How the Würzburg Residence was destroyed

This enormous palatial building was one of the most magnificent in Germany until it was destroyed in the Second World War. Now it’s been restored to glory.

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.


Würzburg Residence, Würzburg, Germany

Another day in Germany and another grand building left in ruins by the meaningless destruction of war. This time it’s the Würzburg Residence in the city of Würzburg in the centre of the country.

The main damage was inflicted during an air raid on March 16, 1945. It wasn’t the bombs themselves that had the worst effect (although they certainly weren’t kind to the building). It was the fire that they caused which ravaged through almost corner of the enormous palace.

It burnt the furniture and the wall panels – those that hadn’t been taken away for protection. When the flames finally finished feeding, just a shell was left.

Visiting Wurzburg Residence, Germany

It just wasn’t possible for the Germans to leave the Würzburg Residence in ruins, though. It was too important and they were too proud of it.

The building had been one of the most important palaces in Central Europe before the Second World War.

Visiting Wurzburg Residence, Germany

From right after the conflict ended and for another forty years, reconstruction took place. It cost more than 20 million euros but was finally finished in 1987.

Visiting Wurzburg Residence, Germany

On the approach to the building, I get a sense of the size. It is more than 160 metres wide with two main floors.

There are so many windows looking out at me. If I could peer through them, I would see some of the 400 rooms inside.

Visiting Wurzburg Residence, Germany

These rooms and the detail they contain are the real treasures of the Würzburg Residence.

Unfortunately photography inside is not allowed and so, despite my best charm offensive, I have nothing to show you from my tour of the interior.

You’ll have to trust me when I tell you that the beauty comes in both large and small.

Visiting Wurzburg Residence, Germany

In terms of the large, there’s the enormous central staircase which is 23 metres high with a vibrant fresco above it, the White Hall filled with stucco decorations, and the Imperial Hall with the large dome and marble.

Visiting Wurzburg Residence, Germany

When it comes to the small, you find these details in the bedrooms and the reception rooms leading to them. It’s the paintings, the statues, the mirrors, and all the other items on display.

These rooms are magnificent as a whole but within them are countless treasures (although I assume someone has counted them, so I don’t try to grab anything as I go by).

Visiting Wurzburg Residence, Germany

Visiting Würzburg Residence

You can see some parts of the residence on your own but there are also areas that are accessible only with a guided tour.

It is well worth joining one because it will take you to some of these smaller rooms with the artwork and detailed decorations. Having a guide point out the significant parts of even the smaller rooms is also very valuable.

Visiting Wurzburg Residence, Germany

Part of the significance of Würzburg Residence is the gardens around them. You’ll notice that most of my photos are from there because photography is allowed.

Visiting Wurzburg Residence, Germany

Make sure you leave time to walk through the beautifully landscaped sections directly behind the main building and walk up to the top of the gardens. There’s a wonderful symmetry that’s easier to appreciate from the higher ground and the incline is part of the aesthetics.

And, if you would like to see more of Wurzburg while you’re in the city, there’s this fun little sightseeing train that will take you to the highlights.

Where is the Würzburg Residence?

The Würzburg Residence is located at:
Residenzplatz 2, 97070, Würzburg, Germany.
You can see it on a map here.

When is the Würzburg Residence open?

The Würzburg Residence is open at the following times:
April – October: 0900 – 1800
November – March: 1000 – 1630

How much does it cost to visit the Würzburg Residence?

An entry ticket to the Würzburg Residence costs €7.50 for an adult.
A concession costs €6.50.
Admission to the Court Chapel and Gardens is free.

How do you get to the Würzburg Residence?

To get to the Würzburg Residence, catch the train to Würzburg. It is an easy 20 minute walk from the station.

Top tip

Make sure you leave yourself enough time to see the gardens properly – they are a beautiful addition to a trip to the main building.


You may think it best to stay near the palace, but Wurzburg is an interesting city so I’d suggest getting accommodation in the centre.


For a good budget option, I would suggest the cool Babelfish Hotel with a roof terrace.


If you’re looking for something mid-range, then Hotel Brehm, is one of your best options.


For a very modern hotel that’s comfortable and cool, I would suggest GHOTEL hotel & living.


And if you want to splurge, you can’t go past the majestic Schlosshotel Steinburg with amazing views.

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!
I'm on a mission to visit as many World Heritage Sites as I can. Only about 800 more to go... eek!

7 thoughts on “How the Würzburg Residence was destroyed”

  1. WOW, 40 years to finish. I’m glad massive reconstruction happened after WWII. Sure helped re-beautify Europe.

    That’s one good thing about the European city of Prague. If my memory serves me correctly, it was one of the few cities that was spare aerial bombing during the war.

    • It is really sad to thing of all the things destroyed by war, isn’t it? When you look at somewhere like Rotterdam, the entire centre of the city was lost and they created a new modern environment. But places like the Wurzburg Residence deserve to be restored to their original glory.

  2. Michael,
    I lived near Wurzburg for four years and visited this place many times. Germany has lots of Castles and such and this place was one of the more beautiful places. This place among others was rebuilt after WW2 and you would never know it if you weren’t told. Dresden is another place were most everything was destroyed but has been rebuilt. Seeing your photos brings back lots of memories.

    • I’m so glad to hear you’ve been here as well and seen it for yourself. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? And you’re so right – you wouldn’t know about the reconstructions if you didn’t know. They did a fantastic job (although you would hope so, considering the time and money!!)

  3. I just loved the fresco in the grand staircase! The garden is nice, but quite small. It certainly isn’t Versailles, but the Würzburger Residenz doesn’t lack refinement. Might be a bit of the common tourist tracks – other than that I can only recommend visiting the place.
    I too felt a bit sadened that the whole thing had been so thoroughly bombed during WWII – makes you wonder how necessairy all that war stuff is.

    • Oh my gosh, yes – the grand staircase and the fresco were stunning. At first I thought it was a waste to use so much space just for a flight of stairs but it’s such an important part of the whole design of the building. I guess that’s the first thing most visitors would have seen and it sets up the rest of residence so well.


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