10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Bamberg
Bamberg, the most important community in Upper Franconia in Bavaria, lies on the western edge of a wide basin in the valley of the Regnitz, a river, which flows into the Main seven kilometers downstream. The oldest part is the episcopal town on the high west bank of the left arm of the river, with the cathedral and the old Benedictine abbey of Michaelsberg. The "Bürgerstadt" (borough) lies between the two arms of the Regnitz.
Bamberg is a university town and an important center for cultural festivals and activities, and its symphony orchestra has an international reputation. The town's wonderfully preserved historic downtown area with its medieval architecture, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is famous for its seven hills, each crowned with a lovely old church.
See also: Where to Stay in Bamberg
1 Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus)
There's no better place to begin a walking tour of Bamberg's Old Town than at Obere Brücke, the Upper Bridge that offers superb views of Klein-Venedig - Little Venice - with its quaint old fishermen's houses. But what you're really here for is the superb Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus) in the middle of the bridge. While a town hall had been located here as far back as 1386, the existing structure was rebuilt between 1744-56 to serve both the Bürgerstadt and the episcopal town. It's a stunning piece of architecture, in particular due to the lovely frescoes adorning its facades, and which depict the (tall) tale of how the building came to be built on the island. Inside, highlights include the beautiful old Rococo hall and the Ludwig Collection with its more than 300 exquisite 18th-century animal-shaped tureens, figurines, and dinner services made of porcelain.
Address: Altes Rathaus, Obere Brücke 1, 96047 Bamberg
2 Bamberg Cathedral
The early 11th-century Bamberg Cathedral (its full name is St. Peter's and St. George's Imperial Cathedral) boasts numerous features of interest, including the Prince's Doorway (Fürstentor), the principal entrance with its figures of apostles and prophets and a relief of the Last Judgment. Inside, is the tomb of Emperor Henry II, who died in 1024, along with his wife Kunigunde, while in the choir is the figure of the famous Bamberg Horseman dating from 1240. On the outside of the stone choir screen are figures of the 12 apostles and 12 prophets, and on a pillar between the prophets are Mary and Elizabeth. Another notable tomb is that of Pope Clement II from 1047, the only Papal tomb in Germany. Guided tours are available, as are frequent organ recitals. Also of interest is the Diocesan Museum with the cathedral treasury, old vestments (including Henry II's imperial robes), and statues.
Address: Domplatz 5, D-96049 Bamberg
3 The Old Court - Alte Hofhaltung
Bamberg's timbered Alte Hofhaltung, the Old Court, is considered to be one of the finest creations of the German Renaissance. Built as the Bishop's palace in 1576, it now houses the town's Historical Museum with its fine collections of applied and decorative art. A highlight is the Beautiful Gateway, a sculpted masterpiece by Pankras Wagner that portrays Saints Peter, George, and Heinrich against a backdrop of the Main and Regnitz rivers. From here, you can explore the lovely romantic inner courtyard - the scene of many outdoor concerts - with its half-timbered buildings, as well the Museum of History and St. Katherine's Chapel.
Address: Domplatz, 96049 Bamberg
4 The New Residence
Built between 1695-1704, the New Residenz (Neue Residenz) includes the Prince-Bishop's residential apartments, the Gallery of German Art with its Heisterbach Altar, and a collection of paintings from the 15th -18th centuries, as well as the State Library (guided tours are required and last 45 minutes). A highlight of any visit should be the courtyard with its beautiful rose-garden and magnificent views. Designed by Balthasar Neumann, the garden, laid out symmetrically and festooned with numerous statues, sees in excess of 4,500 roses in bloom each summer. Afterwards, spend some time taking refreshments in the lovely pavilion café overlooking the garden.
Address: Domplatz 8, D-96049 Bamberg
5 St. Michael's Monastery
Perched high atop one of Bamberg's seven church-crowned hills is the former Benedictine abbey of Michaelsberg. Tracing its roots back as far as 1015, highlights of this magnificent Baroque structure include the 12th-century St. Michael's Church with its exquisite ceiling paintings of medicinal herbs, as well as the newer abbey buildings erected between 1696-1702. Be sure to check out the panoramic views from the terrace behind the church, as well as the lovely old baroque terraced garden with its fountain and pavilions, accessible via the Benedictine Path. Please note: Due to renovations, only the abbey grounds are currently open to the public.
Address: Michaelsberg, 96049 Bamberg
6 Historical Museum of Bamberg
In the heart of the Old Town next to the cathedral, the Historical Museum of Bamberg consists of numerous objects from prehistoric to modern times, including stone sculptures, local crafts, and numerous 16th- to 19th-century clocks. The museum is also home to an impressive collection of old coins, as well as an array of astronomical tools and antique nativity scenes. Satellite museums include the Ludwig Collection in the Old Town Hall, and the Villa Dessauer, a former merchant's home used to house the town's extensive art gallery. Guided tours in English are available upon request (try to book in advance if possible).
Address: Alte Hofhaltung, Domplatz 7, 96049 Bamberg
7 Altenburg Castle
On Bamberg's tallest hill, Altenburg Castle is one of the town's most popular attractions. Dating back to the early 12th century when it was used as refuge for the townspeople, it later served as the palatial home of Bamberg's bishops. Destroyed in 1553, all that remains of the original medieval structure are parts of the surrounding wall and the 33-meter keep. An important relic form this time is the old iron basket hanging from the tower used to signal neighboring castles up to 20 kilometers away. Rebuilt in the Romantic style, highlights of a visit include its sumptuously furnished rooms and the spectacular views of the old town and the surrounding area. The site also boasts one of the town's most popular restaurants.
Address: Altenburg 1, 96049 Bamberg
8 Lisberg Castle
About 12 kilometers west of Bamberg is Lisberg Castle, one of the oldest castles in Bavaria. First mentioned in 820 AD, it later passed from the Babenberger family to the Catholic prince bishops of Bamberg and was spared the fate of other area castles - destruction by enemies - because the savvy locals simply changed sides whenever they were under threat. Highlights of a visit include the dungeons, the Gothic Womens' House, and the Renaissance-style Palace built in the early 17th century. The best-preserved rooms include the large kitchen and the Great Hall, redesigned in 1776. Entry is only available via guided tours of this privately-owned property.
Address: Im Burghof, 96170 Lisberg
9 Grüner Markt and St. Martin's Church
Bamberg's long, pedestrian-friendly Grüner Markt (Green Market) is a wonderful place to spend a few hours shopping and people watching. Full of cafés and boutique stores, it's also home to a popular market (Mon-Fri), as well as many important historic structures, including the St. Catherine Hospital and Seminary, and the Gabelman fountain with its statue of Neptune. The best known historic landmark, however, is the Church of St. Martin. Built between 1686 and 1693, this Baroque church dominates the square and contains many interesting features and artifacts (due to renovations, the interior of the church is not currently open).
Address: Jesuitenstraße - Grüner Markt, 96047 Bamberg
10 Natural History Museum
Bamberg's Natural History Museum, established in 1791, hosts an impressive collection of exhibits focusing on the region's geology, flora, and fauna. In addition to the lovely old building itself, other highlights include its excellent displays of indigenous mammals and fossils, many housed in centuries-old cabinets and display cases and adding to the feeling you're stepping back in time. Key exhibits include Treasure Chamber Earth with its crystals, minerals, and rocks; Dynamic Earth with numerous models illustrating the earth's structure; and many examples of plants and animals collected locally.
Address: Fleischstrasse 2, D-96047 Bamberg
Where to Stay in Bamberg for Sightseeing
We recommend these conveniently located hotels in Bamberg with easy access to the old town:
- Villa Geyerswoerth Hotel: luxury hotel, excellent location, river and garden views, Mediterranean restaurant, sauna.
- Best Western Hotel Bamberg: mid-range pricing, modern decor, free laundry facilities, complimentary buffet breakfast.
- Hotel Europa Bamberg: 3-star hotel, helpful front desk staff, spacious rooms, tasty free breakfast.
- Ibis Budget Bamberg: budget hotel, near the train station, friendly staff, sleek decor.