Sunday, October 29, 2017

Würzburg . . . For Comparison Purposes!

A friend of mine at church told me that they like Würzburg better that Bamberg.  Those kinds of statements always need exploring and although we got a late start last Saturday, we decided to test it out!  In the end, we only had a few hours so I can't really say if we liked it better.  The palace?  Amazing!  The churches?  Different and interesting from a lot that we've seen.  And we missed some big things like the Marienburg Fortress but we really enjoyed our afternoon and the city itself.

 We started with the main attraction: the Residence, an amazing palace right in the heart of the city.
Megan totally smiled for pictures when Stanley was involved!

Ok I'm not sure if this is the front or the back but see those larger doors in the very middle?  Those used to just be archways.  It was an open court that you drove your carriage right into and then turned around so that you exited the carriage right onto a grand staircase with amazing paintings at the top.  The prince-Bishop who lived in the palace (I don't yet understand the monarchy titles and positions quite yet but that's what he was called) would meet you there.  The lower the step that he stood on, the greater your importance.  Apparently Napleon's carriage was pulled by 8 horses and there wasn't enough room so he had to walk in.  And he was not impressed by the palace.  I think he was just pretending.

The statues around the outside fountain were incredible and several inside were also amazing.  One of my favorites is when they carve statues of women with veils over their faces.  I am always in awe of stone that looks like there's a sheer fabric covering the face.

These four statues were all different arts I think.  The one above was music, this one is sculpture and I think the one below is writing.  I can't remember the fourth.  Apparently I didn't take his picture!

We got really lucky.  When we bought the tickets it turned out that there was an English tour in 5 minutes.  And they were completely sold out of their English guidebooks.  Most of the palace you wander and tour on your own but the guided tour went through some additional amazing rooms and was actually really good although the guy was kind've rushing through -- though that's not a bad thing with kids!  The kids don't love tours BUT we seem to find enough to occupy them that they get through without too much complaining.  In this case there were quite a few 3D elements to the design (ceiling paintings where limbs actually stick out are some of our favorites) and the guide showed us where the king would go poo (yes, he actually used that word) in front of everyone on his special "chair" and the kids thought that was fascinating and disgusting.  Yes to both.

No pictures allowed inside so I had to buy some postcards of amazing rooms and then take pictures of those!
This is that amazing staircase and at the bottom is where you come in on the carriage.  I literally felt like a princess walking up those stairs - I don't think I've felt that way in any other palace or castle yet!  The paintings at the top were to represent 4 of the 5 continents: Europe, Asia, Africa, America.  Australia is not pictured.  They are in order of civilized society and America is the least.  The lady representing America rides an alligator and the people near her are eating each other. No joke.  It's not portrayed gruesomely and I guess in the 1700s that's what people knew about it!

This was an assembly hall that Megan loved (we all loved it really), but she was actually twirling!  I'm telling you, this place was something special if it makes Megan want to twirl!  It also had a room with the most amazing wood floor that we've seen and gorgeous rooms where the ornamentation was in silver instead of gold and the colors were just amazing.  Plus tapestries, furniture, etc.  Have I mentioned that I loved this palace???  I will definitely go back with visitors!

After the tour we went out into the gardens and wandered and let the kids run off some of that energy.

One of my favorites.  It totally looks like they're contemplating the beauty of the place and in reality they're looking at a squirrel.


Abby took my phone for a bit and took a pretty good picture of me!!  And plenty of flowers and mushrooms.  Mushrooms and snails are her favorite things ever right now.

After the palace we wandered into the city.  Würzburg was bombed really heavily during WWII and has had a lot of reconstruction.  There's also a lot of modern buildings and plenty of shopping.  But the interesting thing was the churches.  Most of the churches we've seen have been rebuilt to what they were before -- usually heavily Baroque or Romantic styling.  Some will incorporate modern elements as well.  But these churches were all old on the outside and totally modern on the inside.  It was probably the first time we've really seen that.

We didn't go in all the churches (there were a lot!) but the Dom was the main one and we expected a classic cathedral.  Instead, this is it.  I don't know the reason for the Menorah (because I always thought it was a purely Jewish thing) but the organ was amazing with the lights behind and several pipes are angled out and away.
The side doors were this.  Megan was really interested in them.

The altar of course fit our expectations but this is pretty low-key, especially where the stucco work isn't gilded at all.  I did like the lightness that it added though to be so much white.

And then through the main hall it felt so modern.  No arched gothic ceilings, just flat and plain windows.  The paintings or mosaics on the ceiling (too far away to tell for sure) were also very modern and angular.  No fat cherubs or angels or priests.  Anyway it was neat to see something different even though I also love the usual things!

About this time it started to rain and so after the churches we went into a restaurant and had a nice Italian dinner.  We eat a lot of Italian when we're out and about ironically.  Chopper doesn't love German food and the kids are fairly limited in what they'll eat.  Abby says she likes schnitzel but she doesn't eat much of it.  William will always go for a hot dog and fries (bratwurst actually) but Megan doesn't like a lot of German food either.  Italian usually means the kids can have pizza and Megan can have plain noodles or salad.  And usually you can't go wrong with Italian!  Anyway then we wandered around the shops and I found the first thing I really, truly miss about the states: bookstores!!!!  Because things were closing and I needed some postcards, we stopped at a huge bookstore that was packed and awesome.  We all wanted to browse so so much but what's the point?  It's not fun to browse books when you don't know what they're about!  I miss bookstores.  I miss digging through used books particularly.  There was a used book sale in Amberg a few weeks ago.  All books just 1 Euro!  I bought a few because they were old hardbacks that were gorgeous but there were a ton of books with authors that I love that I would have grabbed up if they hadn't been in German!  Sigh. Enough complaining about lack of books because I don't really lack books.  Amazon just isn't fun shopping.

Anyway we walked over the bridge for a great view of the Marienburg Fortress which is where the prince-bishops lived before they built the palace but it was already closed so we didn't even walk up there.

A few stumbling blocks on our way back to the car.  A lot of cities do this - they place these blocks at the place where someone lived who was taken away in World War II.  They have the information on them of when and where they died as well.  You don't really see them unless you're looking down or specifically for them which I think also says something.  How often with tragedy and atrocity do we not see it even though it happens so much?  Food for thought.