Coburg in Upper Franconia often falls under the radar when people make their list of all the magical Bavarian places they want to visit. The charming city is only 110 kilometres (68 miles) north of Nuremberg and lures with historical sites, imposing palaces and a charming old town. We made a list of the top 10 things to do and see during your visit.
Perched up a hill overlooking the city centre sits Veste-Coburg, an 11th-century medieval fortress. For whatever reason, the fortification sees comparatively few visitors, even though it’s considered one of the best preserved and largest castles and forts in the entire country. The rooms hold an intriguing collection of hunting devices, weapons and armoury, as well as notable artworks by Dürer, Rembrandt and other world-renowned painters.
Ehrenburg Castle is one of Coburg’s not-to-miss attraction. Once built as the residence of the Coburg dukes, the grand palace also played a part in shaping the British Royal Family – Prince Albert, the man who went on to marry Queen Victoria in 1840, spent much of his childhood here. A guided tour takes you around 25 of the pompously decorated rooms, including the throne room, which has been kept in its original state all these years and boasts stucco ornaments and velvety wall panels. The true highlight of each visit is the beautiful Hall of Giants which features 28 Atlas statues which seemingly hold up the ceiling.
Coburg’s oldest Protestant church dates back to the 14th century, and parts of the original structure can still be seen today. Martin Luther, the initiator of the 16th-century Protestant Reformation, gave a number of sermons here when he lived in Coburg in 1530. Sadly, many of the medieval features that once decorated the interior were lost over time, but the 13-metre-high (42 feet) Renaissance alabaster epitaph for Duke Johann Friedrich II is worth having a look at.
Coburg’s picturesque market square pinpoints the centre of the old town and is a popular gathering place for both locals and tourists. Most of the cobbled alleys end up at the plaza, which is encircled by pastel-coloured townhouses and the impressive City Hall building on the southern end of the market square. Every Saturday, locals do bits of their shopping at the weekly farmer’s market here and in December the Christmas market transforms the plaza into an enchanting winter wonderland.
The vast parklands of Coburg’s Hofgarten stretch all the way from the inner-city castle square and the Veste Coburg fortress, encompassing a whopping 30 hectares. Several pavilions, fountains, memorials and a rose garden are dotted around the lush meadows which are the locals’ favourite hide-out from the city-centre buzz. If the sun’s out, the park is the perfect spot for an afternoon stroll.
Prince Albert, who eventually married Queen Victoria, was born in this charming palace just outside of Coburg. A quick drive or train ride takes you to the 15th-century Ducal mansion which opened its doors to the public in 1990 as a museum. After years of meticulous restoration, a guided tour now takes visitors around the bedroom chambers, marble hall and other rooms which are largely equipped with furniture from the Biedermeier period.
This might come as a bit of a surprise, but Coburg is the annual host of the world’s largest samba festival outside of Rio. In true Brazilian Carnival fashion, more than 3.000 show acts, artists and musicians from across the world transform the placid Bavarian city into an explosive celebration of life every July. The programme ranges from dance and musical performances to workshops and Sunday’s colourful parade around the city centre.
Fans of opera, ballet and drama theatre should see if they can get tickets to one of the performances at the Landestheater in Coburg’s old town, across from Ehrenburg Palace. After the ducal family had hosted theatrical performances over centuries and temporary stages had been established, the permanent Neoclassical building opened its doors in 1840.
The city’s most unique and old-fashioned museum is entirely dedicated to dolls. The 33 rooms of the Puppenmuseum house a collection of more than 2.000 dolls and kinds of accessories from clothing, dollhouses and toys. The exhibition is split into four sections and explores the role toys played in children’s education in the 19th century and showcases dolls developed over time.
A trip to Coburg wouldn’t be complete if you didn’t try some of the delicious Franconian specialities that the region has to offer. Gasthaus Goldenes Kreuz is situated in one of the oldest buildings in the city and charms guests with a rustic interior and traditional food which is spiced up with modern influences. The menu lists all kinds of culinary goodies, including sausages, roast beef and potato dumplings. While you’re at it, wash down your hearty meal with their in-house Kreuztrunk beer.