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Selected departures up to September 2016 & May to September 2017
Many people think they know Germany, but are delightfully surprised by its iconic historic cities, expansive rolling countryside, fairy-tale castles, perfectly preserved medieval villages and the warmth of its people.
Many people think they know Germany, but are delightfully surprised by its iconic historic cities, expansive rolling countryside, fairy-tale castles, perfectly preserved medieval villages and the warmth of its people. You’ll find all this and more as we explore one of its most fascinating regions Heidelberg and Franconia. Bordered by two of Europe’s most stunningly beautiful rivers - the Main and Neckar– it’s also full of astonishing cultural gems.
The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a twin room. Single rooms are subject to availability at a supplement of £129 per person. The price includes five nights’ four-star accommodation with breakfast and dinner, return flights, airport departure taxes and transfers, visits as described, entrance and tour of Würzburg ‘Residenz', all touring and the services of a Riviera tour manager.
Please note in Germany beds are often one bed base with two mattresses and individual bed linen.
You fly to Frankfurt then drive to Würzburg, to your hotel for the next three nights, the excellent four-star Maritim where we also have dinner. Straddling the River Main and surrounded by vine-clad hills and wooded slopes, the city’s origins stretch back to Celtic times.
During the 18th century, Würzburg was a seat of the Prince Bishops who created the truly magnificent Residenz, one of Europe’s finest Baroque palaces, constructed to outshine Vienna and Versailles– an aim which in artistic terms they certainly achieved!
There is a huge amount to admire here and our tour brings this splendid buildings history and architecture to life. You start with the incredible staircase, said to be the world’s most beautiful – with its glorious frescoes plus the marvellously intricate decoration of the Imperial Hall. Continuing you can admire one room completely covered in gold leaf, and another having 600 mirrors. Fine-art adorns the beautifully wood-panelled walls and there are extensive views over the elegant gardens.
One of the most unusual rooms has the most incredible acoustics you will probably ever experience. Walk across the room and your footsteps echo with increasing resonance, then on reaching the centre, the noise reverberates seemingly forever in a series of surreal crescendos! The calculations involved to create this effect 300 years ago are quite startling.
We then travel back in time, following the “Romantic Road” itself. The route’s name derives from its poetic journey through history, evoking the period when its medieval towns held ultimate sway and Teutonic chivalry reigned supreme. You can sense the history in unbelievably picturesque medieval villages whilst Baroque churches and hilltop castles unveil before you as we wind along the stunningly beautiful Tauber Valley. We soon arrive in the undoubted jewel, spectacular Rothenburg where you meet the 16th century head on! It simply could not be more idyllic, crowning a hill overlooking the meandering river below, nestling securely behind perfectly preserved medieval walls.
At the peak of its power, this Protestant town suffered greatly during the Thirty Years’ War subsequently remaining too impoverished to expand beyond its walls in the ensuing centuries thus ensuring its almost perfect survival creating today’s present gem. Narrow, cobbled streets lined with tall gabled, half-timbered houses with staircase turrets and oriel windows lead to St Jakob’s Church and a fine medieval Town Hall at its heart. You really have a genuine glimpse of the past.
This morning enjoy an easy drive though the scenic Steigerwald Natural Park to remarkable Bamberg, quite simply one of Europe’s most beautiful small cities, staggeringly so, but easily on a par with Prague! The masterpiece you see today began its artistic journey during the 11th century when the Emperor Heinrich II planned a capital as grand as Rome. Although it never became so large Bamberg boasts spaciousness with a wealth of fine buildings belying its size. Pride of place goes to its outstanding gothic cathedral but this is but one example of the city’s shining beauty and range of architecture, from Romanesque to Baroque it is like an incarnation of an architectural text book. Not only is it historic, it is stunningly beautiful too, located on the main Danube Canal with a fascinating tangle of lanes lined with merchants’ houses culminating in its picturesque main square and traditional daily market. You must visit the town hall, covered with the huge colourful frescoes so typical of central Europe, almost hovering on wooden piles whilst below the River Main flows swiftly on. This superb baroque townscape whose reflections dance on the river, lends an extra special ambience to the whole gorgeous scene. We return to Würzburg in good time for dinner.
We leave Würzburg heading downstream along the picturesque River Main valley, the medieval theme continues as we call at another stunning historic town, Wertheim. Nestling beautifully at the confluence of the Main and Tauber, it’s a patchwork of twisting alleys and superb panoramic viewpoints with a ruined castle looming high above. Following the valley we soon arrive in Miltenberg acknowledged as one of Germany’s most beautiful villages, medieval and well preserved. Continuing we join the Niebelungstrasse Route running through the heart of the Odenwald Forest, the inspiration for the medieval myths and legends of the great Wagnerian epics with which it is so indelibly linked. We stay two nights with dinner at the comfortable four-star Maritim in Mannheim.
This morning we visit nearby Heidelberg. A wonderful city, which positively flaunts its beauty. Its setting is second to none, nestling by the picturesque river Neckar, in a valley dominated by its imposing castle, high on a wooded hillside - a real-life fulfilment of the perfect medieval German landscape! The town itself is a maze of historic, baroque and gabled buildings lining the river with its romantic old-town behind. Adding to this, its 14th century university, one of Europe’s most prestigious lends Heidelberg that genteel atmosphere rather similar to that of Oxford or Cambridge. During the 19th century it was the centre of Germany’s Romantic Movement, on the route of ‘The Grand Tour’ and visited, amongst many others, by the artist Turner who captured its splendours for eternity. During our guided walk we see the principal sights but Heidelberg’s greatest monument, is simply the city itself. During the afternoon, you are free to explore as you wish, perhaps taking a stroll through the picturesque squares and lanes to enjoy a cooling “Weisswein” or a tasty beer in one of the many delightful street cafes or heading up the hill for a closer look at the pink sandstone magnificence of the castle, before returning to our hotel for our final dinner.
Today bid farewell to this historic and traditional corner of Germany returning to Frankfurt at the appropriate time for your return flight.
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