Monday, May 06, 2013-Day 17
Well, good people, the day dawned sunny and warm as we slid into the docking point in Wurzburg this morning.
“On 16 March 1945, about 90% of the city full of civilians (and military hospitals) was destroyed in 17 minutes by 225 British Lancaster bombers during a World War II air raid. All of the city’s churches, cathedrals, and other monuments were heavily damaged or destroyed. The city centre, which dated from medieval times, was totally destroyed in a firestorm in which 5,000 people perished. Over the next 20 years, the buildings of historical importance were painstakingly and accurately replicated. The citizens who rebuilt the city immediately after the end of the war were mostly women – Trümmerfrauen (“rubble women”) – because the men were either dead or taken prisoner of war. In comparison Würzburg was destroyed to a larger extent than was Dresden in a firebombing the previous month.“ (Wikipedia)
We hadn’t long to wait before we were told the buses were outside waiting to take us to the Prince/Bishop’s palace in the centre of the town. These prince/bishps were officers of the church but they also had enormous political clout. When we got off the bus and faced the palace, I was flabbergasted. It looked a little like the palace at Versailles, and indeed, we were told later that the bishop had ordered his architect to visit Versailles and build him something along the same lines!
Sadly, but understandably, we were not allowed to take cameras, bags, bottles into the upstairs rooms we were going to see, so they were all stored in a large wooden box which was then locked until our return.
I can’t begin to tell you of the grandeur of the palace (now owned and run by the state). However, the best part for me was the entrance to the ipstairs chambers via a grand, stone staircase. The ceiling above is covered by the largest ceiling fresco in the world. It was painted in 14 months by an Italian artist Giovanni Battista Tiepolo who painted the four continents (of that time) on the ceiling.
Something else the guide told us was that the palace had 360 rooms. 300 of them were destroyed by the bombing and all those have been faithfully restored by the state.
After the tour, which involved a lot of standing in one place to listen, Cynthia and Lynore took the bus back to the ship while Don and I wandered down through the town and on to the stone bridge over the river, copied in the style of the Charles Bridge in Prague (and also ordered by the prince/bishop). Don forced an ice-cream upon me and I relented and took it. However, the only evidence of us pounding the ice-creams down, is a pic I took of him! Heh! Heh!
We made our way back to the ship along the lovely river walk. Lunch was served and we headed off to Karlstadt where the Idun was due to dock again to pick up passengers who had undergone an extra tour of Rothenburg.
About 5.30 the Idun docked at Karlstadt, a beautiful town on the Main. We actually pulled up against a tiny jetty jutting out from the bank. The captain of the ship inched his way up to the landing and crew hopped ashore. Little boys ran up and down the shore and campers on the side waved and made us welcome. It was a strange sight to be within spitting distance of the land waiting for our friends to re-board.
Our passengers came aboard and dinner was served.
After the meal we were treated to a demonstration of glassblowing by Karl Ittig, the glassblower from Wertheim, the little down river where we are headed. Karl is one of five glass blowers making their living in this little town. His presentation was interesting, informative and well received by his audience.
It had been a full day. Goodbye for now and God bless.