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Würzburg, Germany

Würzburg, Germany (Known places)

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Würzburg is a city in the region of Franconia which lies in the northern tip of Bavaria, Germany. Located on the Main River, it is the capital of the Regierungsbezirk Lower Franconia. The regional dialect is Franconian.

Würzburg is approximately 120 kilometres (75 mi) from either Frankfurt or Nuremberg by road. The city of Würzburg is not included in the district of Würzburg, but is its administrative seat. Its population is 131,320 as of dec. 31, 2006 (13 years ago).

History

By 1000 BC a Celtic fortification stood on the site of the present Fortress Marienberg. It was Christianized in 686 by Irish missionaries Kilian, Colman and Totnan. The city is first mentioned as Vurteburch in 704. The first diocese was founded by Saint Boniface in 742. 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 (839 years ago), in which Henry the Lion was banned from the Empire and his duchy was handed over to Otto of Wittelsbach.

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 (979 years ago) to 1225 (794 years ago) in Romanesque style. The University of Würzburg was founded in 1402 (617 years ago) and re-founded in 1582 (437 years ago).

The citizens of the city revolted several times against the prince-bishop, until definitively defeated in 1400 (619 years ago). Later, Würzburg was a center of the German Peasants' War; the castle was besieged unsuccessfully. Notable prince-bishops include Julius Echter von Mespelbrunn (1573–1617) and members of the Schönborn family, who commissioned a great number of the monuments of today's city. In 1631 (388 years ago), Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus invaded the town and destroyed the castle.

In 1720 (299 years ago), the foundations of the Würzburg Residence were laid. The city passed to the Electorate of Bavaria in 1803 (216 years ago), 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 (205 years ago), 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 (216 years ago).

Massacres of Jews took place in 1147 (872 years ago) and 1298 (721 years ago) and expulsions throughout the Middle Ages. In the period of Nazi rule, almost the whole Jewish and Gypsy population of the city was wiped out.

During World War II, on Mar. 16, 1945 (74 years ago), about 90% of the city was destroyed by some 225 Lancaster bombers in 17 minutes by a British air raid. Most of the city's churches, cathedrals, and other monuments did not survive, while the city center, dating from medieval times, was totally destroyed in a firestorm in which some 5,000 people perished. During the next 20 years, the buildings of historical importance were painstakingly and accurately replicated. The citizens who rebuilt the city immediately after the end of the war were mostly women (Trümmerfrauen = Rubblewomen). Men were either dead or POW. Relatively, Würzburg was destroyed more completely than was Dresden in a firebombing the previous month.

Since the end of the war, Würzburg has been host to the US Army's 3rd Infantry Division, 1st Infantry Division, US Army Hospital and various other US military units who have maintained a presence in Germany. The local Würzburg economy benefited greatly from the US military presence. However, these units are due to withdraw from Würzburg by 2008 (11 years ago) which brings an end to over 60 years of US military presence in Würzburg.


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