Located over seven hills like another famous city, this Bavarian town is nicknamed the "Franconian Rome". Picture perfect around every corner, Bavarian Bamberg has one of Europe’s largest intact old town centers which is officially recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its medieval plan, winding narrow streets and half-timbered architecture are the holy grail of fairy tale Germany.
But the city is more than just a gorgeous still life. Universität Bamberg brings in over 10,000 students, the nearby US Army Base has around 4,000 members and dependents, and there are nearly 7,000 foreign nationals that reside here. On an average weekend night, the downtown is a mixing pot of international locals.
Here is where to start your visit with the seven top attractions in Bamberg, Germany.
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Precariously perched above the river Regnitz on an artificial island, the old town hall is connected to the rest of Bamberg by two bridges. Its odd location is attributed to a dispute with the bishop where the townspeople were not allowed to build on the mainland so they created a safe haven from which to rule their city.
The building is decorated in a hodgepodge of styles with allegorical paintings on both sides showing how the Rathaus was created. Observe the decorative balconies, Baroque details and cheeky cherub. Inside, the Ludwig Collection is on display with 18th-century delicate figurines and porcelain.
Address: Obere Brücke, 96047 Bamberg
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 9:30 - 16:30
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From Altes Rathaus you can see the Klein-Venedig ("Little Venice") section of Bamberg. This fishermen's district encapsulates the charm of the town with a row of colorful 14 to 17th Century half-timbered houses. Walk the crowded waterfront that serves as the stage for the yearly Sandkerwa festival in August.
Address: Am Leinritt 96047 Bamberg
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Explore the four wings of the New Palace with tours of over 40 state rooms decorated with 17th and 18th century tapestries. In the Imperial Hall there are 16 magnificent portraits of emperors. This was the seat of Bamberg's prince bishops until 1802.
Overlooking the city, a baroque Rosengarten (rose garden) features more than 4,500 types of roses and superb views of lower Bamberg.
Address: Neue Residenz, Domplatz 8, 96049 Bamberg
Hours: Daily; April to September 9:00 - 18:00 and October to March 10:00 - 16:00
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This cathedral was founded in 1004, burned down in the 11th and 12th centuries and the current structure was completed in the 13th century. It towers over the Altstadt (old city) and holds the tombs of Emperor Henry II and Pope Clement II, the only papal burial ground north of the Alps. Look for the mysterious statue of the Bamberger Reiter from the early 1200s which serves as a symbol of the city and join one of the many Guided tours and organ recitals.
Address: Domplatz 5, 96049 Bamberg
Hours: Daily; April to October 9:30 - 18:00 and November to March 9:30 - 17:00Continue to 5 of 8 below.
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The city is known for its brewery scene and unique Rauchbier (smoke beer). Sample the beer at all nine of its traditional breweries and then walk the city center to gain an appreciation of the impeccable downtown.
Address: Locations throughout Bamberg
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This monastery provides a picturesque backdrop to the rose garden, or for visitors that make the trek up, a panoramic view back at Bamberg. Founded in 1015 in the Baroque style, the church was rebuilt after a fire in 1610 in the neo-Gothic style. Upon entering the church, look up to observe the "Garden of Heaven", a ceiling painting of 578 flowers and medicinal herbs.
Address: Franziskanergasse 2, Bamberg
Hours: Currently closed for restoration with an estimated re-opening in 2021 at the earliest
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Located next door to the cathedral and with the halls of the Alte Hofhaltung (old court hall), Bamberg's historical museum covers the complete background of the city as well as a large art collection, coins and astronomical and mathematical tools. At Christmas, visitors will find a compilation of nativity scenes.
Address: Domplatz 7, 96049 Bamberg
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00 - 17:00; From November to March only open for special exhibitions
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Located on the tallest hill of Bamberg, the current structure dates back to 1109. After going through several owners and periods of abandonment, the castle has been refurbished and is now open for tours and events.
Address: Altenburger Strasse 115, 96049 Bamberg
Hours: Grounds open daily; Restaurant 11:30 - 14:0o and 18:00 pm - 21:15