The lively university and congress city of Würzburg, gateway to the Romantic Road, is dominated by its most prominent landmark, Fortress Marienberg. The origins of this fortress date back to around 1.000 b.C. when a celtic fortified refuge existed on this site. Since the foundation of the Würzburg bishopric in 742, Würzburg has been the religious centre of the region. Würzburg experienced its most prosperous period during the rule of the art-loving prince-bishops of the Schönborn family, for whom Balthasar Neumann built the "palace of palaces", the Würzburg Residence, from 1719 to 1744. The Venetian artist Tiepolo painted the vast fresco on the ceiling above the famous staircase, thereby creating the largest painting in the world. In 1981, on account of its outstanding architectural significance, the Residence was placed on the UNESCO list of cultural treasures of the world.
Further sights of Würzburg include St. Kilian's Cathedral and the adjacent Neumünster church with the romantic Lusam Garden, where the tombstone of the minstrel Walther von der Vogelweide is to be found. Also not to be missed are the late gothic Marienkapelle (Chapel of St Mary) overlooking the market square and the Mainfränkisches Museum with its outstanding collection of works by the Medieval sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider.
Another fine museum is the Museum am Dom, whose permanent exhibit centers on works of modern art by artists such as Joseph Beuys, Otto Dix, Ben Wilkens and Käthe Kollwitz in combination with works of historical artists. A restored, historical granary has been transformed into the award-winning Museum am Kulturspeicher which now displays various art collections, most notably a spectacular collection of European Concrete Art after 1945, featuring works by Max Bill and Victor Vasarely.
The extremely varied cultural events staged in Würzburg range from the unique Africa Festival (late May) and the world-famous Mozart Festival (June), to the cultural open-air festival Hafensommer (July/August) with concerts and movies, the Bach Festival, and the Jazz Festival (November). Sports events like the Würzburg Marathon fascinate thousands of people every year. Theatres and cabarets, and even vineyard estates all make their special contributions to the cultural life of the city. Many restaurants, pubs and wine festivals provide visitors with ample opportunities to enjoy Franconian cuisine and the excellent local Franconian wines. Sports enthusiasts enjoy a huge number of biking and hiking trails as well as a golf course.