The Romantic Road, which extends from the River Main in southern Germany to as far as the Alps, in fact has arisen out of a country’s need to clear itself. After World War II, a group of Germans came together in order to remove the bad reputation of their country from memory and tried to present another aspect of their country. They dreamed of a “Germany like in the fairy tales.” The Romantic Road in the Bavyera region, which, every year, is visited by 5 million people with accommodation and 2 million people without accommodation, really lives up to its fame today.
27 towns, large and small, from Würzburg in the north, through which the River Main flows, to Füssen in the south, which is called the gateway to the Alps, serve as a mirror of Medieval romanticism on this route of history and culture. You can travel along this Romantic Road, which is almost like an outdoor museum, in a rented car, on a shuttle bus that runs only on this route or by bicycle. The bicycle road is 420 km. Soon, a 500-km walking trail will be opened.
It is not only nature that is dazzling on the Romantic Road. Fabulous castles rising from within fogs into the sky, fascinating palaces embellished with immortal works by Riemenschneider, Neumann and Tiepolo, cute and idyllic medieaval towns, old town squares where life goes on around historical fountains, glorious churches of humble villages, unusual houses with triangular roofs, city walls on which you can tour the whole town and novel flavors at warm town restaurants; all give you a full portion of the true spirit of this road, where geography, architecture, art and culture are much richer than you are at first led to think.
You can go sightseeing on the Romantic Road on a bus that specifically runs on this route (www.romantic-road-coach.de).
You can receive help from the Romantic Road Central Office about accommodation, reservation and guidance. Dinkelsbuehl, www.romantischestrasse.de, www.romanticroad.de, www.romanticroad.com
The starting point of the Romantic Road, Würzburg is an ideal spot to get to know this route with its architecture and art as well as universities. The most spectacular building in the city is Residenz. The most striking aspect of this baroque structure, which architect Balthazar Neumann built in the 18th century as a demonstration of the wealth and prestige of the archbishops of Würzburg, is Tiepolo’s 600-m2 dazzling work titled ‘Four Continents’, which is the world’s largest ceiling frescoe. You must walk from Dom St. Kilian Cathedral on the square where the old town is located, past Alte Mainbrücke, the historical stone bridge on the River Main, to the 13th century Marienberg Castle, which is on UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage List. This place was the residence of the prince-archbishop until the year 1719.
An economical family business in Würzburg. For a wonderful breakfast and local menu, Zur Stadt Mainz (www.hotel-stadtmainz.de)
For a meal at a medieaval atmosphere in Würzburg, Würzburger Ratskeller (www.ratskeller-wuerzburg.de)
Augsburg, the city of Leopold Motzart, father of genius composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and famous playwright and poet Bertolt Brecht, is one of the important stops on the Romantic Road… The Renassiance and Baroque façades of the palaces and estates of the nobility lining Maximilianstrasse, which is the city’s most spectacular street, all reflect the grandeur of those times. One of the best known tourist spots in Augsburg is the ‘Goldener Saal’ (Golden Hall) at the Rathaus, or Municipal Palace, dating from the 17th century. The world’s oldest public housing projects, i.e. Fuggerei and the Artisans’ Neighborhood, dating back to the 16th century, which were built by Jakob Fuger, who uttered the maxim ‘the history of the world is the history of money”, and bore the the title of “rich”, will be one of the most interesting stops in your tour of the city.
Steigenberger Drei Mohren, a luxurious hotel in Augsburg where Mozart and Goethe once stayed (www.augsburg.steigenberger.de), is a brand that has long been associated with the city.
The last stop on the Romantic Road, Füssen is a small town squeezed among the peaks of the Alps. If your destination is Munich, Füssen, called the “Gateway to the Alps”, can be the first stop on your route even if it may mean to cover the Romantic Road the other way round. Situated on a trade route during the Middle Ages, Füssen makes up, together with Schwangau, 4 km to its east, ‘’Königswinkel’, or the Royal Corner, where two castles of Ludwig II are located, which is a place that attracts the highest number of tourists in Germany. In Füssen, you must see especially the interor garden of the 15th century Gothic castle Hohe Schloss, which served as the summer residence for archbishops of Augsburg.
To sample different varieties of salami including deer salami and seafood, you must visit Die Markt Halle (Füssen, Schrannenplatz, 08362 941965)