History has twice been kind to beautiful BAMBERG, for centuries until secularization in 1802, capital of an independent Catholic prince-bishopric within the Holy Roman Empire. Occupied twice by the Swedes during the Thirty Years’ War, it was spared the wholesale destruction visited on so many German cities by that conflict. By some miracle, it came through World War II with barely a scratch too. It thus preserves a wonderfully complete historic townscape, notable not just for its highlights – the four-spired Dom, the Baroque Residenz or the picturesque old Rathaus on an island in the river – but also for its quaint corners and quiet, narrow lanes, worth exploring for their lost-in-time charm and traditional brewery-owned Gaststätten. No wonder UNESCO put Bamberg’s entire historic centre on its World Heritage list in 1993. Compact enough to be explored in a few days, Bamberg is a tempting place to linger, thanks to its unique atmosphere and history, hilly views, and distinctive Rauchbier (smoked beer).

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