Bayreuth

Richard Wagner's Festival Theater (Festspielhaus) in Bayreuth

For the city in Lebanon, see Beirut.

The festival city of Bayreuth in Upper Franconia (Oberfranken) is relatively quiet most of the year until the Richard Wagner Festival settles in for 30 days every summer. Bayreuth features a wealth of impressive baroque and rococo architecture, as well as freshly-brewed Franconian beer in the local Biergartens. Although the city remains fairly tame compared to the much larger cities in Germany, the presence of almost 10,000 students at the University of Bayreuth means an active nightlife is not difficult to find.

Understand

History

The town of Bayreuth first emerged during the Middle Ages, with a typical Bavarian street market in the center of town. In its early history, Bayreuth was only a small village in the Hohenzollern Empire and suffered many plagues and wars. The town was completely destroyed during the Hussite war in 1430, suffered major plagues even until 1602, and incurred major damage by fires in 1605 and 1621. Margrave Christian from Kulmbach moved his residence here in 1603, and after the Thirty Years' War the town began to develop as a more important city with more distinct baroque architecture. When Margrave Friedrich married Wilhelmine, the sister of King Frederick II of Prussia, Bayreuth began to develop its current appearance.

Margravine Wilhelmine was an active lover of the arts and architecture. She commissioned famous Italian architects to design the Margravial Operahouse, which was the largest in Germany for over a century. It still stands today as one of the most ornate baroque opera houses in the world. In addition, Wilhelmine expanded the Margrave's summer residence and gardens and commissioned the architecturally impressive New Palace. During the reign of Friedrich and Wilhelmine, the arts flourished in Bayreuth. The magnificent opera house even attracted Richard Wagner to Bayreuth in 1872 until his death 11 years later. Since then the city has had an integral relationship with Richard Wagner. The Richard Wagner Festival started in 1876 to commemorate and perform the works of the famous composer. During the Nazi rule, Hilter considered Bayreuth one of the most important cultural centers in Germany, and as such, Bayreuth was heavily bombed during World War II. In the last half century, Bayreuth has rebuilt, continued the Richard Wagner Festival and grown quietly, mostly around the University, which was established in 1975.

Orientation

Bayreuth is famous in Germany as the host of the Richard Wagner Festival (Festspiele) each year from July to August. In that respect, most of the tourist industry has evolved around the life and times of Richard Wagner as well as Margravine Wilhelmine, one of the major contributors in bringing the arts to Bayreuth. For most of the year, Bayreuth is quiet, somewhat out of the way of the major tourist itineraries. However, during the Festspiele, the town fills to capacity; hotels are nearly impossible to book and the traffic almost slows to a stop. Winter is normally overcast and wet, with temperatures not deviating too far from freezing. The springtime can be relatively cool, but the weather slowly becomes more pleasant and is welcomed by numerous street fairs and festivals (See Events). Summer is also pleasant, punctuated by occasional hot days. During the warmer seasons, outdoor cafes and Biergartens abound in the cobblestoned city center.

The Tourist Information office provides lots of very detailed information. They are located at Luitpoldplatz 9, between the city center and the train station (office hours M-F 9AM-6PM & Sa 9:30AM-1PM yearlong, also Su 10AM-2PM May - Oct). The offer a two-hour city tour (in German) daily at 10:30AM (only Saturdays from Nov-Apr) for €5.50. The meeting point is the TI office. For visiting the sights and taking the buses, they offer the Bayreuth Card, which provides three days of free bus travel, the city tour, and entry to 9 different museums (11.50 €, available at the TI, at many attractions, and at some hotels). Combination tickets are also available for the Margravial Operahouse and New Palace for €8, and the Kombikarte Bayreuth allows entry to any three city museums for €10. The TI office also provides city maps and city/regional maps for bicyclists.

Get in

By train

The Hauptbahnhof (main train station)

Frequent train services connect Bayreuth to other regions of Franconia and Northern Bavaria. However many long distance services have either been discontinued or rerouted to other stations in recent years. Bayreuth is part of the VGN network and within that region bus and train day tickets covering large areas are relatively inexpensive to get you to and from say Nürnberg you would have to pay only 18€ for a group of up to 2 adults and 4 kids (under 18 years old). The Bayern ticket is also a cheap option for groups up to five (no age restrictions) starting at 23€ for one person and 3€ for every additional one. Regular services exist seven days a week to and from

The Hauptbahnhof (main train station) is located approximately 1 km north of the city center, easily accessed by foot. Several buses also run from the train station to the central bus station (named ZOH in Bayreuth not ZOB as in most other places in Germany) in the town center (Lines 2, 3, 5, 8, 9, and 13).

On foot

The central bus station (ZOH) is where all local bus routes meet

Several hiking trails go through Bayreuth. Some of them themed around a special topic (eg. Jean Paul, a local author or a beer-themed trail)

By car

Bayreuth is easily accessible on the autobahn A9, approximately 70 km north of Nuremberg and 40 km south of Hof.

By plane

The nearest airport with regular commercial service is in Nuremberg. Many international flights arrive in Germany via Frankfurt or Munich, however. The nearby Airport Bayreuth is available for private planes or to charter planes.

By bus

Several companies serve domestic long distance lines to and from Bayreuth. If you are traveling in a group and your destination or point of departure is within the Bundesland of Bavaria taking the "Bayern-Ticket" may well work out cheaper than the bus.

Get around

Detail of Bayreuth's city centre

The bus network around Bayreuth provides extensive coverage of the city and surrounding areas, with most buses running in 20-minute intervals. The central bus station (Zentrale Omnibus Haltestelle, ZOH) is located one block north of Maximilianstrasse near the city hall (Rathaus). As Bayreuth is a member of the VGN tariff union schedules and rates are available at their website. Day passes (Tageskarte) are available.

Compared to larger cities, Bayreuth is relatively easy to tackle by car. The pedestrian-only area in the center of town is confined to a few streets, and parking garages are easy to find.

Biking is easy and convenient in Bayreuth. Many scenic bike paths radiate from Bayreuth into the surrounding areas.

Most sights of interest are easily reached by foot within the city. Exceptions to this are the Festspielhaus and the Eremitage, both of which are easily accessed by bus or bike.

See

Attractions

Most attractions in Bayreuth hail from the residence of Margravine Wilhelmine and her husband Margrave Friedrich. A diligent supporter of the arts and culture, Wilhelmine brought Italian architects and French builders to construct many of the town's historical landmarks. As such, much of the architecture reflects heavy baroque and rococo influences. With its wide pedestrian streets, the city center is easy to stroll, and provides a pleasant contrast to many other Bavarian towns loaded with medieval architecture. During the summer many cafes and ice cream parlors set up outdoor seating on the main shopping streets, Maximilianstrasse, Sophienstrasse, and Von-Römer-Strasse. The attractions below can easily be combined with cheaper combination tickets. A ticket to the Margravial Operahouse and New Palace are available for €8. In addition, a ticket to visit any three attractions (Kombikarte Bayreuth) is available for €10, either from the ticket office or the tourist information.

Bayreuth's Operahouse

Churches

Spitalkirche

Museums

For a town of its size, Bayreuth is rich in museums; over two dozen can be found in and around the city. Noteworthy among the many are the Richard Wagner Museum and Franz-Liszt-Museum, documenting the lives of these prominent German and Hungarian composers, the Guinness Book of World Records recognized Maisel's Brewery and Cooper's Museum, as well as the museums located in the New Palace: Bayreuther Faiences - The Rummel Collection, The State Galleries and Margravine Wilhelmine's Bayreuth. Every fall the museums offer a Bayreuth Museum Night (Bayreuther Museumsnacht). On this night, a single ticket allows entry to every museum in the city from 8PM until 2AM. (Typically either late October or early November, see Tourist Information or the website (German only) for more precise information)

Parks

Do

Drink some of the local wheat beer - Hefeweizen - it is perhaps the best sipping beer in the world.

When traveling in summer, make sure not to miss the beautiful Theta beergarden. It is in the hills above Bayreuth and it's hard to get there. But even taking a taxi would be worth it. For active people it is possible to do a very nice hike here from the Festspielhaus. This would also give you the opportunity to climb the old Siegesturm (= victory tower), which provides a scenic view over (almost) the whole city (free, closed in winter).

Catch a movie at the 7-screen Cineplex at the Rotmain-Center (see the Buy section).

Cool off in the Kreuzsteinbad public swimming pool (Universitätsstr. at Frankengutstr., take bus #6) or warm up at the Lohengrin Thermal Baths (take bus #3) outside of town.

Nightlife is not the thing Bayreuth is famous for. A really good place for concerts and parties is the Glashaus on the university campus, while a few good pubs can be found near the city center.

Events

Bayreuth is home to the Richard Wagner Festival for 30 days every year in July and August, when his operas are performed at the Festspielhaus. During the festival, huge crowds flock to Bayreuth for a chance to see the performances. It is estimated that the waiting time for tickets is between five and ten years. For inquiries, contact the Tourist Information office for ideas on the best ways to obtain tickets. Sometimes (with a little luck), last minute tickets can become available.

Maisel's brewery also hosts a Wheat Beer Festival every year in either April or May. (More information on the dates can be found through the Tourist Information or at Maisel's website. The festival usually extends over a long weekend (Thursday - Sunday) and features various bands and festivities each day. Entrance is normally always free. A Fun Run and kids programs are also offered.

Learn

The young University of Bayreuth was established in 1975 and currently has an enrollment approaching 10,000 students. More information can be found here.

Buy

The city center (especially Maximilianstrasse) has no lack of smaller shops as well as some larger stores. Slightly west of the center is the Rotmain-Center, a large shopping center with many options. The center is easily reached on foot and is targeted towards families.

There is also a souvenir shop run by the tourist information office near the center (Bayreuth Shop, Kanzleistraße 6,  +49 9 21 1507797, e-mail: . M-F 10AM-6PM Sa 10AM-2PM. Note: It is not located at the TI Office).

Eat

The traditional pair of Bayreuther Bratwürste in a bread roll, as sold around the city center.

Bayreuth's status as a university city means that a wide variety of restaurants populate the city, including typical Franconian Wirtshäuser, pizza parlors and Asian cuisine (including specifically Chinese, Japanese, and Thai), as well as the normal fast food fare in the train station and along the pedestrian streets. Small food stands (Imbiss) dot the pedestrian areas and offer quick hot meals for those in a rush (the traditional Franconian choice would be a pair of Bayreuther Bratwürste). If you're looking for halal food, the numerous Döner places around the city centre are your safest bet. Most of the hotels listed below also have an attached restaurant or Biergarten, open for anyone to visit. Listed below is a small sampling of the restaurants in Bayreuth. For more options, ask around or just take a stroll through the city.

Drink

Sleep

Bayreuth's sleeping options are relatively reasonable in price and quality. Be warned, during the Richard Wagner Festival prices can go through the roof. The Tourist Information can help you locate many other smaller guest houses in and around Bayreuth. (Organized by price in each category)

Youth Hostel

Hotels in the City

Hotels Outside the City Center

Go next

Take a trip to the nearby tiny town of Aufsess, which the Guinness Book of World Records recognizes as the town with the most breweries per capita! There's even a beer trail that you can hike with stops at all the local biergartens.

Visit Bamberg to see the medieval town and try the local smoked beer (Rauchbier).

Take an adventure in the Franconian Switzerland (Fränkische Schweiz) and experience the beautiful local flora, fauna, and scenery. possible activities include hiking, mountain-climbing and canoeing.

Nuremberg is also nearby, and an easy, exciting day trip.

Routes through Bayreuth

Berlin Leipzig  N  S  Nuremberg Munich
Merges into Bamberg  W  E  Kulmbach Merges into


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, August 17, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.