High above Würzburg on the west side of the Main River is the Festung Marienberg, a fortress that was built starting around the year 1200 on the site of a much older fortified retreat of the “Hallstatt” period (about 1000 BC).
There are two well-marked paths leading up to the fortress, both of which begin at the west end of the Alte Mainbrücke (Old Main Bridge). The more direct route is by way of the Tellsteige, which leads uphill through a series of well-manicured parks and takes about 20 minutes. The longer route is through the vineyards on the slope below the castle and above the river. This route takes about 40 minutes and offers some great views from various levels, but there is no shade so don’t do it on an extremely hot summer day.
The Marienberg Fortress has been attacked and badly damaged twice. The first time was in 1631 — the thirteenth year of what is now called the Thirty Years’ War — when the fortress was stormed by a Swedish army. After the Swedes moved on, the Prince-Bishop at the time, Johann Philipp von Schönborn, ordered the building of a circle of massive bastions, which still exist around the edges of the fortress.
The second destruction was in 1945, at the end of the Second World War, when a huge fire destroyed everything that was burnable. This time the reconstruction took forty-five years — it wasn’t finished until 1990.
As you walk around the Marienberg Fortress you can get lots of good views in different directions out over the Main Valley and the city of Würzburg. This particular view is from the garden of a self-service restaurant just inside the outer wall of the fortress.
Here are two ships on the Main River in Würzburg, as seen from Marienberg Fortress.
My photos in this post are from 2005. I revised the text in 2022.