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The Main – and the Edelfrau

The Main is where vineyards have funny names such as “Edelfrau” (Noble Lady) or “Eschendorfer Lump” (Eschendorf Rascal), and where fish such as the “round goby” swim in the water. It connects the Rhine with the Danube, the North Sea with the Black Sea, and is the longest tributary of the Rhine. It winds its way through loops, has Bamberg on its left and eventually you’ll see the Staffelberg.

Along the Main

If you walk up the Main, you can feel a little of what the poet Joseph Victor von Scheffel must have felt when he wrote the Lied der Franken, “The Franconians’ song”. “From Bamberg to the Grabfeld Gau mountains and hills frame the broad pasture divided by a shining stream.” The landscape on the Main is a succession of vineyards, asparagus fields and orchards. And the cities on its banks are also worth a run ashore. Schweinfurt with the Leopoldina, the oldest scientific academy in Europe, Frankfurt (hello Goethe) or Bayreuth (hello Wagner). Travelling on the Main is very different from the Rhine and Mosel, but very special.



Frankfurt, the first things that come to mind are the sausages, the banks and finance. A feature even more famous than the sausages is, of course, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who was born in the house on Großer Hirschgraben. Here, he also wrote two of his important works, the original version of “Faust” and “Die Leiden des jungen Werther”. His birthplace can be visited today. It is one of a total of 39 museums on the city’s waterfront. An absolute must! And the old town with the Paulskirche, which became the seat of the first German National Assembly in 1848 and where the Peace Prize of the Frankfurt Book Trade is awarded every year, is also a must-see place. Frankfurt, anything else spring to mind? Right. The “Palm Garden” with the “Palm House” from 1869, as well as the “Butterfly House”. A green moment, whether summer or winter.



Have you ever heard of the “Buddescheißer”? If you come to Wertheim, you definitely will. It is a mixture of marc and peach liqueur and a speciality from the wine town of Wertheim, one of the most beautiful towns in the north of Baden-Württemberg. Wertheim Castle towers high above the old town, majestically displaying its towers and battlements. It was built from 1180 onwards. Anyone standing up here and enjoying the magnificent view of the charming landscape of the Main and Tauber rivers (by the way, the two rivers flow together in Wertheim) should not be startled if he or she suddenly hears a loud, bleeting sound. Between spring and autumn, the castle’s guests include numerous goats that keep the steep green meadows on the huge castle grounds short. After this brief animal interlude, how about a dig in the old town? You have to have seen it!



Bavaria and Baroque. In Würzburg, it’s like nowhere else. One of the main works is the city’s Residenz, one of the most important castles in Europe, designed by Balthasar Neumann, built between 1720 and 1740 and protected by UNESCO. In the stairwell, every visitor is left feeling amazed: What a fresco! The largest continuous fresco in the world. Any questions? Then it’s on to the city, a baroque dream come true. And finally, we cross the oldest bridge over the Main (don’t worry, it has been lavishly restored time and again) to Marienburg Fortress, which was the residence of the Würzburg prince-bishops for over 400 years. From up here you look down on the old university with its domes and towers. What a view! Perhaps a visit to the art ship ARTE NOAH? It is one of the few floating galleries in Germany.



It lies between the hills of Spessart and Odenwald. It bears the title “Bavarian Place of Pleasure” with maximum pride. And yes, it has one very clever feature – a “Schnatterloch”. In all probability, this village is one of the most beautiful in Bavaria. Anyone standing in Miltenberg’s market square is in no doubt about this. Medieval half-timbering frames the square, at the end of which a footpath leads through the tower of the city wall to the Mildenburg. There is also a hole in the tower through which the water can drain off during heavy rain – the “Schnatterloch”. Incidentally, the museum in Mildenburg shows icons from Greece, Russia and Romania. A real box of gems.



Bamberg is the dream of a city that has become northern Bavaria. With charm from the Middle Ages and with listed buildings, yes, with baroque splendour architecture, to be more precise. In addition to numerous museums and historical sights, beer connoisseurs and aficionados will get their money’s worth in Bamberg in much the same way as wine lovers do with a top vintner. Beer is something like the lifeblood in the city. There are numerous breweries and plenty of pubs. But you’d better visit them after a tour of the city. This is because here you should not miss the following first: the Alte Hofhaltung (once the bishops’ residence), the cathedral (dating from 1002) and the Neue Residenz (what splendid halls!) with the rose garden designed by Balthasar Neumann (what a view over the old town). And as a little extra, after all you are on a river cruise: in Bamberg there is lock 100. It is the last lock of the Ludwig Main Danube Canal built under King Ludwig I. It is still operated by hand. The lock-keeper’s cottage is simply magical.



Fine wooden toys, jumping frogs and tin music boxes, colourful tableware and stationery – all handmade in local manufactories. The Handwerkerhof in Nuremberg is perfect for small and original souvenirs from the trip. Because your loved ones back home will definitely ask of such a special river cruise: Did you bring me something? Those who have been to Nuremberg also bring back stories. For example, from a visit to the Albrecht Dürer House, from a stroll through the Old Town with the Kaiserburg and the churches and the medieval fortress walls, from the Nazi Party Rally Grounds, where the National Socialists held their party congresses and where the Nuremberg Trials were later held. From the “Marriage Carousel”, a fountain with larger-than-life bronze figures thematising the “bittersweet way of conjugal life”. And from the hangman’s house. There is a lot to tell.

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