Sunday 28 May 2017

War and Peace

The Prince Bishops of Würzburg lived in the Marienberg fortress on one side of the River Main…

until they built the "Residenz" at the top of the slop on the other bank in the 18th century, in an attempt to emulate the style of Louis XIV.

We only got just a peep inside the front entrance, enough to see that it is, indeed, very grand.

In fact we didn't get quite as far as the place where they take your money, at which point we would also have learned that you're not allowed to take photographs. They probably wouldn't have minded me getting one of the formal gardens at the side before we left.

Würzburg has the mix of architectural styles that seems characteristic of the region.

But little of what you see is original. The abiding memory of our visit will be that of the air raid suffered on 16th March 1945, when in 20 minutes 90% of the city was destroyed by the RAF. There is a model in a special room of the Town Hall depicting what the city looked like at the end of that night.

In the years following the war, a massive reconstruction programme took place, of both buildings and reconciliation. The room contained plaques describing the situation of Würzburg under the National Socialist regime, the mass bombings that the Nazis themselves had engaged in, and links to the peace project based at Coventry Cathedral. There was a poignant reflection by one of the mayors of the city, and one of the most powerful comments was made by our excellent guide as responded, impromptu, to a question. "You reap what you sow", she said.


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