Würzburg is a city in the region of Franconia which lies in the northern tip of Bavaria, Germany. Located on the Main River, it is the capital of the Regierungsbezirk Unterfranken. The regional dialect is Franconian.
Würzburg is approximately 80 minutes from Frankfurt by train, and almost an hour from Nuremberg. Distances to the nearest cities by motorway: Frankfurt 115 km, Nuremberg 115 km, Stuttgart 150 km, Kassel 215 km.
The city of Würzburg is not included in the district of Würzburg, but is its administrative seat. Its population is 131,320 as of December 31, 2006.
By 1000 BC a Celtic fortification stood on the site of the Fortress Marienberg. It was Christianized in 686 by Irish missionaries Kilian, Colman and Totnan. The city is first mentioned as Vurteburch in 704. The first diocese was founded by St. Bonifatius in 742. He appointed the first bishop of Würzburg, St. Burkhard. The bishops eventually created a duchy with its center in the city, which extended in the 12th century to Eastern Franconia. The city was the seat of several Imperial diets, including the one of 1180, in which Henry the Lion was banned from the Empire and his duchy was handed over to Otto of Wittelsbach.
The first church at the site of the cathedral was built as early as 788, and consecrated that same year by Charlemagne; the current building was constructed from 1040 to 1225 in Romanesque style. The University of Würzburg was founded in 1402 and re-founded in 1582.
The citizens of the city revolted several times against the bishop-prince, until definitively defeated in 1400. Later, Würzburg was a center of the German Peasants' War; the castle was besieged unsuccessfully. Notable prince-bishops include Julius Echter von Mespelbrunn (1573-1617) and members of the Schönborn family, who commissioned a great number of the monuments of today's city. In 1631, Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus invaded the town and destroyed the castle.
In 1720, the foundations of the Würzburg Residence were laid. The city passed to the Electorate of Bavaria in 1803, but two years later, in the course of the Napoleonic Wars, it became the seat of the Electorate of Würzburg, the later Grand Duchy of Würzburg. In 1814, the town became part of the Kingdom of Bavaria and a new bishopric was created seven years later, as the former one had been secularized in 1803.
Massacres of Jews took place in 1147 and 1298 and expulsions throughout the Middle Ages. In the period of Nazi rule, almost the whole Jewish and Gypsy population of the city was wiped out.
During World War II, on March 16, 1945, about 90% of the city was destroyed by some 225 Lancaster bombers in 17 minutes by a British air raid. Most of the city's churches, cathedrals, and other monuments did not survive, while the city center, dating from medieval times, was totally destroyed in a firestorm in which some 5,000 people perished. During the next 20 years, the buildings of historical importance were painstakingly and accurately replicated. The citizens who rebuilt the city immediately after the end of the war were mostly women (Trümmerfrauen = Rubblewomen). Men were either dead or POW. Relatively, Würzburg was destroyed more completely than was Dresden in a firebombing the previous month.
Since the end of the war, Würzburg has been host to the US Army's 3rd Infantry Division, 1st Infantry Division, US Army Hospital and various other US military units who have maintained a presence in Germany. The local Würzburg economy benefited greatly from the US military presence. However, these units are due to withdraw from Würzburg by 2008 which brings to an end over 60 years of US military stationed in Würzburg.
The city's main station is at the southern end of the Hanover-Würzburg high-speed rail line and offers frequent InterCityExpress and InterCity connections to cities such as Frankfurt, Nuremberg, Munich, Kassel, Hanover or Hamburg. It also is an important hub in the regional rail network.
Würzburg has a tram network of 5 lines with a length of 19.7 km. There are plans for extension in the next years.
27 bus lines are connecting several parts of the city. 25 bus lines connect the Würzburg district with the city.
Many of the city's "100 churches" survived intact with styles ranging from romanesque (Cathedral Saint Kilian), gothic (Marienkapelle), renaissance (Neubaukirche), baroque (Stift Haug Kirche) to modern (St Andreas).
Würzburg hosts the Mainfranken Museum, with artifacts from prehistory until modern times, a Museum of the cathedral, galleries for ancient and modern art, and the "Kulturspeicher" from 2002. Notable festivals include the Afrika Festival in May, the Mozartfest, in June/July and the Kiliani Volksfest in mid July.