The four towers of this massive 13th-century, hillside edifice dominate the skyline and steer you to a treasure that is reason enough to come to Bamberg. Sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider (you’ve met him in Würzburg) labored for 14 years over the tombs of Emperor Heinrich II, who erected the cathedral, and the emperor’s wife, Kunigunde. A bit of storytelling in stone depicts episodes from the couple’s life, including Kunigunde’s suspected adultery. Veit Stoss, whose beautiful and colorful carving of the Annunciation hangs above the nave of St. Lorenz-kirche in Nürnberg, carved the nativity altar in the south transept when he was close to 80; he made the altar for a church in Nürnberg at the request of his son, a prior, but when his son refused to accept Protestant doctrine the altar was rejected, removed here to Bamberg, and the elder Stoss was never paid. An equestrian statue, the Bamberger Reiter, has raised questions almost since it was unveiled in the 13th century. It’s been proposed that the horseman is a German emperor or, according to the Nazis, an idealized Christian king of the Middle Ages showing the way to the eastern lands they were meant to conquer. Current thought has him as Stephen, an 11th-century Hungarian king. The cathedral also houses the only papal tomb north of the Alps, that of Pope Clement II; a bishop of Bamberg, Clement served less than a year and died, possibly from poisoning, in 1047 while traveling to Rome.
- Frommer's Staff