bamberg & erlangen

This post is a bit late in going up on the blog – but the semester ended today – so onward with blogging!
The last weekend in January, I traveled up to Bamberg and Erlangen, two really beautiful towns. They both lie in the state of Bavaria, but in a region north from Munich called Franconia. They speak a different dialect there than they do “down here” in Bavaria-proper, and a fun part of traveling around Germany is listening to the accents and dialects of the various regions.

Julius and I traveled first thing in the morning to Bamberg, where we spent the cold day exploring one of the most picturesque towns I’ve visited so far. I think when Americans who’ve never been here imagine what Germany looks like, they conjure up a picture of Bamberg in their minds.

a cobblestone alley leading to a courtyard

Perhaps Bamberg’s most famous view – the Altes Rathaus – or old town hall, which sits on an island in the river Regnitz, is interesting to look at from every angle. Bridges pass under  and on either side of the Rathaus, connecting two parts of the city. Crossing the Regnitz from the newer side of the city where we entered, under the Rathaus, and over into the older medieval side of the city (which is a UNESCO world heritage site – my understanding is that Bamberg survived the war untouched by Allied bombings) felt a bit like stepping back in time.

first look at the Altes Rathaus on the Regnitz
on the bridge that passes under the Rathaus
crossing back from the other side
The Rathaus on the left, spires of the Dom rising behind the ornate blue building, along with the timber-framed Fachwerkhaus at the end of the bridge – so many cool things encompassed in one view! 
This little area along the river is called Klein Venedig – or Little Venice. I want to live there!

We made our way up to the Bamberger Dom – or cathedral – which is the seat of the Archbishop of Bamberg. According to the Wikipedia article on the cathedral, there was a Christian settlement on this hill since ca. 600, and a cathedral was first built there around year 1000, then a new one in the first half of the 1200s. In the years following it was “Baroque-ized” then later purified to its Romanesque style by King Ludwig I of Bavaria in the 1830s. A famous feature of the cathedral is the Bamberger Reiter – or Bamberg Horseman – the oldest existing medieval sculpture of such a rider.

from the Domplatz, a view of the cathedral on the left with the two towers, 
and straight ahead the Alte Hofhaltung 
inside the Dom
the Bamberger Reiter
Walking up through the inner courtyard of the Alte Hofhaltung on the Domplatz – where the bishop used to live – dating back to the 16th century. We stood completely alone in this courtyard – something that would never happen in the busy tourist season. Once again, I noticed that one of the benefits of traveling off-season is taking pictures uncrowded by people.

Bamberg sits on 7 hills (kind of like Rome!), and atop each of the hills sits a beautiful building – a church, an abbey, an old palace. We didn’t go to the top of each hill – but there was nevertheless quite a bit of up-and-downhill walking to do. We went to Michaelsberg Abbey, which was closed for renovation, but were still able to enjoy tea and cake in the cafe there and also a great view!

This shot looks down onto Klein Venedig and the Regnitz. We also had a good view of the Dom from here.
After a full day in Bamberg, we took the train a bit south to Erlangen – which is Julius’s hometown. We were hosted by his lovely grandparents, we took a walking “tour” of the town center (I was glad to have an excellent local guide!), saw his old stomping grounds, visited with friends, and I got to hear childhood stories and even a bit of Franconian dialect come out! Here are a few views of Erlangen.
in a random courtyard
inside the Erlangen botanical gardens
I love this building – the characteristic sandstone and the beautiful blue shutters – my favorite color!
the University in Erlangen

This was a fun weekend – and my experiences of the two towns were really different – seeing one completely as a tourist and visiting the other as a hometown. I look forward to more upcoming travels and more blog writing!

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