Today I’m going to pretend to be playfully fun and preface the post with a question. Here we go! 😀
What do you imagine a drink called “barbecued beer” tastes like?
I go to school in Memphis, Tennessee, and so when my professor informed us that today’s studies would be taking place in Bamberg, Germany, and that we just had to try local specialty “barbecued beer”, I imagined it would taste like some rich, tangy barbecue sauce.
That was… sort of the case. While I think my prediction stemmed from a craving for the flavors of home, I know that both the barbecued beer and the city of Bamberg made for an interesting day.
Seeing as I’ve spent enough time pandering, let’s get to the rundown of our day in Bamberg, Germany!
Getting to Bamberg
Getting to Bamberg from Nuremberg took only 45 minutes by bus, making it an ideal day trip from either city. As usual, the bus ride was fine but uneventful.
The Cathedral of Bamberg
The Cathedral of Bamberg was the main destination for our class today, so after arriving, we made our way there.
The cathedral itself is built on a low hill, so you get some cool views of Bamberg from the Domplatz, the name of the cathedral square.
Checking out Bamberg from the Domplatz
Fun fact: the Cathedral of Bamberg actually has two patron saints.
The east end of the cathedral is dedicated to St. George, which was probably a good choice as there are three doors on the eastern facade, each with their own tympanum.
Why three, though? Because each one was to be used by different visitors.
The first door, called the Fürstenportal, was intended for the emperor’s use only. Its tympanum depicts a scene from the last judgement, complete with lots of grotesque happy and sad faces. This entrance’s function is meant to remind us that no one is safe from judgement, not even emperors. Cheery, no?
The emperor’s Fürstenportal
If you’re wondering what the figures on the sides represent, they are characters from a biblical parable “standing on the shoulders of giants”.
I thought we were going to go more in depth about the other two doors, the Adamspforte and Gnadenpforte, but we did not. I suppose they are the ones intended for the “commoners”.
Adamspforte and Gnadenpforte, not sure if I got the order right though
That being said, after looking at Adamspforte we made our way inside.
As you would expect from a cathedral, the inside of the Cathedral of Bamberg is humongous. It’s also multi-tiered, which is kind of unusual but makes exploring more interesting.
One of the cathedral’s main draws is its famous equestrian statue. Looking back at photos, I think the this statue is decent, a fine example compared to the other’s we’ve analyzed. But according to my academic journal, the WTB from 7 months ago remarked that “one of the first things I noticed was the worst equestrian statue I’d ever seen.” upon entering the cathedral, and that, “The horse is what really got me. It looks like the plastic horses I used to get in McDonalds happy meals.”
The equestrian statue in the cathedral of Bamberg
Ouch. To be fair, this equestrian statue is one of the older ones, evidenced by the fact that you can see the little support beams on its legs. This indicates that this statue was made in a time before artists had learned to properly balance a statue’s weight in stone.
Let’s move on from bashing the horse statue.
Another cool aspect of the cathedral is that it holds the raised tombs of King/Emperor Henry II and his wife, Empress Kunigunde. The tombs weren’t actually completed until 500 years after they died, but who’s counting? The effigies (sculpted likenesses of the dead bodies) on top of the tombs are placed facing the altar so that the two can “participate” in church services. The walls of the tombs are carvings of scenes from the royals’ lives. One of these scenes depicts Kunigunde walking across hot swords to prove she was innocent after she was accused of adultery. What?!
Something especially interesting about the cathedral is the fact that its walls and ceiling used to be covered in colorful fresco. Some of these frescoes depicted wacky and often grotesque faces that would stick their tongue out or something to that degree, as this was a staple of the “messy” Romanesque style. Apparently, people thought they were “distasteful” decorations for a church and the majority of them were painted over. How sad is that?
Some of the only remaining faces in the cathedral of Bamberg
Finally, we paid a visit to the crypt. Oh yes, this part is cool.
I don’t like to take pictures of dead bodies just as a rule of thumb, so I don’t remember who exactly is down there, but I’m pretty sure I saw Pope Clement II and a few archbishops. There is also a reliquary containing one of the nails from the true cross.
Like I said, the Cathedral of Bamberg is huge, and so there is a lot to see both outside and in. That being said, I think our 30-45 minutes was the perfect amount of time to spend in here, and afterwards, we made our way to a nearby museum.
For more info on the Bamberg Cathedral’s admission and hours of operation, click here
After leaving the cathedral, our professor gave us two options: either we could explore Bamberg on our own or have a guided visit to the nearby Diocesan Museum. After learning my lesson about passing up opportunities in Innsbruck, I enthusiastically agreed to see what this museum was all about.
My first impression was that it is confusing. This museum appears to be fairly new based on its sparse interior and positioning of the art pieces, but that wasn’t what made it strange. The first section of the museum contains a bunch of art pieces that seemingly have no relation to each other. For example, one was an equestrian statue that was objectively worse than the one we’d just seen in the cathedral, and another piece was a glass vial that dripped yellow/orange-y water into another glass vial.
The first gallery at the Diocesan museum with its miscellaneous art
After we entered the other sections of the museum, the theme began to make sense. The name “Diocesan museum” should have been a hint, but after seeing a whole wall adorned with elaborate vestments (capes for priests), I realized that this was a museum full of Catholic memorabilia. I was raised Irish Catholic so this was pretty cool to see.
A room full of vestments and the only picture I took was of my own zodiac sign. Go figure.
Besides vestments, there is a whole room dedicated to ornate candelabras (usually used for the sacrament of baptism), and another room full of christian art. Our professor was so enthusiastic that he got too close to one of the paintings and set the alarm off!
What is most impressive about the Diocesan museum is the sheer number of religiously important relics it has in its possession. These relics, or holy items, consisted mostly of well-dressed skulls. Yes, you heard that right. Some of them were given little hats, and some are decked out with jewels. I guess it just depends on the nature of the person who’s skull it was.
Quite frankly, I’m shocked that a place like this doesn’t get more visitors or attention from followers of the Bible. I mean, they have (what is supposedly) Luke the Evangelists’ skull for crying out loud! To give you a sense of how huge that is, there are four evangelists: Mark has a huge cathedral that was built to house his body in Venice’s central square (which was also named after Mark), and John has a cathedral in the Vatican City dedicated to him.
So where’s the fanfare for Luke? It just doesn’t seem fair to me.
I know I said I don’t take pictures of the dead, but this seemed a little less morally dubious because the skull is covered up in jewels
Anyways, this museum was actually awesome. The saint’s skulls and vestments really made this religious museum different from any other museum I’ve visited. It may be less interesting if you’re not into holy relics, so I may be biased here.
After finishing up at the Diocesan museum, it was finally time to try Bamberg’s famous barbecued beer!
Finally time for Bamberg’s Barbecued Beer
We looked around for awhile trying to pick the perfect restaurant for lunch, but ended up sitting outside an adorable place right by the river! Only problem was that the food was quite expensive. So I did the mature and logical thing, and got barbecued beer and blueberry pancakes for lunch. It ended up being one of the best decisions I’ve made on the trip thus far, so that must tell you something about my ability to make logical choices.
Kayakers on the River Regnitz in Bamberg
They brought out our beers first so let’s start with that.
It… did not taste like barbecue sauce.
Bamberg’s barbecued beer is a very dark ale with an aftertaste that I can only describe as liquid smoke. So it honestly wasn’t the tastiest drink I’ve ever had, and was a bit tricky to swallow the first few sips. However, I got used to the repugnant taste more quickly than I thought and was able to finish the glass (thankfully we had the foresight to order the small ones). I will say this, barbecued beer is an iconic drink considering I can still perfectly imagine its taste to this day.
Barbecued beer, cheers!
The blueberry pancakes, by contrast, exceeded my expectations. Not only were they served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, but there were, and I kid you not: red, yellow, and purple flower petals sprinkled on top. It was a dessert fit for fairy princesses and I was loving it. 10/10 a great lunch overall.
Blueberry pancakes with ice cream AND flowers!
After lunch, it was time to head back to Nuremberg. As we made our way back through the pedestrian-only portion of the city, we passed by more storybook buildings and some kayakers making their way down the river. In November!
One last walk thru Bamberg
I absolutely enjoyed our day trip to Bamberg, Germany!
It was an easy day trip from Nuremberg, and besides the beautiful buildings and layout of the city, there are plenty of things to do to fill up a day here.
As for Bamberg’s barbecued beer, you can take it or leave it. I do think that it is worth a try on the basis that it is an ale like you’ve never tasted! If the barbecue beer sounds a little too adventurous for you, I would highly recommend the blueberry pancakes 🙂
Where did she come from? Nuremberg, Germany
Where is she going (next)? Nuremberg, Germany