Bamberg Germany is a wonderful medieval city that sustained very little damage during WWII since it was without military installation or production facilities. It has a unique town hall built in the middle of the river. When approaching the Bishop about construction, the town leaders were told that they could not built on church land; their solution was to build in the river. This is an exceeding charming town with its waterways and preserved original buildings. We took a short bus ride from our docking site to the city. We are still traveling on the canal joining the Danube and the Main Rivers. Berths are not too scenic.
We had a funny and informative guide who in her words “made her living on the streets”. Our walking tour began in new town where we passed the square where the market began. There was a large tree where residents could make a donation and place an ornament on the tree. The same square has a statute of Poseidon/Neptune with his trident. Because some residents are not up on their mythology, he has been nicknamed Goblmoo “Forkman” It is a popular meeting place for young people.
The market mostly still closed this early, we went on to the town hall with its beautiful and colorful frescos. A statuary angle stood out, pointing to the name of the artist, his form of advertising. This “island” is the link between the old and new town and is an area between the west bank of the river and Cathedral Hill. From the bridge, there is also a lovely view of little Venice. The flow of the river is powerful here. The generated power previously supported 40 mill wheels, today this hydro power serves 100 homes with electricity.
The beautiful medieval streets are lined with amazing homes and shops. Since visible are the iron signs indicating the type of merchant who had this shop there. Since most residents of this previous time could not read, the symbol signs were indispensable. We went up to the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. George. The archway of Adam’s Porch depicts St. Stephen, St. Cunigunde, and Emperor St. Heinrich II. Inside the sarcophagus depicts legends from the life of the Imperial couple, Cunigunde and Heinrich, who were later canonized.
The church also contains the statue of the Bamberg Horseman, a life-size statute (scaled as to the size of that time) of a knight and his horse. Although unidentified, it is now believed to be King Stephen of Hungary who is the husband of Gisela, sister of Heinrich II. The statute faces the spot where the sarcophagus of Cunigunde and Heinrich was originally placed.
Also of significance, the Cathedral contains the only known papal tomb north of the Alps. Pope Clement II who served briefly as pontiff in 1046 and is believed to have been poisoned is buried there. A side altar displays a wood altar panel with a Christmas theme. Our guide joked that it showed baby Jesus, Mary’s second child. Apparently, the original carved Jesus fell off when the honey-colored panel was died walnut in line with the fashion of the time.
Inside there is a lovely Nativity Scene which changes each week of Advent rather than including all the figures when it is set up. This is common in the churches in this very Catholic region of Germany.
Next to the Cathedral is the striking edifice of a plain chancery constructed in the German Renaissance style next to a beautiful gate with tow reclining figures representing the Main and Regnitz Rivers which merge in Bamberg. Since is where the palace of Emperor Heinrich II stood. The gate leads into an inner courtyard where the half-timbered medieval buildings have steep saddleback roofs that were originally kitchens, storerooms, stables, and a smithy. There were later used as apartments until fire codes discontinued that use. Today it is the sight of summer theater and concerts.
Leaving the Courtyard, we saw the Residence built for the Cathedral Bishops and ventured to the Rose Garden in the back where little “outhouses” protected the plants during the cold summer months. From the Rose Garden we also had a view of St. Michael’s Abbey. This former Benedictine Abbey was established in 1015. It is currently used as a retirement home and is under renovation.
Returning to the “new” town, we made a stop along the lower bridge connecting the Town Hall to look at Little Venice. These are the rear of picturesque houses from the 15th and 16th century build along the River Regnitz. There living rooms overlook the river, where normally houses were constructed with the living room facing the street. Their closed cellars used to be open halls for punt-like boats called schelche.
We were back by “Forkman” and St. Martin’s, a former Jesuit and University Church. The street widens here and it is common area for markets. We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon enjoying the Christmas market. After lunch, Boris is going on his beer tour and today is the River Heritage Cocktail Reception for returning guests, an oddity because it is held in the same lounge where the rest of the ship guests are, but in a roped off area. Good afternoon for a nap.
At this the beginning of our cruise, we are not actually on a city center river but an man-made industrial canal. It was never anticipated that there would be much passenger river traffic. One commercial boat a day was anticipated. Now, in additional to all the industry traffic, these canals see 10 river cruise boats a day.