The Wurzburg Palace in the afternoon and a night-time surprise

After a pleasant morning, enjoying the scenery along the Main River, we docked at Wurzburg around noon. Every evening Uniworld provides a schedule of the next day’s events including the tours of the day as well as arrival and departure times. The Ramblers noticed that almost every day the Maria Teresa reached her docking space ahead of the time listed on the schedule. We were pretty sure this was part of our Captain’s plan to secure the inside docking spot, so his passengers would not have to climb over another ship to reach the shore.

Rafting is a common occurrence along the Rhine and Danube in the warmer months .Many cruise ships sail these rivers during the summertime, and docking spaces at some of the smaller or more popular stops are often at a premium.

Our docking spot with a view of the Marienberg Fortress
Our docking spot with a view of the Marienberg Fortress

Rafting together  (tying up to another ship instead of the dock) isn’t much fun for the passengers for a number of reasons. First it is often necessary to climb a series of stairs to embark or disembark. Second, if your cabin faces another ship, you have no view, except of the stateroom facing yours on the other ship, along with  a distinct lack of privacy. This is when a balcony is not very useful, unless you want to meet the folks on the other ship. I’m sure the crew doesn’t like it either, as they have to tie up on two sides rather than just one.

The Maria Theresa tied up along the Main in a pleasant area along a wide sidewalk, close to a bridge over the Main. Across the river, there was an excellent view of the Marienberg Fortress high up a hill. Although we didn’t get to tour the fortress, I wasn’t too disappointed.

A floating art gallery whimsically named Noah's Arte!
A floating art gallery whimsically named Noah’s Arte!

As with many of the historic sites in Germany, it had been almost completely destroyed during WWII and underwent a lengthy restoration which wasn’t finished until 1990. I’m sure the Marienberg Fortress  is worth seeing as many of its treasures were saved, but we were scheduled to tour the Wurzberg Residence and  Court Gardens instead.

As we disembarked to board our buss, we noticed there were a number of other ships docked near-by including several Viking long ships, a floating art gallery and a casino-restaurant. When we returned from our tour, we would have a chance to stroll along the river and check them out.

Wurzburg is the largest city of the German region called Franconia and has been inhabited since 1000 BC. Like many of the German river towns, it occupied a strategic location, and quite early, prospered as a market town and religious center. Under the Hapsburg’s, it eventually became part of Bavaria. Unfortunately just before the German surrender in 1945, Wurzburg was nearly destroyed by allied bombers in a raid that lasted only 20 minutes. However, during that brief time, at least 87% of the city was destroyed and more than 4,000 Wurzburgers were killed.

The Wurzburg Residence, the former palace of the Wurzburg prince-bishops, had suffered serious damage during the bombing raid but it, like most of the city’s other historic sites has been restored since the war’s end.

Approaching the Residence
Approaching the Residence

Because of the intricacies of the ceiling frescoes and plaster work, this was a difficult task. The Residence is on the list of UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites as it is one of the most important baroque palaces in Europe. The building of light colored stone took 60 years to complete, with 20 spent on the exterior shell and 40 on the interior. The building contains one of the largest frescoes ever painted which depicts the four continents as they appeared to Europeans in the 18th century. The plaster details that were part of the ceiling decorations were particularly beautiful and worth the tour.

Colonnade Wing off to the side of the Residence
Colonnade Wing off to the side of the Residence

However, you will have to take the Rambler’s word for this as the Residence permitted no indoor photography and the Rambler obeys the photography rules.

In many ways, the palace was more impressive outside than inside, as the overlarge rooms looked somewhat forlorn as if missing the crowds of people that had once filled their spaces.

Not only is the fountain magnificent but it provided a place for weary tourist to sit.
Not only is the fountain magnificent but it provided a place for weary tourist to sit.

Our young guide seemed somewhat overwhelmed by her task and only too glad when she had finished her part of the tour. We were glad to escape ourselves, as these buildings, grand as they might be, provide only a glimpse of what they might have been to a modern observer.

The exterior of the Residence is magnificent, and was built to be seen; no foundation plantings marred our view of the building’s front and sides. Fortunately for day tripper, the wide expanse deliberately kept empty in front of the Residence, now provided a huge parking lot for cars and busses. There is a garden, of course, built for leisurely strolling, and we took a peek before boarding our bus for the return trip to the Maria Theresa.

Late summer flowers blooming in the Residence Garden
Late summer flowers blooming in the Residence Garden

In Wurzburg, we had the option of walking back to our boat, and many of the passengers took advantage of this option. As it turned out, they had a chance to stroll past historic places as well as the windows of shops selling designer clothing. Ten years ago, the Ramblers might have chosen this option, but the Senior Rambler’s back was hurting and I didn’t want to push my luck.

When we got back to the ship, we enjoyed a stroll along the river and inspected the other ships that were docked there. This was also a wonderful opportunity to do some people watching. Since the Maria Theresa wouldn’t sail until 10 PM, after dinner we had another chance to walk along the river.

Our ship aglow at night with Fortress in background
Our ship aglow at night with Fortress in background

It was even more fun this time as when we walked down the gangplank we were  surprised by the Maria Theresa’s night time appearance when docked. As the sun didn’t set until fairly late at the end of August, we had been underway before it was completely dark on the previous evenings.

Staying later in Wurzburg, we saw for the first time that our ship literally glowed in the dark, outlined with blue light. It was quite a sight.

View looking back at the Maria Theresa
View looking back at the Maria Theresa

We never saw any but the Uniworld ships lighted at night, although other lines may do this,needless to say, it was pretty spectacular. Of course, the lights go out, when the ship sails, so they don’t do this every night.

The Marienberg Fortress also glowed with light, as did several other historic buildings and churches along the river.

A beautiful end to a wonderful day along the Main
A beautiful end to a wonderful day along the Main

This made for a pleasant ending to another wonderful day on the river. Tomorrow we wouldn’t stop until late in the afternoon, at Schweinfurt.

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