The bishop's residence
Since a while Limburg has a new attraction: the "Diözesane Zentrum St Nikolaus" – or mostly rather called bishop's residence. It was built by the former bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst and finished 2013. Two old houses were completely renovated, one (the "Alte Vikarie") to include meeting and working rooms for the bishop, the other one to be home for two nuns who'll operate the complex. Besides, a private chapel for the bishop was built as well as a new building as living space for the bishop.
What made this place even into the world-wide news is the high costs of over 30 million Euros, which is extremely higher than what was originally planned. There are many reasons for this – like carving out a cellar in the rock, only using noble materials, newly design a garden which was just recently rebuilt, or a 200.000€ coi carp pool.
This did a lot of damage to the image of the catholic church, but somehow also attracts lots of visitors. You can't see much, just catch a glimpse through the fence which usually is closed. What can't be overlooked is the private chapel with its black basalt roof, though, which I think does not really fit into a historic city centre.
In any case the bishop did resign, for several reasons and not only this cost explosion, and it's unclear what this place will be used for in future. Let's see what the new bishop thinks, whoever this will be!
At the east end of the river promenade there is a pretty little park overlooking the weir on the Lahn. There are two waterwheels, one barely functional, the other gushing with water power. There is also a pavilion that nicely frames the river and Altebrucke, and a possibly even one or two hissing geese. The whole park sits dramatically under the sheer rock cliff that leads up to the castle and its cathedral.
Subdued by its near neighbour the cathedral, Limburg's castle is easy to miss, but it's here where the modern town started. Built to protect the profitable trade crossing the river Lahn below, the castle is pretty much as it was laid out nearly a thousand years ago, with the first buildings appearing centuries even before that around 800AD. The cathedral started out as little more than a small monastic church built for the burial of the castle's owner, but has since outgrown the complex that spawned it.
St. George's Cathedral
The Cathedral of Limburg, daubed in a brash ochre and beige, is not the most attractive church in the world, nor is it all that large for a cathedral. It's barely 37 meters tall, a midget compared to Cologne's, but it is impressive. Just the sheer size of it relative to the tiny town, and its commanding position upon the Limburger Rock, make it stand out for miles around. Posed against the soft trees and sparkling waters of the Lahn, it's one of the most picturesque sights in Germany.
Limburg Cathedral's gained notoriety recently for the activities of the "Bishop of Bling". The Catholic church of Germany was scandalised when it was reported that Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst new residence was to cost 31 million euros. The costs included a 20,000 euro bath and a 200,000 euro fish tank. The residence can be seen opposite the Cathedral, but you won't find the "Bishop of Bling" there as he resigned.
The key to Limburg's wealth, even existence, and a link between Frankfurt and Cologne since Roman times, the Alte Lahnbrücke is a solid stone piece of German history. It once formed part of Via Publica, then a large wooden bridge was built between the two shores in the 12th century, finally to be rebuilt once more in stone after flooding the others away.
It's a bridge of six charming arches that rise in the middle, and was once flanked by two large towers, but the bridge on the Taunus side was removed to free up the ever increasing traffic. Today most of that traffic has been diverted out of town, leaving an historic bridge that can be mostly enjoyed without car fumes. It's also the best place to photograph the cathedral and old town.
The river Lahn rolls peacefully under the rock of Limburg. The wide shadow cast by the town is broken by broad beams of sunlight that dance across its lightly rippled surface. The waters of the Lahn are so untroubled that it can act like a mirror, effectively doubling the beauty of the town's sights.
A short promenade along the river starts somewhere between the waterwheels and the weir to the east of the city and continues under the cathedral to the Alte Lahnbrücke in the west.
The tall, half-timbered town houses of Limburg have a distinct lean and are quintessential Germany. The town was spared the bombs of World War 2, due to lack of industry and isolation from major cities, so the cluster of homes and shops around the hilltop cathedral are really quite special.
In the centre of Limburg stands the statue of a man drinking wine from a barrel which pours from above his head. The man stands on a dog, has a dwarf in his pocket. To his right is a woman atop a tree, above an own, with a snail at her foot. On his left there is a skeleton with a sword. It all makes sense in a weird kind of way, and relates to a story of the Robber Baron Friedrich von Hattstein, a former captain of the city, and the legends that surround him.
Square in front of the station
If you come by train, you probably won't miss this place (except you turn left immediately after leaving the station building!). There are some names written on the sides of the fountain - these are the villages that also belong to Limburg. From this place, you can start your walk through the "new" city to the "old" city - it's not far, and you just have to go straight ahead!
On the photo, you also see the protestant church of Limburg - there is one, although Limburg is rather catholic. But the inside is not really worth a visit (so naked), besides I suppose the church is most of the time closed.
The cathedral is enthroned on a rock high above the town and the river Lahn and thus can be seen for miles around. It’s an impressive late Romanesque structure with 7 steeples. With a height of 66 metres the crossing’s steeple overtops the remaining 6. But the cathedral’s paintings (both inside and at the façade) constitute the structure’s particularity. Today there are only few churches of this size to be found in Europe that show similar late Romanesque art of painting. Almost 80% of the cathedral’s beautiful mural paintings have been preserved and therefore the church has been rated a “building of historic importance”. This official title involves government funds for renovation and helps preserving this amazing cathedral.
The 1st church was built on this spot in 10th century by order of Count Konrad Kurzbold. But not even 200 years later a new, bigger church was built on the foundations of the original one. The laying of the foundation stone is assumed to have been taking place between the years 1175 and 1200; the cathedral was consecrated in 1235 by Archbishop Theoderich von Wied.
In 1827 Limburg was converted into an independent bishopric and the former collegiate church St. Georg officially became a cathedral.
Church service: daily at 10:15 am
Guided tours can be attended:
Tuesdays – Fridays at 11:00 am and 03:00 pm
Saturdays at 11:00 am
Sundays at 11:45
Groups have to sign up in advance:
Phone: +49 (0)6431 929 983
Fax +49 (0)6431 929 985
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
- Religious Travel
Limburg Old Town
Limburg does have one of the most fascinating accumulation of half-timbered houses I’ve ever seen. The complete old town today is under preservation order. I’ve very much enjoyed just aimlessly walking through the cobblestone streets and alleys and inspecting the facades of these beautiful medieval houses. Some of these are decorated with colourful carved figures and inscriptions or do have lovely oriels and balconies. Some carvings show bible scenes or emblems, some draw conclusion on the building’s constructors. And even though we might not be able to perceive the meaning of each ornamentation it’s still a pleasure to reflect upon these works of art.
In 1298 Limburg was heavily damaged by a huge fire and many houses had to be reconstructed afterwards. A few of these late 13th century houses have remained and can be admired today. There’s a beautiful half-timbered house at Bergstrasse, for example, which dates back to 1298. Another one of these extraordinarily old houses can be found at the street called Römer.
But at the old town of Limburg you can find buildings descending from various centuries. At the street called Fischmarkt alone there are houses from 15th, 16th and 17th century. There also are many beautiful medieval houses in vicinity of the cathedral.
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
Alte Lahnbrücke (Old Lahn Bridge)
Already at the early Middle Ages Limburg used to be an important junction of goods traffic. Ancient merchant roads like the Via Publica (leading from Brussels to Prague) and military roads like the Via Regia (leading from Köln to Frankfurt) both crossed the river Lahn at Limburg. People and goods had to be ferried across the river until in 12th century a wooden bridge was built. High waters did frequently damage or even destroy this bridge, though. A stone bridge replaced the original structure in 14th century. In 1357 a toll was levied on crossing the bridge in order to finance the construction works. This fee had to be paid until 1905- today crossing the bridge is free of charge.
In the middle of the bridge you can see a statue of St. Nepomuk (the patron saint of bridges) and a medieval stone cross donated by survivors of the Plague epidemic of 1349. In late 15th century a chapel was added to one of the bridge’s towers to commemorate the victims of another Plague epidemic. Unfortunately this chapel had to be pulled down in 1827 as it was unsound. The Lahn bridge has repeatedly been damaged and partly been destroyed throughout the centuries due to its strategic importance but always has been reconstructed and renovated.
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
Hattstein fountain "Der Säufer" (the soaker)
It still remember the discussions and complains about this Hattstein fountain on the Plötze place. Before, there was the Holy George with the dragon (which is now found on the Neumarkt), and in 1985 he was replaced by a modern fountain showing a soaker with a beer barrel. What a difference!
The fountain is showing Friedrich von Hattstein, who supposedly was a dangerous robber-knight in the 14th century and was appointed as captain of the city guard (although this may sound weird). It's said that the drank 156 litre wine from a barrel that he was holding, which should be a sign for his strength – not for drunkenness, like most would think!
- Historical Travel
Pedalos and BBQ Donuts
I guess you know a pedalo/ paddleboat. But have you ever heard of the "BBQ Donut"? It's a round boat for up to 10 persons with a built-in grill and was invented by someone from Limburg. Currently you'll only see them in Limburg, but they plan to offer them at other locations, too. I haven't yet seen them when driving and couldn't do a good photo, but you'll find some on their webpage.
The prices vary from 29 Euro to 59 Euro per hour depending on what you plan - to drive only, to have some drinks or to have a barbecue. You need to book the drinks and food from them and are not allowed to bring your own drinks/food - that makes it even more expensive. But it's a funny idea!
You also can rent pedalos there for maximum 4 persons: 10 Minutes costs 2 Euro, 1 hour costs 10 Euro and a whole day costs 45 Euro.
- Water Sports
- Sailing and Boating
Take a boat trip with the "Wappen von Limburg"
There's a boat called "Wappen von Limburg" (something like "emblem of Limburg") which goes both upstream (to Dehrn) and downstream (to Balduinstein). I'd more recommend the trip downstream, as then you'll pass the lock in Limburg which may be interesting!
They offer different tours at different days, you'll find the information on their webpage. They don't run on Mondays and only in July/August they will drive on Thursdays.
On board, you can get drinks and also some food - it's not allowed to eat/drink that you've brought yourself.
There needs to be a minimum of 25 persons, otherwise the boat won't run.
The price varies depending where you want to go. For the roundtrip to Dehrn it will cost 7,50 Euro (adults)/ 5 Euro (children). To Balduinstein it's 11,50/ 8,00 Euro (single trip) or 15,50/ 10,50 Euro (round trip).
- Sailing and Boating
- Family Travel