June 28, 2015 – Wurzburg, Germany

(Note: Internet was non-existent the second week of the cruise. According to the boat staff it was “broken.”  We saw them plugging in new circuit boards late in the afternoon of the last day of the cruise. So now I have to reconstruct our days from memory, John’s notes and pictures.)

Wurzburg, how many times I have been here. A lot. A couple of times with John, once with John and Sarah, and once with Sophie and Eileen. We decide that since the boat should be in Wurzburg for the whole day, we will ditch the itinerary and make one of our own. First order of business, rent a car. It being Sunday this is not the easiest thing to do but Krum, the concierge, has taken our request as a challenge and arranges the whole thing. Part of the problem is that the boat is disgorging its passengers before it reaches Wurzburg and then picking them up someplace in Wurzburg.

We get on the bus with the rest of our compadres but when they get off for their tour we stay on and the bus driver, John and I, drive to the train station where there is a Sixt rental car office that opens at 10 AM. The fellow at the office is very nice even going to the trouble of finding us an automatic transmission since he knows that Americans no habla the manual transmission. (We could totally have driven a stick shift.)

Our automatic Audi Q3
Our automatic Audi Q3

We program the GPS and we are off! First stop, Herrgottskirche in Creglingen to see Tilman Riemenschneider’s Marianaltar carved 1505-1508. Today will be an intensive Riemenschneider (hereafter T.R.) day. We find the church with no problem. But, uh oh, NO FOTO! I am willing to buy a postcard but none of the pictures seem good enough. So I am snagging a couple off the internet.

Herrgottskirche, Creglingen, Germany
Herrgottskirche, Creglingen, Germany
Interior of Herrgottskirche, Creglingen
Interior of Herrgottskirche, Creglingen
Marianaltar carved by master carver, Tilman Riemenschneider showing the assumption of Mary into heaven
Marianaltar carved by master carver, Tilman Riemenschneider showing the assumption of Mary into heaven
Detail of Marianaltar - expressive faces and beautiful hands
Detail of Marianaltar – expressive faces and beautiful hands

Back in the car! Our next stop along the T.R. trail is Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber, a kind of medieval disneyland of a place. It’s mostly all authentic having been passed over by the centuries. After a lengthy detour we finally find the town and spend the next few hours visiting the the St. Jacob (James) church and having lunch.

Entering Rothenburg through one of the old wall gates
Entering Rothenburg through one of the old wall gates
Typical pretty street in Rothenburg. St. Jacob church in the background
Typical pretty street in Rothenburg. St. Jacob church in the background

St. Jacob’s church is renowned for its Blood Altar carved by T.R. The altar fits exactly in its spot with the window detail reflecting the actual windows of the church. Once again the faces are so expressive and the hands are beautiful.

Blood Altar, St. Jacob's Church, Rothenburg o.d.t.
Blood Altar, St. Jacob’s Church, Rothenburg o.d.t.
Last Supper detail
Last Supper detail
The central moment when Jesus hands the bread to Judas marking him as the traitor. Bag of coins in Judas's hand
The central moment when Jesus hands the bread to Judas marking him as the traitor. Bag of coins in Judas’s hand

There’s also another great altarpiece here in the main altar area. This is the Altar of the Twelve Apostles carved in 1446 by Fredrich Herlin. The big innovation between F.H. and T.R. is that T.R. eliminated the paint from his figures letting the wood shine through.

Altarpiece of the Twelve Apostles, St. Jacob's
Altarpiece of the Twelve Apostles, St. Jacob’s


Lunchtime! Just outside the church we find the Hotel Reichs Kuchenmeister with its outdoor eatery. We decide it is time for some real German food – wurst, kartoffel, sauerkraut und bier. Unknowingly, I order a raspberry beer the size of a small swimming pool. What a tasty lunch!

John und bier
John und bier
Mary und bier
Mary und bier
Wurst, kartoffel, und sauerkraut
Wurst, kartoffel, und sauerkraut

Our work here in Rothenburg is finished and now we head north again to take a look at the Stuppach Madonna by Matthias Grunewwald painted in 1519. The painting has its own little chapel and is considered to be one of the most important works of medieval panel painting. It’s an odd picture of the madonna in neon-like colors with a strange looking God the Father looking down from the left hand corner. At first look he looks like a set of praying hands but on closer inspection he’s actually a cartoonish diety.

The Stuppach Madonna
The Stuppach Madonna
God the Father from the upper left hand corner
God the Father from the upper left hand corner

We have one last stop to make before we return the car and that is to the Mainfrankisches Museum in Wurzburg where there is a whole room of Tilman Riemenschneiders!! This is where we first became acquainted with the Fourteen Holy Helpers, a group of Saints to pray to when ill or troubled. Each Saint has his or her specialty and they are shown in the T.R. carving with their various attributes. I especially like St. Denis on the right end. He helps with headaches due to the fact that he was martyred by having his head cut off and then walked around carrying his head and preaching sermons. In this rendition he not only carries his head but sports the original one as well.

Tilman Riemenschneider's carving of the Fourteen Holy Helpers
Tilman Riemenschneider’s carving of the Fourteen Holy Helpers
Detail - St. Denis carrying his head on the right
Detail – St. Denis carrying his head on the right

And just because I love the hands that Tilman Riemenschneider carves, here’s a whole gallery of them.


It’s time to return the car to the train station. Exactly at 6 P.M. as promised a taxi rolls up to takes us back to the boat. Our concierge has done an outstanding job!

Tonight I opt for one of the standard dinners – ribeye steak. At least these are not precooked so there’s a good chance that you can get it medium rare (if you order it rare.) John makes a main course out of the first course octopus. I think we are getting the hang of ordering food on the boat!


Peg and Ted have also had a good day with the tour group. They look happy!

Peg and Ted
Peg and Ted

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.