City Profile: Bamberg

An impressively well preserved architectural ensemble of historic museums, buildings and churches in the Old Town has won Bamberg the UNESCO World Heritage title in 1993. The small town in Northern Bavaria has many different faces: It is a university town and a beer brewing hub, and owes much of its Franconian charm to its gorgeous location, built on seven hills and on an island. Since the foundation of its university 50 years ago, a lively night life with small bars and pubs has developed to meet the needs of Bamberg’s student population.

Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus)
Bamberg Old Town Hall
Bamberg Old Town Hall© DZT / Florian Trykowski

Mentioned for the first time in 1387 and built in the middle of the river, the old town hall is one of Bamberg’s most iconic buildings. According to legend, citizens rammed stakes into the river to create an artificial island after the Bishop of Bamberg had not granted any land for the construction of a town hall. The UNESCO World Heritage building’s trompe l'oeil façade never fails to impress, and an architectonic quirk catches the eye of the visitors: leg of a sculpture protrudes out of the wall. Today the old town hall accommodates the prestigious rococo hall and the Ludwig Collection.

Bamberg Cathedral (Bamberger Dom)
Bamberger Reiter
Bamberger Reiter | Verwendung weltweit© picture alliance / Hinrich Bäse

Just like the old town hall, Bamberg Cathedral is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Originally founded by King Heinrich II in 1002, today’s late Romanesque and early gothic building with four large towers dates back to the 13th century. Among others, it houses the tomb of the holy imperial couple Kunigunde and Heinrich II., the "Bamberg Horseman" shrouded in mystery and the papal tomb of Clemens II, the only grave of a pope still existing north of the Alps.

New Residence
Bamberg, Neue Residenz
Bamberg, Neue Residenz | Verwendung weltweit© picture alliance

With its splendid rooms, stucco ceilings and lavish furnishings, the New Residence is an impressive reflection of the prince-bishops' life. Painted by Melchior Steidl, the imperial hall is the heart of the residence, but the elector's rooms and the prince-bishops' apartments are well worth seeing, too. The state gallery contains a significant collection of old German and baroque paintings.

Rose Garden
Statuen im Rosengarten der Neuen Residenz, Altstadt von Bamberg, Oberfranken, Bayern, Deutschland, Europa | Verwendung weltweit© picture alliance / Arco Images

After your visit, rest in the Garden Pavillion’s tranquil café or stroll among the 4500 specimens in the famous Rose Garden in the New Residence’s inner court. A breath-taking view of Bamberg’s Old Town and the Michaelsberg and a wealth of Baroque sculptures all compete for your attention.

St. Michael's Monastery
Aussenansicht der Klosterkirche
Bamberg, Oberfranken: St. Michael. Ehemaliges Benediktiner-Kloster (1015 gegründet). Aussenansicht der Klosterkirche. Photographie. |© picture-alliance / IMAGNO/Gerhar

The baroque facade with its impressive flight of steps gives a first taste of the delights that await inside the church of St. Michael's Monastery. A neo-gothic reticulated vault houses the tomb of St. Otto and the "celestial garden", a fresco featuring 578 flowers and herbs. Take a stroll through the baroque terraced gardens, featuring a fountain and two pavilions, or take in the panoramic view of the city from the terrace behind the church.

Brewery tradition
Junge Menschen genießen am 08.06.2014 in der Sandstraße in der Bamberger Altstadt (Bayern) nach Sonnenuntergang kühlende Getränke vor einer Kneipe. Foto: David Ebener/dpa | Verwendung weltweit© picture alliance / dpa

With nine breweries in town and another 60 in Bamberg County, this region has the highest density of breweries in the world, producing more than 400 different beers. The best known beer is the smoke beer “Schlenkerla” or “Spezial” which smells like smoked ham. The best place to sample the local beers are the traditional brewery inns and the idyllic beer gardens called “Bierkeller”. In autumn, breweries celebrate tapping the Bock beer (“Bockbieranstich”), a strong lager.