Bamberg – Bavaria, Germany
A Treasure Chest of Architecture and Living Piece of History
Set like Rome on seven hills and justly known as one of the most beautiful small towns in all of Europe, Bamberg’s magic is inextricably linked to its rich history as capital of the Holy Roman Empire under Heinrich II, the town’s most famous son.
A treasure chest of architecture of all periods encased within a city that is by no means a static museum piece, Bamberg is a lively joy to visit for its history, antiques stores, and nine breweries. It’s been called a beer drinker’s Eden, producing more than thirty varieties, one of them (the smoky Rauchbier), first brewed in 1536. Even Munich can’t match that.
The wonderfully picturesque Altes Rathaus (town hall) must be one of Europe’s most photographed: half-timbered, frescoed, and built on its own little island in the middle of the River Regnitz. The imposing four-towered Kaiserdom, the city’s great cathedral, built under Heinrich II and site of his coronation in 1012, is testimony to Bamberg’s affluence as a powerful, ecclesiastical center and famous for its interior’s elaborate sculptural decoration.
The spacious, sloping Domplatz square is a textbook illustration of the town’s architectural evolution from Romanesque to Gothic and Renaissance to Baroque. There are more luxurious hotels in town, but for pure atmosphere, the classy Hotel St. Nepomuk wins out for its history as a former mill built in 1410, with many cozy rooms overlooking the river and the Rathaus, and a well-known restaurant specializing in regional cuisine.