Tauberbischofsheim, Germany

The name Tauberbischofsheim tells us about the town – it is the home of the bishop on the Tauber river.  Today it has around 8,500 inhabitants and thanks to its preserved old architecture, scenic views along the river and its connection to gastronomy is a popular tourist destination being located on the Romantic Road and Siegfriedstrasse.

In this video I shall tell you a little bit about the history of the town, my visit and what can be seen today!

I arrived by motorhome and left my vehicle in the free stellplatz which is located next to the swimming baths.  For those arriving by car, the town is surrounded by large free car parks.  My visit took place in June, which also is the wettest month and although on the first day it looked as though it were going to pour down, it did not and on day two I enjoyed brilliant sunny weather!

Near Tauberbischofsheim there is a European bird sanctuary, a conservation area, three nature reserves and two forest reserves.  The river Tauber and its tributaries have created the landscape.  The shell limestone soils are partially covered by loess which is good for agriculture and the region is particularly known for fruit and viticulture.

The area has been settled for at least five thousand years and we can today see prehistoric finds in the landscape museum in the Kurmainzischen castle of Tauberbischofsheim.

The city was first mentioned in 836 in the biography of Saint Lioba using a name similar to that we have today although the monastery the bishop came from dates to 100 years earlier.  Alongside the monastery, one of the first German nunneries was also founded which became a major educational and cultural centre for the entire lower Main Valley.

The market rights were received on or before 1147 and the trade was thriving when Frederick Barbarossa visited in 1165.  In 1180, the Peterskapelle was built which is today the oldest building in the city.

The award of city rights was given in 1237 by Emperor Frederick II and remained until 1803.  Construction of the city walls began around 1275, some of which can be seen today near the city castle and the Hunger Tower. 

From 1346 to 1527 Tauberbischofsheim was part of a league of local cities which included Amorbach, Aschaffenburg, Buchen, Dieburg, Külsheim, Miltenberg, Seligenstadt and Walldürn.  This was called  the Neunstädtebund and led to them each forming self-government and mutual assistant in times of conflict against the sovereign, the Archbishop of Mainz, and the Mainz cathedral chapter. These cities emancipated themselves in the course of the 15th century in ways such as the right of tax collection and increased powers.

In the Peasants' War of 1525, towns in the area of Tauberbischofsheim found themselves, partially through force, on the side of the rebellious peasants.  When the peasants were defeated, the archbishops once more gained total control over the towns that had made up the Neunstädtebund.

Like many towns it suffered during the Thirty Years War and from 1631 to 1635 was under Swedish occupation. However after the war it recovered, the St. Lioba Church was built as a monastery church by the Franciscansin 1657.  The following year the first chemist (Amtsapotheke) was opened. In 1688 a school was established by the Franciscans, the predecessor of today’s Matthias Grünewald Gymnasium Tauberbischofsheim.

Until 1850 the town was known as Bischofsheim, however in order to better distinguish it from other cities thus called, the name of the river was added and Tauberbischofsheim was born.

In 1803 under Napoleon the Holy Roman Empire was finally dissolved and in 1806 the city became part of the Grand Duchy of Baden.  The new town hall was built from 1865 – 1867 and in 1866 following the Prussian victories at nearby battles, the city became part of the German Confederation. A monument on Albert Schweitzer Street commemorates the fallen.

The railway came in 1867 which in turn led to development. Water supply became assured with the construction of an aqueduct in 1896, in 1900 electrical lighting was introduced.  The buildings of the town did not suffer too much as a result of the Nazi rule and the second world war although not so the population.  Jewish inhabitants were rounded up by SA thugs on 3 September 1939 and forced to wear signs saying "Wir sind die Kriegshetzer" (We are the warmongers.) They were forced to run to the Tauberbischofsheim synagogue, where they were humiliated.  They had to kneel and kiss the ground. Then they were forced to rush into the nearby stream. The 15 Jewish families were detained for weeks in the town hall. A commemorative plaque was erected in the foyer of the town hall in 1981 which commemorates the 35 Jewish citizens who were murdered in the Shoah. The Jewish population had existed since the early thirteenth century although pogroms had occurred in 1235, 1298, 1336-1339 and 1348-49. From the 17th century, the number of Jews in Tauberbischofsheim increased.  There was a synagogue, a school, a ritual bath and a cemetery and the work of ritual slaughterer and religious teacher was performed by the rabbi.  In 1933 there were 106 Jewish people in the city, this ancient community was destroyed by the Nazis with those that did not emigrate or escape being deported to the Gurs concentration camp on 22 October 1940.  Whereas there is no longer a Jewish community, there are however a number of sites of Jewish interest in the area which the tourist can visit.

After the Second World War Tauberbischofsheim was occupied by American troops. In 1955, the 1200th anniversary of Tauberbischofsheim was celebrated. In 1972 Tauberbischofsheim received a motorway connection to the A 81. In 1970 the "Tauberfränkische landscape museum" was opened in the Kurmainzischen castle. In the year 1983 the Tauberbischofsheimer Christmas market was organized for the first time on the market place. Since 1995, the Christmas market takes place on the Schlossplatz and in the castle cellar at the Kurmainz castle .

Tauberbischofsheim is great for cyclists and hikers, it is located on Taubertalradweg, a 101 kilometer long cycle path which runs through the valley of the Tauber in its entire length and is relatively flat. One can also follow the Odenwald-Madonnen-Weg which begins in Tauberbischofsheim and takes one to Königheim, Walldürn, the Neckar valley at Eberbach and Heidelberg to the Rhine.  Those on foot might like to see the educational wine tour! 

There are a number of museums including a pharmacy museum in the former pharmacy on Sonnenplatz, a farm Museum, two village museums, a school museum and the Tauberfränkisches Landscape Museum in the Kurmainz castle

The old town, which was formerly surrounded by a city wall, houses the castle and numerous renaissance houses. The marketplace is surrounded by the town hall and several half-timbered houses. The Tauberbischofsheimer Rathaus is one of the few in southern Germany, which were built in neo-Gothic style. 

One of the most attractive old buildings is the Hunger Tower which is today located next to the Mühl kanal.  Near the Hungry Tower is the Kurmainz Castle with the Tower of the Turks, another tower of the former city fortifications.  It was probably built at the beginning of the late Middle Ages as part of the city wall and the name suggests it was used as a prison.  As with many other towns, the approximately ten meter high city wall and up to 20 towers were removed with urban development, this tower alongside small part of the city wall survived.  It is today protected.

As mentioned it is noted for its fruit and wine such as regional cider and apple juice and local food specialities include Tauber trout, Boeuf de Hohenlohe, various pork and lamb dishes and of course spelt which is very much associated with the region!