A thin strip of grass stretched along a rocky outcrop above the Main river, the palace gardens contain two of Aschaffenburg's most important sights, and some of the best views of the palace itself. Here you can find the pleasant St. Germain Terrace, perched above a small vineyard, the bright yellow Pompeiianum and the whitewashed Capuchin monastery.
The Herstall Tower is dated 1545 and carries the coat of arms of Cardinal Albert of Brandenburg who died that year. It's one of only two remaining towers from the town's original fortifications. Today it marks the beginning of Aschaffenburg's pedestrianised shopping area.
Palaces in Germany are typically a long way from any town, or at least far from the centre of a big city. They are pastel layer cakes surrounded by acres of parks and landscaped gardens. They are elegant, imperial monuments to the country's former nobility. But in Aschaffenburg the colossal Schloss Johannisburg is none of these. It sits right in the centre of the town, so tightly pressed between the Altstadt and the river that its gardens amount to little more than a strip of grass and polished gravel. I'd hazard to say it is unique in all Germany - I certainly haven't seen anything quite like it.
Schloss Johannisburg is a red sandstone monolith - as daunting a structure as the castle it replaced. It seems as if a giant cannonball could be fired upon its walls and its lead weight would simply rebound into the Main river below, leaving the palace walls without even a mark. It's not a beautiful palace, it's an imposing one - in fact the word imposing, like a picture, doesn't really do the building justice. You have to stand in its courtyard, pass by under it from the river promenade, or gaze upon it from the Adenauer bridge to get a true impression - preferably while listening to Bach's Easter Oratorio.
Johannisburg Palace and Museum
The Johannisburg Palace dominates the city and overlooks the Main river. The former second residence of the Mainz electoral archbishops (until 1803) the Palace was built in a four-winged structure but it retained the Keep of the old castle that was previously on this location. While the palace is impressive it loses some of it historic glory when you enter the museum and see the model of the palace at the end of WWII. The place was almost totally destroyed by American forces since the town was considered a fortress by Hitler and the Palace was the command post for the local commander.
The best part of the Palace is the museum located inside it. For a fairly cheap admission price (5.50 euro) you see some impressive models, art pieces and historic furniture. You start on the 1st floor with three models of what the old castle might have looked like, what the old Palace looked like and what the Palace looked like at the end of the war. From there you go into several rooms filled with cork models showing the most famous ruins of Rome. Take a moment to look the detail work Carl May and his son Georg put into each of them. Very impressive. I love the Colosseum the best.
From there (if I remember correctly) you enter the art galleries with numerous works by German and Dutch painters. These include works by Lucas Cranach and the elder. You then head up to the second floor (actually the third floor) to view the princely apartments with their original neoclassical interiors and furniture.
Plan on spending at least an hour in the museum and maybe much longer depending on your interests.
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Nikolaus Georg Reigersberger lived in this house. He was executory officer in the city of Mainz and responsible for litigation on witches. In 1648 he became chancellor of Mainz and on October 24 in the same year he was joint signatory of the treaty called the "Peace of Westphalia".
The Sandkirche was built in 18th century and is the only church that has not been destroyed in World War Two. The interior is in Roccoco style. The high altar made of marble and the ceiling frescoes worth a visit.
Stifskirche St. Peter und Alexander
The Stifskirche "St. Peter und Alexander " is the oldest building in town. It was erected in 10th century but experienced numerous reformations. In 19th century it was symbol of the arcbishops and electors of Mainz. Do not miss to visit the church - the decorative ornaments and the stainted windows are overwhelming.
In the centre of Aschaffenburg is this baroque palace from the mid 17th century. The castle hosts today the Scientific Museum as well as the town archieve. In the ground floor varying exhibition of local and regional artis can be visited. In the upper level is the town library where you can read scripts of the past centuries.
The current castle was build on the ruins of the former mediaeval fortress which was destroyed in 1552. Elector Johann Schweickard von Kronberg gave the order in 1604 to build a gorgeous castle of red and yellow sandstone.
In World War Two the castle was heavily damaged and it took almost twenty years to rebuilt. Now you can visit the castle.
Go through the castle cafe and enjoy a Mass (a litre of beer) in the beergarden. If you do not like beer try the excellent selection of regional wines.
Achaffenburg attracts visitors with a beautiful and romantic old town centre. Between Town Hall and Castle you find half-timbered houses, hundreds of years old churches and narrow cobblestone alleys. Here you find little cafes, restaurants and small gift shops.
My favorite area of this nice park was the small lake with the ruins of an old castle in the center, on an island. There is a small pedestrian bridge leading to the stone remnants. The bridge and the ruins, along with the surrounding red vines and weeping willows, formed my best photo from Aschaffenburg...
Stiftskirche (St Peter & Alexander Church)
The Church of St Peter & Alexander was constructed in the 1100s on a hill overlooking the Aschaffenburg old town. This beautiful structure is a unique combination of construction styles from Romanesque to baroque, as it is the product of many centuries of building and modification. Inside there is a crucifix from 980 AD.
Along the edge of the Main River, you will find beautiful Schloss Johannesburg. This palace was built in 1605-1614 for the prince-electors of Mainz. These prince-electors, or archbishops, typically held regional power from the larger cities such as Cologne, Mainz, Prague, Trier, Vienna, and Salzburg. The archbishops ruled under authority of the pope, and this area formed part of what is known as the Holy Roman Empire.
The castle itself is a red sandstone square with huge towers at each corner. In the center is a large, open courtyard.
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The Castle (Renaissance, 1605-1614)
Just half an hour away from Frankfurt, the 1000 year old impressive town of Aschaffenburg, bordered by the mountains of the Spessart and located on the river Main.
Beside the castle you can see the "Pompejanum", roman villa rebuilt on plans discovered in Pompeii are only two of the many examples for the long and rich history of this town.
Johannisburg Castle is a beautiful 16th century castle in Aschaffenburg. Situated on the bank of the Main River, the castle was the residence of the archbishops of Mainz, who acted as well as imperial Lord Chancellor and prime elector. The big medieval castle was mostly destroyed in the "Markgräfler War" in 1552. Under the archbishop Johann Schweikart von Kronberg the castle was completely rebuilt from 1605-1614, and only the medieval stronghold was integrated into the new, late renaissance castle. The architect of the powerful four-winged building with its prominent towers in the corners was Georg Ridinger. Although there were some alterations done in the classicistic era, and after severe damages in World War II, it still resembles the best example of a pure late renaissance castle in Germany.
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