Bamberg’s different layers

There was once a plan to turn this small German town into a ‘second Rome’. When you see it for yourself, it’s clear how it grew in grandeur.

Written by Michael Turtle

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle. A journalist for more than 20 years, he's been travelling the world since 2011.

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle and has been travelling full time for a decade.


Things to do in Bamberg in Germany

The historic town of Bamberg is sometimes called ‘the Rome of Germany’. While its position of power means there are some incredible buildings, it’s the cobblestoned streets and beautiful houses along the river that give Bamberg its real charm today.

From the top of the town, I look out across Bamberg. It’s another one of those beautiful German settlements that has such a rich history but is often overlooked by the average tourist in favour of the larger and more famous cities.

Town of Bamberg, Germany, World Heritage Site

The layout of Bamberg is important for not just architectural reasons, but for what it shows about the society here over the past millennium.

With this vantage point, it’s easy to see how the older part of this Bavarian town is split into three main areas. A river, which forks (before merging again) creates a natural boundary between each of them.

Town of Bamberg, Germany, World Heritage Site
Town of Bamberg, Germany, World Heritage Site

Noble Bamberg

I’m standing currently at the highest part which is best described as the ‘noble’ section. This is where the churches, the castle and the associated buildings were constructed as early as the 10th century. The large impressive cathedral dominates the layout – inside are the tombs of at least one pope and one emperor.

Town of Bamberg, Germany, World Heritage Site

At one point, when the Duke of Bavaria, Henry II, became King of Germany in 1007, he wanted to turn the town into a grand seat of government. His goal was to have a ‘second Rome’. (It’s not the first place I’ve been to with this goal – if everyone had achieved their aims, there would be at least a dozen ‘second Romes’ around Europe.)

Bamberg probably didn’t quite achieve the goal of Henry II but it was a period of huge prosperity for the town and the quality and quantity of the old impressive buildings around me prove that.

Town of Bamberg, Germany, World Heritage Site
Town of Bamberg, Germany, World Heritage Site

Urban Bamberg

Down the hill and across the river is the urban section of Bamberg. It’s an island in the middle of the river and was founded in the 12th century as a market, residences and businesses. In some ways, it was the link between the nobility and the ordinary people, where commerce could take place within easy sight of the rulers.

Town of Bamberg, Germany, World Heritage Site

Residential Bamberg

On the other side of the island, the town spreads out into a much larger area. This is an interesting part of Bamberg because you can still see today the market gardens that were set up here from the 12th century onwards.

From the streets, it looks like there are just houses – but behind the houses, on many of the blocks, are large hidden gardens. This is where crops were (and still are) grown by the residents who overlook them.

Town of Bamberg, Germany, World Heritage Site

Visiting Bamberg

It is easy to explore Bamberg by foot and, if you start at the train station and head towards the cathedral, you will pass through each of the different sections. The main sights are up on the hill and on the island at its foot.

Make sure you don’t miss the Bamberg Cathedral, the Old Town Hall, the Neue Residenz and its gardens, and Michaelsberg Abbey.

I have put all the main sights on this map to help you plan your visit to Bamberg:

You’ll notice there is a suggested walking route here for you as well. There’s no need to follow it strictly but it gives you an idea of how long it make take you to see everything if you were to start at the Bamberg train station.

Town of Bamberg, Germany, World Heritage Site

Bamberg is also a wonderful town to wander around and the architecture in the older parts is beautiful. Take a random turn at an intersection, follow the cobblestone streets, and admire the traditional Franconian design.

From the river, you’ll be able to see ‘Little Venice’, which is a collection of fishermen’s houses from the 19th century.

Town of Bamberg, Germany, World Heritage Site

There are some really affordable tours in Bamberg and you’ll learn a lot from the local guides. There are a few different ones that I would recommend here:


Beer in Bamberg

Another particularly famous aspect of Bamberg is the beer – even more so than usual in Germany, that is!

Bamberg has 11 breweries in the town and another 60 in the region around it. In total, they make more than 400 types of beer! (I dare you to try them all some time!!)

But what Bamberg is particularly known for is a rather unique style of brewing that leaves some of the beers with a smoky or bacon flavour.

The small pubs in the area at the base of the cathedral hill will happily serve you a glass but I would suggest going directly to one of the breweries. The two best ones to visit are Schlenkerla or Spezial and I have marked both of them on the map.

It’s a good way to finish up a visit to this wonderful little town.


Bamberg is quite small and you’ll able to find lovely accommodation in the historic area, not far from the train station.


If you’re looking for a backpacker hostel, there’s a great one called Sleepy Owl.


A nice budget hotel is Hotel Alt Bamberg, which is in a quaint historic building.


For an unbeatable location, I would suggest the stylish Hotel Nepomuk on the water.


And you’ll find some classic luxury at the wonderful Welcome Hotel Residenzschloss Bamberg.

Time Travel Turtle was supported by DB Bahn, the German National Tourist Board and Youth Hostels in Germany but the opinions, over-written descriptions and bad jokes are his own.


This site is on the UNESCO World Heritage List!
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10 thoughts on “Bamberg’s different layers”

  1. I’ve been there! But it was so many years ago I hardly remember. It was while visiting my sister sometime around 1998 and we did a whirlwind trip all over the place. We saw so many things, it’s hard to recall any of it. Great photos.

    • That’s the problem with rushing through these places (and I have to admit that I rushed through because I was doing a challenge to see as much as possible). It’s a beautiful town but it would be a great place to take it east and relax, I think. Otherwise it just becomes a brief memory from a larger journey through the area.

  2. I stayed with a friend in tbe Bamberg area. I have no idea where the housing block is but I have 2 photos which might identify where it is. Can I send them to you to try to identify where it is? I know Bamberg us not a huge town so it should be easy to identify?


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