Würzburg (; Main-Franconian: Wörtzburch) is a city in the region of Franconia, Northern Bavaria, Germany. Located on the Main River, it is the capital of the Regierungsbezirk Lower Franconia. The regional dialect is Franconian.
Würzburg lies at about equal distance (120 kilometer, or 75 miles) between Frankfurt am Main and Nuremberg. Although the city of Würzburg is not part of the Landkreis Würzburg, (i.e. the county or district of Würzburg), it is the seat of the district's administration. The city's population was 124,698 as of 31 December 2013.
Historic population figures for Würzburg
Early and medieval history
A Bronze Age (Urnfield culture) refuge castle stood on the site of the present Fortress Marienberg. The former Celtic territory was settled by the Alamanni in the 4th or 5th century, and by the Franks in the 6th to 7th. Würzburg was the seat of a Merovingian duke from about 650. It was Christianized in 686 by Irish missionaries Kilian, Kolonat and Totnan. The city is mentioned in a donation by Duke Hedan II to bishop Willibrord, dated 1 May 704, in castellum Virteburch. The Ravenna Cosmography lists the city as Uburzis at about the same time. The name is presumably of Celtic origin, but based on a folk etymological connection to the German word "herb, spice", the name was Latinized as Herbipolis in the medieval period.
Beginning in 1237, the city seal depicted the cathedral and a portrait of Saint Kilian, with the inscription SIGILLVM CIVITATIS HERBIPOLENSIS. It shows a banner on a tilted lance, formerly in a blue field, with the banner quarterly argent and gules (1532), later or and gules (1550). This coat of arms replaced the older seal of the city, showing Saint Kilian, from 1570.
The first diocese was founded by Saint Boniface in 742 when he appointed the first bishop of Würzburg, Saint Burkhard. The bishops eventually created a duchy with its center in the city, which extended in the 12th century to Eastern Franconia. The city was the seat of several Imperial Diets, including the one of 1180, in which Henry the Lion was banned from the Empire and his duchy was handed over to Otto of Wittelsbach. Massacres of Jews took place in 1147 and 1298.
The first church on the site of the present Würzburg Cathedral was built as early as 788, and consecrated that same year by Charlemagne; the current building was constructed from 1040 to 1225 in Romanesque style. The University of Würzburg was founded in 1402 and re-founded in 1582. The citizens of the city revolted several times against the prince-bishop, until decisively defeated in 1400.
The Würzburg witch trials, which occurred between 1626 and 1631, are one of the largest peace-time mass trials. In Würzburg, under Bishop Philip Adolf an estimated number between 600 and 900 alleged witches were burnt. In 1631, Swedish King Gustaf Adolf invaded the town and destroyed the castle.
In 1720, the foundations of the Würzburg Residence were laid. The city passed to the Electorate of Bavaria in 1803, but two years later, in the course of the Napoleonic Wars, it became the seat of the Electorate of Würzburg, the later Grand Duchy of Würzburg. In 1814, the town became part of the Kingdom of Bavaria and a new bishopric was created seven years later, as the former one had been secularized in 1803 (see also Reichsdeputationshauptschluss).
On the eve of the Nazis' rise to power 2,000 Jews lived in Würzburg, it was a community of tradesmen and professionals. Würzburg was a rabbinic center and home to many Jewish communal organisations and the Jewish Teachers Seminary. In November 1941, the first Jews from Würzburg were sent to the Nazi concentration camps in Eastern Europe. The final transport departed in June 1943. Few survived.
On 16 March 1945, about 90% of the city full of civilians (and military hospitals) was destroyed in 17 minutes by 225 British Lancaster bombers during a World War II air raid. All of the city's churches, cathedrals, and other monuments were heavily damaged or destroyed. The city center, which mostly dated from medieval times, was totally destroyed in a firestorm in which 5,000 people perished.
Over the next 20 years, the buildings of historical importance were painstakingly and accurately reconstructed. The citizens who rebuilt the city immediately after the end of the war were mostly women – Trümmerfrauen ("rubble women") – because the men were either dead or still prisoners of war. On a relative scale, Würzburg was destroyed to a larger extent than was Dresden in a firebombing the previous month.
On 3 April 1945, Würzburg was attacked by the US 12th Armored Division and US 42nd Infantry Division in a series of frontal assaults masked by smokescreens. The battle continued until the final German resistance was defeated on 5 April 1945.
Historic Buildings in Würzburg