Skip to main content Skip to Search Box
Summary Article: Würzburg
from The Columbia Encyclopedia

(vürts'bʊrk), city (1994 pop. 128,875), capital of Lower Franconia, Bavaria, S central Germany, on the Main River. It is an industrial city, the center of a wine-producing region, and a rail and river transportation hub. Manufactures include machinery, electronics, clothing, and food. Brewing and publishing are also important.

Würzburg was originally a Celtic settlement and was made an episcopal see by St. Boniface in 741. After the breakup (10th cent.) of the duchy of Franconia, its bishops ruled a vast territory on both sides of the Main as princes of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1168 the bishops assumed the title of dukes of Eastern Franconia, of which they held a major part. During the Peasants' War the bishop of Würzburg temporarily lost (1524–25) his territory to the rebels, but he held out at his fortress of Marienberg against Götz von Berlichingen. Later, the splendor-loving prince-bishops transformed (17th–18th cent.) the city into one of the finest residences of Europe and founded (1582) the Univ. of Würzburg, where the anthropologist and pathologist Rudolf Virchow and the physicist Wilhelm Roentgen taught in the 19th cent.

Secularized after the Treaty of Lunéville (1801), Würzburg passed (1803) to Bavaria; was made (1805) a separate electorate in favor of Ferdinand, the dispossessed grand duke of Tuscany; and reverted (1815) to Bavaria. The city was severely damaged during World War II. Noteworthy landmarks include the baroque former episcopal residence (1720–44; designed by B. Neumann); the Romanesque cathedral (11th–13th cent.), containing works by the sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider; the Marienkapelle (1377–1479), a late Gothic chapel; the Old Main Bridge; and Marienberg fortress (the episcopal residence from the mid-13th to the 18th cent.).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2018

Related Articles


Full text Article Würzburg
Brewer's Dictionary of Irish Phrase and Fable

A city in Bavaria associated with the Irish saint, KILIAN , who evangelized the Thur-ingians and the Franconians in the second half of the 7th...

Full text Article Würzburg
The Macmillan Encyclopedia

49 48N 9 57E A city in SW Germany, in Bavaria on the River Main. The former episcopal residence (1720-44), containing frescoes by Tiepolo,...

Full text Article Würzburg
Philip's Encyclopedia

Capital of Lower Franconia, Bavaria, on the River Main, W central Germany. Made an episcopal see by St Boniface in 741, the city was secularized...

See more from Credo