Not surprisingly, after seeing the Stolpensteine, after viewing the stumbling stones, our little group of Gentle Walkers was somewhat subdued and thoughtful. However, our guide, Sabine, switched gears and began to talk about Bamberg’s historic past catching our interest with some fascinating history. Incidentally, if you do go to Bamberg and take a tour, be sure to ask your guide about the stumbling blocks. Since we thought it was the most moving thing we had seen, we mentioned it to our friends in the other Bamberg tour groups. Much to our surprise, we found that their guides had focused only on the historic past, and had not shown them perhaps the most important mementos on the tour.
Before we entered into medieval Bamberg, Sabine also showed us another unusual display. The city had constructed a relief map of the historic city which allows visually impaired visitors to see the town with their touch.
Bamberg is a city of two rivers, the Main and the much smaller Regnitz.
We would cross the Regnitz more than once as we cris-crossed the historic heart of the town. Along the much smaller Regnitz river is an area called “Little Venice.” Here centuries ago, fisherman had built their homes along the river bank and they are still there. Not surprisingly, there is no way to access the homes from the river side except by boat, so if you want a close-up view, you have to take one of the local boat tours.
Perhaps the most visited site in Bamberg is the old Town Hall, built on a very small island in the middle of the Regnitz river. The building dates back to the 14th century and is constructed in a very unusual style.
It stands out even more because the facade is covered with baroque style frescoes.
Bamberg legend says that the Bishop who governed the town in the 14th century, refused to give the townspeople any land for the construction of a town hall. They got around this by building on an unclaimed island in the river.
Sunday morning is probably not the best day to visit Bamberg because the churches were closed to visitors and the shops were not open on Sunday. We did get to see the statue of St. Cunigunde, the wife of Bamberg’s most famous son, emperor Heinrich II who was crowned in its cathedral in 1012 CE. Until her husband’s death, she ruled as Holy Roman Empress and had much influence in affairs of state.
She and her husband also gave much of their wealth away to aid the poor. Cunigunde is the patroness of Bamberg as well as the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Cunigunde and Henry are buried in the Bamberg cathedral. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see the cathedral interior but we did note her statue.
Bamberg was somewhat unusual in that during the middle ages, the town built bathhouses for the people, separate ones for men and women. Bathing was difficult at a time when almost no one had indoor plumbing of any kind.
Most people rarely took baths for this reason, but in Bamberg, citizens did have the opportunity to bathe for a small fee.
Our stay in Bamberg allowed some free time to explore the city which we enjoyed. We stopped for a coffee at one of the many local cafes with outdoor tables and watched locals and tourists stroll by. We did enjoy window shopping on the way back to our meeting place. I guess it saved us some money as we could look but not buy anything.
I though wistfully of the beautiful nativity scenes we had seen in this Bamberg shop window, especially after I dropped my plaster St. Joseph and he broke in three pieces. Fortunately, unlike HumptyDumpty, he was put back together again with super glue.
Then we wandered back to our pick-up point, and hopped a ride back to the Maria Theresa. Sometimes it was hard to find our way back with all the twists and turns of the narrow streets, but this was not the case in Bamberg.
We had noted a brightly colored cartoon display on way to our bus stop, and it was easy to locate on the way back.
The Maria Theresa spend the rest of the afternoon docked at Bamberg Bayernhofen Kai; we could have taken a tour of a Franconian farm and village in the afternoon, but decide instead to relax and enjoy the view from the Kai.
We set sail promptly at 5 PM; our next stop would be Nuremberg. En route, we would be traveling through the Main Canal towards the Danube.