For two days, Jo and Martina showed me around Würzburg. They played tour guides as we took in the sights, the huge castle on the hill from medieval times, the Bishop’s Residenz with dozens of rooms but just one toilet, a cutting edge innovation of that time, various churches, etc. We walked around the charming city center, by the biergartens along the Main river, across the old bridge reminiscent of the Charles bridge in Prague with the statues of the three Irish monks who founded this city. Really? That was surprising. What were three Irish monks doing in these parts back in the eighth century? I also learned that one of them was killed (beheaded, I think) for coveting a woman that was already spoken for.
But the most interesting thing I learned was that 90% of the city was destroyed in a massive bombing raid by the British in 1945, just weeks before the war ended. 5000 people died, most of them burned alive by the incendiary bombs. Apparently, there was no military target, the only purpose of the bombing raid was to demoralize the enemy. There is a very realistic model in the Rathaus, of the burned out city. It is astonishing. Hardly a single building is intact. It is just a skeleton of a city, filled with ash and rubble. It is remarkable that the present day city of Würzburg exists at all. Everything has been reconstructed and restored. Jo told me the story of his father. He was conscripted at the age of 17 years before the end of the war and sent to Italy. After the Axis defeat in Italy, he walked back to Germany, last few weeks without shoes, only to be captured by the Americans two days before he reached Würzburg. Later, he escaped by jumping out of a truck. His friend who also tried to escape was shot and killed.
Everywhere we went, the Residenz, the castle, the churches, the scars of the war are a big part of the story. “All of this was destroyed, it was restored” is the common refrain.
We stopped in the market square for a snack of bratwurst in a roll with mustard, the brat, the roll and the mustard, all a bit different, more German than what you would get in the states.
On the second day, Jo decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and we drove in his vintage Fiat convertible. We walked the many paths in the wine estate of Winegut Stein, with amazing views of the river and the town.
We stopped at a very fancy hotel/resort on the hill (Michael Jackson and Tina Turner have slept there!) and had an exquisite soup called Frankischemostsuppen Von Sylvaner and some wonderful Müller Thurgau.
The next morning, we woke up early as I had to catch an early train to Munich. After a leisurely breakfast, we walked down to the platform of the deserted station, bought a ticket from the machine and waited for the 7 47 train to Würzburg, which of course arrived exactly at 7 46!
It was time to say goodbye to my dear friends, “the bahnhofmeister and his wife” and this magical little station called Seligenstadt.