Bieramt: Blaue Stunde am Tiergärtnertorplatz in Nürnberg

A holiday region for gourmets, lovers of art and opera, climbers, sailors and all those who enjoy celebrating the run-up to Christmas. Let us introduce you to everything you just shouldn’t miss. Text: Markus Stein

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Stroll through Franconia

What makes the Bavarian region of Franconia so unique? It’s not just the stubborn refusal to enunciate the letters “t” and “p”, which locals utter as a soft “d” and “b”, but - along with many other things - its cuisine, which many gourmets consider to be the best and finest Bavaria has to offer, and its wines

Tasty: Schäufele and Schlenkerla

Franconia is famous for its wines, grown on the banks of the River Main and its tributaries - distinctive in character and often sold in the unmistakeable Bocksbeutel bottle. The list of culinary specialities is a long one.

The region boasts a legendary variety of different spicy sausages - Nürnberger, Hofer, Kulmbacher, Coburger and more - preferably served in the sandwich known as a “Drei im Weggla”. It is also noted for its street food and finger food classics! The sausages are often served in a sour sauce, when they are known as “Blaue Zipfel” (blue tips).

Then there is the crispy Schäufele (pork shoulder), Franconian Sauerbraten (a marinated pot roast without raisins), Aischgründer carp, baked or steamed, and last but not least the Klöße dumplings, usually made from a combination of raw and boiled potatoes.

The Nuremberg Gingerbread is world-famous, and the density of breweries in Upper Franconia is unique in the world, as is Bamberg’s Schlenkerla Rauchbier (smoked beer). The haute cuisine is also something rather special. Over 50 restaurants in Franconia are currently awarded Gault-Millau points or Michelin stars, including the “Essigbrätlein” in Nuremberg, the “Posthotel-Restaurant” in Wirsberg and the “Sosein” in Heroldsberg.

Climbing, sailing or hiking

Anyone who enjoys keeping fit will find plenty to do here. Nature lies right outside the Franconian front door. The Fichtelgebirge mountains in the northeast rise up like a horseshoe to 1,000 metres and offer a dense network of hiking and cycling trails, as does the Franconian Forest in the north. Franconian Switzerland in the middle rejoices in a number of highly romantic castles and palaces, as well as caves and fantastic rock climbing sites.

The Franconian Lake District to the south of Nuremberg only developed in recent decades and makes an ideal destination for sailors and windsurfers, or for a family holiday. A green interplay of forest and open fields is the hallmark of the gently undulating Haßberge mountains in Lower Franconia.

Well-marked hiking trails can also be found in Spessart-Mainland and in the Steigerwald forest. Woodland, basalt knolls, remote plateaus, moorland and friendly villages characterise the Rhön, a volcanic mountain region in the northwest with the Kreuzberg, Franconia’s “Holy Mountain” (complete with monastery including brewery!)

Mathias Rippstein: in seinem Weingut und der dazugehörigen Heckenstube werden fränkische Bräuche neu interpretiert
Der Snow White Gin will gut verkostet sein
Bamberg: Ein Ausflugsdampfer auf der Regnitz

City tour: Kaiserburg and Kugellager

Franconia’s cities are a real experience: steeped in history, rich in art and culture, yet at the same time young and lively. Nuremberg, home to Albrecht Dürer, is proud of its Kaiserburg, churches and museums and the hip district of Gostenhof, but it also acknowledges the darker side of its history with the Nazi Party Rally Grounds Documentation Centre. Fürth is resplendent with its Gründerzeit and Jugendstil architecture, Erlangen with its castle, castle gardens, Margravial theatre and Baroque city planning.

Unique to Aschaffenburg, the Pompejanum is a replica of a Roman dwelling, initiated by King Ludwig 1, who was fascinated by the ancient world. In Schweinfurt, a hotspot for ball bearings and couplings, visitors shouldn’t miss the Georg Schäfer Museum with paintings from the 19th century (Spitzweg!) and the Kunsthalle, home to a contemporary art collection.

Serious opera!

Kulmbach is known as the “Secret Capital of Beer”, with a Beer Week, a Brewery Museum and speciality beers. UNESCO World Heritage Site status has been conferred on Würzburg with its Prince-Bishop Residence featuring frescos by Tiepolo, Bamberg with its Old Town as a complete work of urban art and Bayreuth with the unique Baroque Margravial Opera House - plus the Green Hill which is home to the Bayreuth Festival, a world-famous event with cult status dedicated to the music of Wagner.

Noblesse oblige, even in smaller but sophisticated towns: for centuries, Ansbach was characterised by its Margraviate and Coburg was the residence town of the Dukes of Saxe-Coburg. The Middle Ages come to life with half-timbered houses, city wall and towers in Rothenburg ob der Tauber - the medieval icon par excellence -, in Dinkelsbühl and in Forchheim.

Literaturbalkon: Die Weine vom Würzburger Stein inspirierten bereits Goethe

A beautiful tradition: Easter well decorations

At Easter, around 200 places in Franconian Switzerland adorn their wells with seasonal decorations. From Holy Week until two weeks after Easter, they are a sight to behold with their gaily painted Easter eggs, flowers, wreaths and garlands. Paper ribbons known as “Pensala”, and used either singly or bundled together, are as much a regular feature of the decorations as real flowers. The average Easter well decoration has around 80 linear metres of garland and up to 2,000 painted egg shells!

Parish fair: climb that tree!

The Kärwa (Kirchweih, or Parish fair) is a fixed element of the Franconian festival calendar. A host of customs are represented, including tree climbing in Gunzenhausen and the Etwashäuser parade in Kitzingen with flower-bedecked carts, musical bands and groups dressed in traditional costumes. At the Hahnentanz (hen dance), girls and boys twirl around the “Huhnerbaum” (hen tree). A rod is passed from couple to couple as they go. Anyone left holding a rod when the bell rings needs to fend off the rest of the group.

At the Gochsheim parish fair in the Franconian winegrowing district, the historic Plantanz is the main feature, with dancers performing waltzes and other dances from as far afield as the Rhineland and Scotland. Originally, the Kärwa or parish fair was held to mark the consecration of a church or the name day of a saint. These have often turned into multi-day folk festivals, such as the well-known Erlanger Bergkirchweih, which dates back to the year 1755 and attracts up to a million visitors each year.

Grüner Waldsee im Fichtelgebirge bei Bad Alexandersbad

The Christ Child is coming

The roots of what is probably Bavaria’s most famous festival are said to go back to 1628: the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg. Once this Christmas market has been opened by the Christ Child himself (portrayed by a lucky infant chosen from a multitude of applicants), around 180 red and white painted wooden booths sell a variety of goods, most of which are local to Nuremberg: gingerbread, fruit cake, Zwetschgenmännla (figures made from dried plums) and Christmas tree decorations. And, naturally, Nuremberg Rostbratwürste (Speciality sausages)!

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