Recent archaeological findings revealed that the first settlements date back as far as 1000 BC. Bamberg was first mentioned in 902 in a chronicle written by Regino von Prüm. In 973, Emperor Otto II. gave Bamberg to the Bavarian duke, Heinrich der Zänker. His son, who was later to become Heinrich II. (1002 - 1024), built Bamberg's first cathedral on the site of a former fortress. This cathedral became the centre of the bishopric formed in 1007. For a short period, Henrich II. proclaimed Bamberg the capital of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.

Bamberg - Once the capital of Germany

Bamberg's present-day cathedral was consecrated in 1237. With the founding of the Benedictine monastery St. Michael (1015) and the collegiate churches St. Stephan (1020), St. Gangolf (1058) and St. Jakob (1071), he city became a popular centre within the Empire. Bamberg was generously endowed with estates which stretched as far as Carinthia and Northern Italy as well as with valuable manuscripts and liturgical robes. It also hosted the "summit meeting" between Emperor Heinrich II. and Pope Benedikt VIII. ,and by 1020, Bamberg had become equal in rank to the older bishoprics.

The cathedral burial of the city's founder Heinrich II. and his consort Kunigunde and the appointment to Pope of the Bamberg bishop, Suidger (Clemens II.) enhanced the town's standing. For centuries, the city's bishops continued to play an important role within the Empire as chancellors or vice chancellors.
Bamberg's political and clerical rise was soon followed by the rapid growth of trade and commerce. As early as 1062 Bamberg's businessmen could be seen at major markets and in 1163 were granted significant trading privileges. After Mainz, Bamberg was the second city to introduce book printing (1460).

The arrival of the Schönborn bishops (1693-1746) marked the dawn of a new architectural era for Bamberg. The desire for prestige which was hardly reflected in the characteristic timber-beam buildings, paved the way for baroque styles to change the face of the town. Prince bishop Franz Ludwig von Erthal (1779 - 1795), who implemented a series of progressive social provisions, added other aspects to the town. He not only established an innovative system of health and fire insurance but also founded one of Germany's first general hospitals (1789).

The demise of the independent ecclesiastic principality in 1802/03 and Bamberg's surrender to the electorate (Kingdom of Bavaria from 1806) marked the loss of its status as a royal seat. It was, however, made an archbishopric in 1817. For many years the city served as a residence for members of the Bavarian Royal Family (the New Residence). Numerous state authorities and military institutions settled here and shaped Bamberg's changing character. The intermittent presence of famous men such as E.T.A. Hoffmann (1808-1813), G.F.W. Hegel (1807) and G.S. Ohm (1812-1817) helped compensate for Bamberg's dwindling significance.

In 1919 Bamberg was the seat of the Bavarian Government and State Parliament which passed Bavaria's first democratic constitution known as the "Bamberg Constitution". Although the city suffered little damage during the Second World War, its location near the inner German border and the loss of its traditional markets to the East demanded a realignment of its commercial focus. The town's inclusion in the European transport network (Rhine/Main/Danube Canal, the motorway links, Inter City train connection), the promotion of "clean" industries and the emphasis on its function as an educational (university, many secondary schools and technical colleges) and cultural city (e.g. the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, E.T.A. Hoffmann Theatre, museums, research institutes) secured it an important role. This status was confirmed in 1993 when Bamberg was awarded the title of "Oberzentrum" or Regional Centre. This was the logical conclusion for a town which serves a large catchment area in the west of Upper Franconia.

World Cultural Heritage since 1993
With over 2,000 listed buildings in an area of 250ha, the well preserved city centre is one of Europe's largest single ensembles. Bamberg's concept to preserve and restore the city and its cooperation with other towns in matters of preservation (Regensburg, Lübeck, Stralsund, Görlitz, Meißen) have earned it international recognition. This reached its pinnacle in 1993 when it was awarded the title of "World Cultural and Natural Heritage of Mankind" by UNESCO.

At the foot of Cathedral Hill, the Old Town Hall rises up in the middle of the Regnitz and can only be reached by two stone bridges. Part of the Old Town Hall rests on the sandstone pier of a 12th century bridge. First mentioned in 1386, it was rebuilt from 1461-67 and comprises a Middle Age half-timbered construction on one side and a lavishly painted baroque section on the other. From the bridges of the Old Town Hall the visitor has a wonderful view of Little Venice, the picturesque fishing houses which line up along the River Regnitz.

Letztes Update: 07.10.2011


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