa Dessauer, built in 1884, is today a modern art gallery.

The surroundings of Bamberg

The surroundings of Bamberg are also worth a visit, and not only for their natural beauty. There are several good cycling routes here. In particular, the route along the river Regnitz is particularly popular and takes you to, for example, Altendorf – “pumpkin village” about 15 km east of Bamberg. It’s a quiet, idyllic village near the Main Danube Canal and is well known for its pumpkin dishes and annual pumpkin festival.

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