500-year anniversary of the Reformation
Throughout the course of history, Franconia was shaped especially by the period called the “Confessionalized Era.” This period started in 1517 with Martin Luther posting his theses and it ended in 1648 with the Thirty-Year-War.
Precisely those decades are the focus in Franconia in 2017. 2017 marks the 500-year anniversary of the Reformation and the time period is remembered especially vividly in the towns of Coburg, Rothenburg ob der Tauber and Nueremberg.
Martin Luther resided in the Veste Coburg Fortress for several months in 1530 and it seems fitting that the fortress houses the Bavarian State Exhibit with the title “Knights, Peasants, and Lutherans” (May 9 – November 5, 2017). The exhibit explores how Martin Luther and the posting of his theses changed the Holy Roman Empire of German Nations. With the same intention, numerous other events in Franconia celebrate the Reformation anniversary in 2017. There are Luther bicycle tours, concerts, outdoor performances, exhibits, and so much more. Rothenburg ob der Tauber, for example, offers a special exhibit at the Medieval Crimes Museum that runs through 2018. And Nuremberg as the location of two large exhibits, displays the Reformation as the big change that took place in the 16th century.
Würzburg Prince-Bishop Julius Echter
But there was also strong resistance to the Reformation movement.
One of its strongest opponents was the Würzburg Prince-Bishop Julius Echter von Mespelbrunn. 2017 marks the 400th anniversary of his death. His legacy is easily noticeable throughout the UNESCO World Heritage city. For example, Echter sponsored the Juliusspital Hospital and founded the Würzburg University. But the Prince-Bishop also had a dark side: As a Reformation opponent, he was merciless and he was just the same when it came to the expulsion of Jews and the persecution of so-called witches. The Museum at the Dom church in Würzburg explores Echter and his era with the exhibit “Julius Echter 1573-1617: The Controversial Prince Bishop – An Exhibit after 400 Years” (June 23 – September 17, 2017). The Martin von Wagner Museum of the Würzburg University, on the other hand, highlights how Echter’s support for the arts and sciences brought Würzburg into the international Renaissance scene. The exhibit “Julius Echter – Patron of the Arts” runs from June 25 – September 24, 2017.
Among the rulers of Franconia, this dynasty that stands out.
Their role started out innocently as burgraves of Nuremberg in the Middle Ages and culminated in the coronation as German Emperors centuries later. The rapid ascent of the Hohenzollern to becoming one of the most influential German families of nobility can be experienced in a suspense-filled way at the Cadolzburg in the Romantic Franconia region. The fortress is not only architecturally impressive, it was also the power center of the Hohenzollern family for many years.
Today, the Cadolzburg is home to a new discovery museum that lets the Hohenzollern rulers come to life with the theme "HerrschaftsZeiten" (Noble Times). Among several characters, you get to know the extraordinary Margrave Wilhelmine of Bayreuth who transformed that town into an impressive residential city by supporting the arts and sponsoring magnificent buildings. The most outstanding example is the Margravial Opera House that is now listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. But you can also find evidence of the Hohenzollern in the cities of Ansbach, Erlangen, Kulmbach, Weissenburg i.Bay., Roth, Heilsbronn and others.
The last section of this European waterway was finished in the Altmühl Nature Park in 1992. The canal is 171 km long and cuts through Franconia for most of its length. Today, the canal connects the Main River at Bamberg with the Danube at Kelheim – and in a sense the North Sea to the Black Sea. A great way to experience the canal is on a sightseeing boat or cruise ship. But you can also ride your bicycle alongside the canal through Franconia’s vacation regions.