Fortress Marienberg was home to the *Prince Bishops from the 13th to the 18th Century, when they moved into the imposing Baroque Wurzburg Residence. It was severely damaged by the bombing raid which destroyed much of the Wurzburg - some 60 miles southeast of Frankfurt - in 1945. Restoration, however, went on for decades - all the way through 1987.
*Prince Bishops were clerics elected by Catholic church chapters who also functioned as secular rulers. Their money, tastes and thirst for the high life lured some of Europe's finest artists, architects and musicians to the region of Franconia in the 18th Cenutry. Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, one of the leading Italian artists of the 18th Century, worked at the Wurzburg Residence from 1750-1753; his epic ceiling fresco crowning the grand staircase was magnificent.
Wurzburg, best known for its white wines, is the center of the Bavarian wine producing region of Franconia.
After our tour of the elaborate Wurzburg Residence, Doug and I enjoyed a wine tasting in the former Prince Bishop's Court Cellar.
Rothenburg's fortress walls still stand to protect the core of Gothic churches and gabled houses on the Market Square.
If you're serious about Christmas, you had to visit the original Kate Wohlfahrt Christmas shop and museum that displays vintage toys from as early as the 17th Century.
After our morning tour of the historic district, we had some free time to explore on our own. Doug decided to check out the Medieval Crime Museum, which our tour guide said featured the best collection in Europe of antique objects and documents pertaining to crime and punishment.
(blog entries by Heidi Hutson)