Free Bamberg Walking Tour Map Germany Guide
Free Bamberg Walking Tour Map Germany Guide

Free Bamberg Walking Tour:


Walking Tour Location: Old Town Bamberg
Style: Do-It-Yourself Walking Tour (Self Guided
Start:
Bamberg Central Bus Depot (Promenade / ZOB)
End: Cathedral Square (Domplatz)
Walking Distance: 1.5 Miles (+.5 miles each way to Micheals Monastery or the upper beer gardens)
Time: 1 Hour for Walk (with attractions 5-6 hours)
Fun Scale: 9 out of 10

Overview of Old Town Bamberg:

Old Town Bamberg was a political force in the early-Medieval times which started with the construction of Babenberg Castle (Castrum) in the 800s on today’s Cathedral Hill.  In 995 Heinrich II became the Duke of Bavaria, moved his royal court to Babenberg Castle, and began reshaping central Bamberg on his way to becoming the Holy Roman Emperor.  Heinrich II’s largest change was in establishing the Diocese of Bamberg (Archbishop) and the massive Cathedral (Dom) which is the highlight of this free walking tour.

In the early-Middle Ages, beautiful Bamberg became so powerful that it was visited by Popes Benedict VIII and produced Pope Clement II.  In 1047, Pope Clement II was buried in the Cathedral and is the only Papal tomb North of the Alps.  King of Germany Conrad III (House Hohenstaufen), who ruled from nearby Rothenburg, was also buried in Bamberg Cathedral in 1152 after he died here.  During a period of no sitting Holy Roman Emperors, Conrad III was the most power man in Europe outside of the Pope and his family held the Imperial crown for generations.

As other cities like Nuremberg slowly surpassed Bamberg over the centuries, in Medieval times the city got caught up in The 30 Years War and witch trials.  Luckily most of the architecture and charm of the Little Venice of the North was preserved through the turmoil. Today following our free Bamberg walking tour map will lead you over the canals, along Medieval lanes, to royal palaces, into a unique beer culture, and through one of the best Cathedrals in Europe.


Suggested Walking Tour Route:

It only takes 24 minutes to walk from the Bamberg Train Station all the way up to Cathedral Square (Domplatz), but either a taxi or public bus can cut this down closer to ten minutes.  We prefer to start this walking tour either at the Bamberg bus depot or nearby Green Market as it reduces the amount of backtracking you will have later.  Because there is a long uphill staircase the last bit of the walk from Old Town Bamberg up to Cathedral Square, you will want to either taxi up or take a combo of Bus 907 & 910 (see map) if you have mobility issues.

You can also take numerous buses from the Train Station to the Schranne Bus Stop just below Cathedral Square in 10-minute which leaves you with a gradual 5-minute uphill walk to Cathedral Square.  Buses #901 & #991 are especially helpful on this route from the Train Station as after leaving the Schranne Bus Stop they also continue further uphill to the Würzburger Str. Bus Stop near two of Bamberg’s most famous beer gardens overlooking the city.







Bamberg Walking Tour:

1. Former Witch Prison (Malefiz Haus):

About The Witch Prison: While witch trials and religious pogroms are no longer a reflection of Bamberg today, it is important to know the history so it won’t be repeated.  During the heart of the 30 Years War, the population of Bamberg shrunk from over 12,000 to 7,000 due to religious conflicts, plagues, and famines.  To keep a hold on power during the turbulent times of the mid-1600s, the many churches blamed the Devil for local problems and sought out people to punish.  This mindset turned into mass witch hunts which saw over 1,000 people murdered in the Bamberg region.  It wasn’t an isolated notion either as 20,000 people around Germany and 60,000 in Europe were documented to be the victims of these Medievals witch trails.

The height of this rabid movement in Bamberg led to the building of the Witches’ House (Maleficent Haus) also known as the Witches’ Prison (Drudenhaus) which opened in 1627.  The feverish escalation was largely to do with a bad harvest in 1616 was a bad harvest and a horrid frost in 1626 that killed crops.  Thanks to a historical engraving from 1628 by Peter Ysselburg (found in 2005), we were able to get details on the floorplan and location of the Witches’ Prison.  The building was enclosed by a 10-foot-tall wall, had 26 single confinement cells, two larger cells for groups up to 20 people, and a very active torture chamber.  A small courtroom inside the Witches’ Prison was marked with a statue of Justice above the door and there was even a small chapel for final Catholic Confession before death.

People in Bamberg were sent to the prison after accused of witchery by enemies, neighbors, and even family members.  You would be accused, sent to the prison, tortured for a confession, brought upstairs to document your guilt in the “courtroom”, and then put to death by burning all within an average of 20 days time.  Up to 8 people would be burned alive at a time just outside the city walls.  Among the murdered were 5 mayors and numerous city councilmen.  In some cases, the Bishops would allow for mercy killings where the victims could be beheaded before burned in exchange for them signing over their possessions and property over to the church.

On 11 February 1632, the Protestant Swedish army marched into Bamberg as part of the 30 Years War and closed down the Witches’ Prison.  Within 3 years the cursed building was torn down and it marked the end of the Witch Trials in Bamberg.

2. Green Market (Grüner Markt):

About The Green Market: The pedestrian zone of Bamberg begins at the long Green Market (Grüner Markt) which stretches as far as three football fields. The entire length of the tree-lined lane is filled with market stalls selling produce and flowers from all over the region Monday-Saturday (closed Sundays).  There are even times in the Winter when the Green Market comes back to life, especial during the Christmas Market season.

As you work your way down the luscious lane, make sure to keep an eye out for the Humsera Fountain (Humsera Brunnen) which depicts an old market haggler.  The figure was added to the fountain in 1933 in honor of a member of the Humsera family who was a staple of the market and is said to have had a loose tongue and foul mouth.   Today her statue represents the centuries of Market Women (Markthoecken) who labored hard in the Green Market selling their goods.

Further down the Green Market is the most famous, and largest fountain on the pedestrian lane called the Neptune Fountain.  This location has been a meeting point among locals for centuries and was originally capped with a statue of Saint George as far back at 1337.  The statue was changed to a powerful version of Neptune in 1566 (rebuilt in 1698) who is locally called Man With A Fork (Gabelmann).  The Neptune Fountain is our favorite water feature on our free Bamberg walking tour.

Neighboring the Green Market to the Northeast is Maximilian Square (Maximiliansplatz) which has a delightful fountain but is otherwise a bit boring on most days.  Luckily this normally empty square does come to life for a few weeks a year during the Christmas season when it serves as a festive Advent market.  If there isn’t a market going on then simply see the Maximilian Fountain at the edge of the square and continue down the Green Market.

3. Geyerswörth Palace Island:

About Geyerswörth Palace: As the Regnitz River splits into a two-part canal, you get your first glance for why Medieval Bamberg was nicknamed Little Venice (Klein Venedig).  It’s these canals that powered the early mills and helped Bamberg grow.  One of the most powerful families along the river that was the Geyer family, who built a chateau complex called Geyerswörth across this small island in the 1300s complete with a private farm garden.  The courtyard of the chateau is open to the public and very pretty.

In 1580, the Bishop of Bamberg took over the Geyerswörth Chateau in 1580 and rebuilt it (1585-1587) to served as one of their many residences.  It was while the Bishops lived here that the Witch Trials in Bamberg really started to heat up.  The first victim was in 1595 which became to escalate further under two back-to-back bishops known as the Witch Burners.

Bishop Johann Gottfried von Aschhausen (1609-1622, also Bishop of Würzburg 1617-1622) set the groundwork burning 300 people and then Bishop Johann Georg Fuchs von Dornheim (1623-1633) took over.  From this residence in the Geyerswörth Chateau, they were aided by priest Friedrich Förner who followed The Witch Hammer (Malleus Maleficarum).  The Witch Prison was established in 1627 and the following year alone there were 192 documented trials.

The Bishops of Bamberg lost the property in 1703 and it became part of the Bavarian State government in 1803.  Today the grounds are far less sinister and are very pleasant to visit.  We love visiting the central courtyard for the Geyerswörth Chateau which is covered in vines and has an interesting tower.  The Hotel Villa Geyerswörth opened along the beautiful Geyerswörth Gardens in the center of the island in 2003.

4. Bamberg Town Hall Viewpoint (Geyerswörthsteg):

About Bamberg Town Hall: As you start to walk over the Geyerswörth Footbridge (Geyerswörthsteg) you’ll catch your first glimpse of the stunning Old Town Hall literally sitting right in the middle of the river.  This view is the most iconic in all of Bamberg and one of the highlights of this free walking tour.  Watching the river flow past the Medieval building from the flower-filled bridge is a reminder that Bamberg is best enjoyed when you take time to slow down and relax.

The Old Town Hall is first mentioned in 1387 and was built on an artificial island after the Bishop of Bamberg refused to grant the citizens land to build on.  The Gothic core of today’s Old Town Hall dates back to the 1461-1467 and the half-timber additional facing the footbridge was added in 1668.  Through Medieval times, there were also some prison cells located on the lower level which we imagine weren’t very pleasant.

Later on this free Bamberg walking tour, we will crisscross two bridges which the Old Town Hall is built on to see it and its famous Baroque mural facade up close.  Before leaving the Geyerswörth Footbridge, make sure to turn around and appreciate the Medieval watermills behind you which helped Bamberg thrive.  The Brother Mill (Brudermühle, website) at the end of the footbridge, which was a royal mill as far back as 896 (name since 1314, building from 1762), serves as a guesthouse with an excellent restaurant patio to grab a drink and gaze at the Old Town Hall.

5. Karolinen Street Shops (Karolinenstraße):

About The Karolinen Street Shops: the famous Käthe Wohlfahrt

Hofbräu

#8-14
opened in 1970 with cellars
Gothic and Renaissance paintings dating back to the 1400s and a large selection of wood carved religious art.
https://www.senger-bamberg.de/
the cellar is cool https://www.google.de/maps/place/Senger+Bamberg/@49.8909312,10.8847759,3a,75y,81.22h,87.81t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sDAoeH2Xy-SAAAAQJOHDldw!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x2a6f1efe6e3cced!8m2!3d49.891115!4d10.8858864

Antique store at #17 also has cellars you can go in
https://zauberhaft-bamberg.de/

6. Upper Town Hall Bridge (Obere Brücke):

About Upper Town Hall Bridge: Baroque and Rococo 1744-1756 with the allegorical murals, restored 1959-1962

ornate coat-of-arms by sculptor, Joseph Bonaventura Mutschele and angle statues which help to make the murals look three dimensional.

7. Fruit Market (Obstmarkt):

About The Fruit Market: SThe old Fruit Market (Obstmarkt) at the Eastern end of the Upper Bridge is an excellent place to take a break and rest your feet.  The center is a delightful emerald-color pond cradled by a multitier rock feature that creates natural seating.  Around the pond are also a couple of our favorite cafes in Bamberg to grab a cup of coffee while you relax.  The first is Café Zeis (website) and the other is Café Cador (website).  Both of the cafes serve food and have umbrella seating overlooking the small pond.  While coffee and piece of cake are the most common food items, they also have a number of traditionally Franconian dishes.

8. Canal Boat Docks:

About The Boat Docks: The Abattoir or Old Slaughterhouse (Altes Schalchthaus)

Bamberg’s old fisherman’s quarter is home to the Sanderkwa Folk Festival each August similar to the one in Nuremberg where participants water joust (Fischerstechen) in the river.

9. Lower Town Hall Bridge (Untere Brücke):

About The Lower Town Hall Bridge: Saint Kunigunde (Cunigunde of Luxembourg) statue was built in 1750 but is the only one of the 6 large statues on the lower bridge to survive the Flood of 1784.  She married Duke Heinrich IV of Bavaria in 1014 and became Empress.  After his death, she chose Conrad II (Salian) as King of Germany and he was also elected Holy Roman Emperor.   Emperor Henry II and Empress Cunigunde’s tomb in the Bamberg Cathedral which we will see later on this free walking tour.

Make sure to take in the relaxing views of the river and boat dock area from the first section of the lower bridge before going past the Old Town Hall again.  The bright blue Heller House Mansion is also very pretty to look at from the Lower Town Hall Bridge.

10. Schlenkerla Smoke Beer Brewery (Schlenkerla Rauchbierbrauerei):

About Schlenkerla: Today there are 9 beer breweries in Bamberg which seems like a lot, but in the 1800s there were 65 beer breweries!  In a town famous for beer, the Schlenkerla Tavern is the one place on our free Bamberg walking tour that you have to stop for a drink.  They start serving their world-renown Smoke Beer (Rauchbier) early at 9:30am out of wooden kegs and the vibe of the Medieval tavern is amazing.  The Schlenkerla is also known for there excellent food which we have eaten at a few times.

Schlenkerla still uses the old brewing method of drying their barley which goes back all the way to the Babylonians and Romans.  With the lack of sunny days in Medieval Germany, the drying in Bamberg had to be done in a kiln over an open Beechwood fire.  The result of this barley drying method was a very iconic smokey taste to the beer which is best described as almost bacon flavored.  This brewing technique was abandoned by most places when malt was industrialized in the 1800s, but it is still used at Schlenkerla.

The current tavern was first documented in 1405 (barrel makers in 1485) with the name House of the Blue Lion and their rock-cut Heller Brewery (originally called Eberlein) in Bamberg has been around since 1387.  The establishment has been managed under generations of just two families since 1767 making it a special place for locals to visit.  Unique to other taverns in town, the Schlenkerla also has a handy walk-up window to buy from even if you don’t get a table.  You’ll commonly see groups of people in the street in front of the pub drinking pints served fresh out of oak barrels.

Around 1886, the Heller Brewery grew a new nickname called Schlenkerla (pronounced Schling-kala) after the odd way the brewmaster Andreas walked.  He had bowed legs, a hitch step, and arms that would slinky around.  Today you can see a likeness of the beloved Andreas on the wrought iron sign on the front of the tavern.  You will also see an icon for the Blue Lion (original house name) and a star similar to the Star of David which was the symbol of the Medieval beer brewers in this part of Germany.  The dates 1405 for when the house was established as well as 1678 for when the brewery and tavern were formally joined in business.

The Old Inn Room (Altes Lokal) is the core of the tavern today and has been in operation since 1405.  The exposed centuries-old wood beams on the low ceiling have a dark color as they were painted with ox-blood over the centuries for protection.  The Medieval lamps, hanging engravings back to 1493, and the old ceramic stove, make the atmosphere of the Old Inn amazing.

Dominican Hermitage Room (Dominikanerklause) was built in 1310 as the chapel of the neighboring Dominican monastery which closed in 1802 and the became the property of the Bavarian military.  In 1926, Michael Graser (brewmaster and owner of Schlenkerla) leased the building which was later bought by his son-in-law and officially became part of the Schlenkerla Tavern.  The fantastic gold leaf paintings on the Gothic arched ceiling of this room are timeless.  Four iron lamps carry the signs of the guild of brewers, bakers, fishers, and butcher.  The Inner Courtyard (innerhof) of the former monastery also serves as the tavern’s beer garden in the Spring-Fall.

Tavern Location: Dominikanerstrasse 6.  Tavern Hours: Daily 9:30am-11:30pm; warm meals from 11:30am-10pm; outdoor beer garden open Easter until early-October.  Tavern Website: Here.



11. Little Venice (Klein Venedig):

About Little Venice: Lining the banks of the main canal in Bamberg are tightly packed rows of Medieval fisherman’s houses which lead to the city’s nickname as Little Venice (Klein Venedig).  Still today there is a constant flow of tour boats up this stretch of the Regnitz River and even some season gondolas.

The balconies extending over the river are romanticly filled with flowers, but in the early days of Bamberg, they were used to toss fish guts and meat scraps into the water.  Shallow bottom boats would cruise up and down the river while bringing the day’s catch to their homes for processing.  As you can imagine the amount of fish processing, hide tanning, and cattle butching along the river made it more smelly than desirable at times.

12. Cathedral Hill Steps (Dom Hügelstufen):

About The Cathedral Square Steps: 3/4 the way up the steps you will notice a vertical marker in the cement of the railing.  This line marked the divide between the holy domain of the Bishop and the that of the common man who lived in the village below.

13. Cathedral Square (Domplatz):

About Cathedral Square: Cathedral Square (Domplatz) The slope of the square resulted only as a result of the lowering of the cathedral square in the years 1777 and 1778, which made steps to the portals required. This level reduction was required to provide direct access to Bamberg’s city center. Before, the gate on the so-called “Torschuster” was the only access to Domberg. For the two new access roads from the east, two canons had to give way. Since then, a wall has been forming the eastern end of the cathedral square.

Trautmann wall (Trautmannsmauer) wall was opened and the Fortunata fountain (Fortunata-Brunnen) added in 1780.

The cathedral square was called Hofplatz or Burgplatz until secularization. Only the small area in front of the chapter house was called Domplatz. Then the new Bavarian rulers named the entire area in honor of the then Queen Karoline in Karolinenplatz. It was only after the end of the monarchy that the name Domplatz gradually became known and became the official name of the square in 1949.

While Heinrich II spent most of his time traveling around the Empire, his main base remained Bamberg’s Old Court.  During his reign, a huge Tattermann Column was erected near the entrance of the palace marking the official center (umbilicus imperii) of Heinrich II’s empire.  Sitting over 27 feet tall (8.5 meters) and capped with a 5.6 foot tall (1.7 meters) blessing Jesus (Tattermann), the column stood here until 1779 when the square was redone.  Today you can find a negative column marker placed in the pavement at the location of the column pointing toward Jerusalem.

14a. Bamberg Cathedral History (Bamberger Dom):

About The Bamberg Cathedral History: After being elected the King of Germany in 1002, Heinrich II tore down the former Babenberg Castle Chapel to lay the foundation for Henry’s Cathedral (Heinrichsdom) in 1004.  Heinrich II had already set up his Royal Court in Bamberg in as early as 995 and wanted his reign and capital to be divinely blessed.  During construction, he established his a new Roman Catholic Diocese here in 1007 before the Cathedral was consecrated on May 6, 1012 (his birthday).  With the establishment of a new Archbishop, it not only took power away from nearby Würzburg but also help Heinrich II on his path to becoming the Holy Roman Emperor in 1014.

In 1020, Pope Benedict VIII made a rare papal visit outside of Italy to see Emperor Henrich II and consecrate Thomas Chapel.  The Papal connection stayed strong as the 2nd Bishop of Bamberg, Suidger von Morsleben (1040-1046), went on to be elected Pope Clement II.  After dying of lead poisoning 11 months after taking office, he was brought to Bamberg where he was buried in the Western choir of the Cathedral.  Pope Clement II’s is the only Papal tomb North of the Alps.  In addition to Pope Clement II (died 1047), the tombs of Emperor Heinrich II (died 1024), King of Germany Conrad III (died 1152), and numerous Bishops can be found in the Bamberg Cathedral.

Massive fires on Easter of 1081 and again in 1185 which leveled most Cathedral Hill led to Henry’s Cathedral being rebuilt, although some of the original remains can be seen in the crypt today.  The second Bamberg Cathedral (Eckertdom) was completed in 1237 under Bishop Ekbert and pretty much looked then exactly like it does today.  Following the end of the Thirty Years’ War in 1648, the Bishop had the interior of the Cathedral redecorated in a brightly colored Baroque-style.  Nearly 200 years later Bavarian King Ludwig I had all of the Baroque details removed to bare stone in an effort to “purify” the Cathedral back to its Medieval roots.

14b. Bamberg Cathedral Tour:

Touring The Bamberg Cathedral: As you begin your tour of the 4-towered Bamberg Cathedral, we like to enter the Eastern doors facing the old town.  The Eastern door under the left tower is known as Adam’s Portal (Adamspforte) It has statues of Stephen, Empress Kunigunde, and Emperor Heinrich II to the left along with Saint Peter, Adam, and Eve (missing) to the right.  The Eastern door under the right tower is known as Mary’s Portal (Marienpforte) a central Virgin Mary being venerated by Saint Peter and Saint George along with the Empress and Emperor plus some Bishops.

Near the Eastern Doors, are also two even worn 11th-century lion statues from the original Heinrich’s Cathedral.  Legend has it that a lindworm dragon and two chimeras (half toad, half lion) were sent to sabotage the building of the church but were turned to stone.

As you enter the Bamberg Cathedral, the beauty of the original bare stone is stunning.  Remember that King Ludwig I had the brightly painted Baroque interior removed in 1847 to bring the church back to its Medieval appearance.  When the Cathedral was rebuilt from 1190-1237 they worked from East to West and you’ll see a blending of styles moving from Romanesque toward Gothic and you get reach the nave.

You have to look up at the supportive column as you enter the nave to see the famous Bamberg Rider (Bamberger Reiter) statue carved between 1225-1237.  The Rider is considered the first life-size equestrian statue (7 feet tall; 2.1 meters) since classical antiquity in the 500s and the first to show a detailed horseshoe.  A peom about the Bamberg Rider influenced Claus von Stauffenberg, the would-be assassin of Hitler who was a member of the cavalry unit from Bamberg.

The identity of the Bamber Rider has often been thought to be an Emperor or famous knight although no Imperial regalia or common identifications are used in the work.  Others also say it may be a personification of the ideal king.  To our best assumption, it is likely one of two men: German King Philip of Swabia who was assassinated during a visit to Bamberg in 1208 or King Stephan I of Hungary who is said to have ridden his horse into the Cathedral for its consecration in 1012.  King Stephan I was married to Emperor Henrich II’s sister, is said to have been baptized in Bamberg, and the rider looks toward the Western altar across the center of the Cathedral where Henrich II’s tomb originally sat.  The base of the statue has a face of the leafy face of the Green Man, who was a Pagan deity often meant to symbolize the Spring.

Near the Bamberg Rider is the gorgeous raised tomb of Emperor Heinrich II (died 1024) and his wife Kunigunde who built the first Bamberg Cathedral and founded the dioceses.  The tomb was carved out of marble and Franconian limestone by famous sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider over 14 years from 1499 to 1513.   The top cover shows detailed likenesses of the royal couple with scenes of their lives around the side panels.  The most interesting panel shows the Empress having to walk over hot coals to prove her innocence on a charge of adultery.  Originally the royal couple was buried at the center of the Cathedral along with German King Conrad III (died 1152) before the current tomb was finished.

The remains of King Conrad III were moved to an altar in 1646 then the Western Choir as the interior got its Baroque makeover.  Bavarian King Ludwig I moved Conrad III to a proper sarcophagus which is located in the crypt of the Eastern Choir along with some Bishops as he stripped out the Baroque interior.  The tomb of Emperor Heinrich II was also moved back about 30 feet between to its current location and behind it, you can peak down into the Eastern Crypt (only accessible with an official tour).

In the Western Choir, you will find the resting place of Pope Clement II (died 1147) which is the only Papal tomb North of the Alps.  The marble sarcophagus, carved in the early-1200s, shows the death of the Pope and the four Cardinal virtues among other scenes.  Below the choir is the Western crypt which you are free to explore without a guide.  This rough-cut stone crypt is original to the 11th-century Cathedral and is really cool to see.

After leaving the Bamberg Cathedral, make sure to also check out the wonderful entrance on the Northside of the building, known as the Prince’s Portal (Fürstenportal).  The carved details on the outside of the portal depicts the Last Judgement with the saved on the left of a throned Jesus and the damned on the right.  In Medieval times, the Prince’s Portal was reserved for high-ranking clerics who deemed themselves to be secular princes (Prince-Archbishops).

Church Tourist Hours: April on Weekdays 9am-6pm; Saturday 9am-4:30pm; Sundays 1pm-6pm.  May-October on Weekdays 9am-6pm; Saturday 9-11:30am & 1-4:30pm; Sundays 1pm-6pm. November-March on Weekdays 9am-5pm; Saturday 9am-4:30pm; Sundays 1pm-5pm.  Public Organ Concerts: May-October on Saturdays at Noon.  Entrance Cost: Free. Guided Tours: Daily guided tours in German take place at 10:30am (except Sundays), 1pm, and 3pm for 15€; English group tours with advance notice only for 65€.  Church Website: Here.

15. Diocesan Museum (Diözesanmuseum):

About The Diocesan Museum: Opened in 1966, the Diocesan Museum gives you a unique look back to some of the treasures during Bamberg’s time being ruled by the local Bishop (1007-1803).  There are tons of Medieval vestments, crosses, and statues, but the coolest items are the preserved textiles.  Our favorite piece is the blue and gold colored 11th-Century Star Cloak (sternenmantel) of Emperor Heinrich II.  There are also other textiles from Heinrich II and his wife Kunigunde along with Pope Clemens II’s papal regalia.

Visiting Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5pm; Closed Mondays; also Closed from mid-January through mid-February.  Entrance Cost: 4€ or an All Bamberg Museums Pass 12€.  Museum Website: Here.

16. Old Court Yard (Alte Hofhaltung):

About The Old Court: The location of today’s Old Court was once the home to the Babenberg Castle (Castrum) in as early as the 800s with the hilltop settled 200 years earlier.  The first known owner was Count Poppone I (819-839, Babenbergers), but the most famous member of his family at the castle was Italian King Berengar II who was exiled here in 963 (died in 966) by his former ally Emperor Otto I.  The castle became the property of the Holy Roman Empire in 974 and after Heinrich II became Duke of Bavaria in 995, the castle became his new royal palace.

As a descendant of Charlemagne the Great, Heinrich II quickly became the King of Germany (1002-24) and then the Holy Roman Emperor (1014-24).  Part of Heinrich II gaining the crown was his support to Benedict VIII in his contested bid to become Pope in 1014.  The relationship between the two men led to a rare papal visit outside of Italy in 1020 when Pope Benedict VIII came to Bamberg to hold court with Emperor Heinrich II in Babenberg Castle.  Not only did the Pope concentrate Bamberg Cathedral and Old Court’s Thomas Chapel in person, but it really helped put the city on the map as the center of the Empire.

While Heinrich II spent most of his time traveling around the Empire, his main base remained Bamberg’s Old Court.  During his reign, a huge Tattermann Column was erected near the entrance of the palace marking the official center (umbilicus imperii) of Heinrich II’s empire.  Sitting over 27 feet tall (8.5 meters) and capped with a 5.6 foot tall (1.7 meters) blessing Jesus (Tattermann), the column stood here until 1779 when the square was redone.  Today you can find a negative column marker placed in the pavement at the location of the column pointing toward Jerusalem.

A year after Heinrich II died in 1024, the Palace became the home of Bamberg’s Bishops but it remained important even after being rebuilt from the Fire of 1085.  The King of Germany Philip of Swabia was murdered in the Old Court while attending his daughter’s wedding in 1208 by Otto VIII of Wittelsbach, shortly before he was to be elected to the Emperor.

While the vast, but irregularly shaped half-timbered inner courtyard was started in 1475, the Archbishop rebuilt much of the Old Court as the grand complex you see today in 1568-1570.  The biggest changes to the former Old Court Palace included adding a new Council Chamber
(Ratsstubenbau) along with a Renaissance-style exterior.  If you look at the base of the Council Chamber’s bay window facing Cathedral Square, you can see a carving of Erasmus Braun who was the designer.

The most famous element of the 1568 rebuild is the Beautiful Gate (Schöne Pforte) entrance carved out of sandstone which, like the Council Chamber, was originally brightly painted.  The portal with the Virgin Mary in the center in front of a representation of what Bamberg Cathedral looked like at the time.  Mary is flanked by Emperor Heinrich II and his wife Kunigunde.
St. Peter on the left and St. George two bishops (believed to be Saint Otto and Kilian)
lying figures on the outiside represent Bamberg’s rivers the Main (to the left) the woman the Regnitz (to the right).

used as a state prison

irregular courtyard expanded in the 1400s.

they acquired Geyerswörth Palace in the 1500s.
courtyard used in the movie The Three Musketeers (2011).

Some of the exhibits in the museum include Everyday life in prehistory and the Middle Ages, Jewish life in Medieval Bamberg, Astronomy and Timekeeping, and access to walk through the Medieval horse stalls.  The museum has to close for much of the Winter because the Medieval building is not equipped for heating but does open for a special exhibit under the Christmas season when they turn the stables into a manager crib display.

You can also request to see the Kunigunde Chapel and remains of the 11th Century Thomas Chapel (Thomaskapelle) which was built on the lowerlevel of the watchtower that once stood here.  You can still see the deadicory inscription in the chapel.

Courtyard Hours: Daily dawn-dusk.  Museum Hours: May-October Tuesday-Sunday 9am-5pm, closed Mondays; November-April only open for special exhibitions including one during the Christmas Market each year.  Museum Cost: Adults 7€; teens & students 1€; Adults during Christmas 4€; All Bamberg Museums Pass 12€.  Museum Website: Here.

17. New Residence Palace (Neue Residenz):

About The New Residence:  The core of the New Residence (Neue Residenz) was built in 1602 as the main project in part of an expansion of power by the Bishops of Bamberg.  After surrendering the nearby Altenburg Castle retreat in 1553 (acquired in 1251) the Bishops the purchased Geyerswörth Palace (1580), rebuilt the Old Court (1595), built the New Residence (1602), and later built Seehof Palace (1686) as a summer getaway.   The Bishops were not only religious heads of the Bamberg Cathedral, but were also the secular rulers of the region through 1802.

The New Residence really started to take shape when the two massive Baroque wings that line Cathedral Square added from 1697 to 1703.  Today you get to tour 40 of the preserved staterooms, you will find original stucco ceilings, furniture, paintings, and tapestries.  The condition of the palace interior is remarkable, largely thanks to Bamberg avoiding any major damage from World War 2.  Our favorite room in the New Residence is the huge Imperial Hall which was decorated from 1707-1709 with 16 larger than life portraits of Holy Roman Emperors and a stunning fresco ceiling.

After the de-secularization of the church in 1803, the New Residence was often home to the Bavarian royal family on their visits to Bamberg.  On December 4th, 1808 Duke of Bavaria Maximilian Joseph (House Wittelsbach) was born in Bamberg’s New Residence.  Maximilian Joseph is best known as the father of the Austria-Hungary Empress Elisabeth nicked ‘Sisi’.  She was not only beloved but served as the longest ruling Empress of Austria at 44 years before she was assassinated by a fanatic.

Visiting Hours: April-September Daily 9am-6pm;  October-March Daily 10am-4pm.  Guided Tours: Visit with a guided tour only; leaves every 15–30 minutes; duration 45 minutes.  Entrance Cost: Adults 4.50€; teens & students 3.50€; Combo Ticket with Seehof Palace 7€.  Palace Website: Here.

18. Rose Garden (Rosengarten):

About The Rose Garden: There was a large inner courtyard behind the New Residence since at least 1602 and greatly expanded in a Renaissance-style in 1733.  Most of the wonderful Baroque statues you find in the garden today were added around 1760.  Among the figures, you’ll find representations of the Roman gods Jupiter, Juno, Neptune, Apollo, Venus, and Ceres along with small playful angels serving as allegories of the virtues.

In the 1800s, the garden got another huge upgrade when over 500 roses bushes were planted here.  Today these bushes have grown to nearly 5,000 flowers on 70 different rosebeds and are lined with lime trees in addition to the sculptures.  The pops of bright color and fresh fragrances the roses add to the garden in the Summer months are delightful.

The central tree-ringed fountain is also interesting, but our favorite feature of the Rose Garden is the magnificent views you get over Old Town Bamberg from the ramparts.  If you are looking to get some coffee, there is a small cafe (website) inside a pavilion (built in 1757) at the back of the Rose Garden.

Rose Garden Hours: April-September Daily 9am-6pm; October-March Daily 10am-4pm.  Rose Garden Cost: Free.

Other Sights Near Old Town:

19. Michael’s Hill Monastery (Kloster Michelsberg):

About Michael’s Hill Monastery: After being established in 1015, the complex was rebuilt in the 1100s by Bishop Otto after it was damaged by an earthquake.  Otto’s current raised tomb inside the monastery was carved in the 1430s and is really cool.  The top panel shows Otto holding a staff and the front has the Virgin Mary flanked by Saint Stephen and the Archangel Michael.  The sides show Emperor Henrich II and his wife along with John the Baptist.  The coolest thing is the passageway built right through the tomb which believed to have the power to help people with back pain as Otto famously helped heal Emperor Henrich II.

Benedictine path” traversing the former baroque gardens.  We also love the Neoclassical-style Holy Sepulchre

Museum Hours: Adults 7€; teens & students 1€; Adults during Christmas 4€; All Bamberg Museums Pass 12€.  Monastery Website: Here.

20. Special Beer Garden (Spezial Keller):

21. Jewish Street (Judenstraße):

22. Old Castle (Altenburg):

23. Special Brewery ( Brauerei Spezial):

24. Garden Museum (Gärtner Museum):