April 20, 2012 Wurzburg and Rothenburg ob der Tauber

After a semi-successful night of sleep we are ready for new adventures. This morning we are going to the Marienberg Fortress in Wurzburg where the Mainfrankisches Museum is located. We are on the hunt for wood carvings by Gothic carver, Tilman Riemenschneider. We have discovered that there are 81 of his (or his workshop’s) carvings in the museum located high above Wurzburg in the fortress.

Breakfast is served at the Stadt-Mainz. For such a modest hotel, the breakfast is quite sumptuous. There are all kinds of cured meats, fish and shellfish, cheese, pickled vegetables, a whole pork roast, homemade jams, rolls, eggs, and cereal. We linger over breakfast discussing today’s plans under the watchful eye of a stag’s head.

Sarah in the Stadt-Mainz breakfast room

Our breakfast companion

We make our way to the Fortress and rent audio guides. There is a lot to see. It is hard to be choosey.

Sarah and Mom in a room of antique instruments

We wander through the rooms listening to our audio guides and finally make our way to the Tilman Riemenschneider hall. Wow, it is jam-packed with exciting wood and stone carvings. Some that we especially like are the St. Sebastian who was tied to a tree and shot with arrows (he survived, though), a lovely Virgin Mary and a frieze of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. (A list of the Fourteen Holy Helpers follows the pictures.)

St. Sebastian

Detail of St. Sebastian's hands

Painted wood carving of the Virgin Mary

Closer view of the Virgin Mary statue

The Fourteen Holy Helpers are a special group of saints who can be called upon to intercede with God to help cure various ills. They became popular in Germany during the Black Death. In case of problems, they are:
St. Margaret – protector in childbirth
St. Barbara – invoke for fever
St. Catherine – pray to for relief from sudden death
St. Christopher – the saint for plague and protector for travelers
St. Giles – also for plague
St. Denis – good for headaches
St. Agatha – also for headache relief
St. Blaise – reliever of sore throats
St. Elmo – takes care of stomachaches
St. Vitus – protector against epilepsy
St. Pantaleon – patron saint of physicians and prayed to for cancer and TB
St. Cyriacus – helper against temptation while on your deathbed
St. Eustace – invoke to keep safe from family discord
St. George – takes care of the health of your domestic animals

Woodcarving by Tilman Riemenschneider of the Fourteen Holy Helpers

Leaving Wurzburg, we head to Creglingen, home of the Herrgottskirche or “our Lord’s church” founded after a farmer found an undamaged host in the field he was plowing. First we stop for lunch in the cute village. There are spargel (asparagus) specialties on the menu and we all start with cream of spargel soup. John and I have perch with fried potato puffs and Sarah has spaetzl and cheese. We decide it must be the German version of the blue box.

Cream of spargel soup

Perch with fried potato puffs

Spaetzl and cheese

We head to the church with great anticipation of seeing another Riemenschneider masterpiece. Unfortunately, it seems someone quite beloved had died and there is a funeral going on. There are a lot of mourners. We decide to put off our visit until tomorrow and go to the Fingerhut Museum across the street. A fingerhut is a thimble. Inside there are a lot of thimbles, etui, needle holders, darning eggs etc. The proprietor has spent his life collecting this stuff. It is mildly interesting.

Sarah and Mom by the Thimble Museum

We reach Rothenburg ob der Tauber around 3 PM. We check into our hotel, the Burg Hotel, which is built into the wall of this fortified city. We decide to have a little nap and reconvene in a couple of hours.

John in front of the Burg Hotel

Refreshed, we start a walk around the old city. We check out the schneeballen which are snowball-like pastries.
Schneeballen display

We walk up on the walls and enjoy the charming city.

Charming city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber

But, oh no, what’s this? The wind picks up, the temperature drops, and it starts raining hard and cold, almost hailing. Best thing to do? Have a beer.
Sarah having a beer

Later on that evening we have dinner at a local restaurant. We start with Franconian tapas which is a little soup, some smoked salmon, saurbraten bits and pork with lentils. It is quite good and tasty. I forget to take a picture. Then on to our spargel laden dinner. I opt for a salad. Sarah has spargel with bratwurst and potatoes and John has salmon with vegetables, potatoes and grilled white spargel.

Spargel salad with ham

Sarah's dinner - bratwurst, spargel and potatoes

John orders salmon with vegetables including grilled white asparagus and potatoes

Dinner is good. We are stuffed once again and head back to the hotel. Hopefully, a better sleep tonight.

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