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Places to visit in Aschaffenburg

Whatever the season, Aschaffenburg is always worth a visit, whether for the magnolia blossom in spring, for Pompeiianum Palace in summer, for Bavaria’s oldest English landscaped park in autumn, or for the works of Cranach, Grünewald, Kirchner and Schad in winter. And as Aschaffenburg is a compact town, you can easily discover its many sights on foot.

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Schloss Johannisburg ©W. Gulder

Johannisburg Palace

This red sandstone edifice is one of the most significant and beautiful Mannerist buildings in Germany. Its unique features include a chapel (complete with Renaissance altar, pulpit and portal sculptures by Hans Juncker), the royal living quarters, the world’s largest collection of architectural models made from cork, the state gallery with paintings by Lucas Cranach the Elder, and the Palace Museum of Aschaffenburg, which houses works of art and historical artefacts spanning six centuries.

Schlossgarten ©W. Gulder

Palace Park

Among the features of the park stretching between Johannisburg Palace and the Pompeiianum are a pergola-covered walkway over the medieval town wall, the neoclassical „breakfast temple“ and a landscaped section of the former town moat created by Friedrich Ludwig Sckell in the 18th century. The Pompeiianum is surrounded by a mediterranean-style garden that was laid out in the mid-19th century and contains fig trees, araucarias, almond trees, vines, Italian poplars and pines.

Pompejanum Aschaffenburg // BSV ©W. Gulder

The Pompeiianum

This replica of a Roman villa was built for King Ludwig I of Bavaria, who was inspired by the excavations in Pompeii, and it is the only one of its kind in the world. Architect Friedrich von Gärtner did not overlook a single detail in his design of the atrium and interior. The exquisite frescoes and floor mosaics, for example, give art lovers an idealised representation from which to broaden their understanding of classical culture. The Pompeiianum was badly damaged during the Second World War but reopened in 1994 following several phases of restoration. Since then it has also featured original Roman works of art from the holdings of the State Antiquities Collections and the Glyptothek in Munich.

Open again from the end of March!

Stiftsbasilika St. Peter und Alexander (Foto: Till Benzin)

Stiftsbasilika - Church of St Peter and Alexander

The church dates back to the days of Duke Liudolf of Swabia in the 10th century and is the only one in the world dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Alexander. In 982, Aschaffenburg – and its abbey – came under the control of the electorate of the archbishop of Mainz. The church and monastic college thrived, and the town established itself as the archbishops’ favourite residence. In 1821, the abbey became part of the Bishopric of Würzburg and on its millennial anniversary in 1958, Pope Pius XII made the church a papal basilica – the only one within the bishopric. The church features a wealth of exquisite historical works, including a 10th-century Ottonian crucifix, Grünewald’s Lamentation of Christ and Our Lady of the Snows altar, and a beautiful Romanesque cloister.


Stiftsmuseum - Treasury

The museum’s medieval treasure chamber houses an exquisite collection of goldsmith works and liturgical artefacts. Objects made from silver, rock crystal and gold are among the items on display here. The treasury of St Peter and Alexander comprises every type of ecclesiastical art and treasure from the Middle Ages, and includes fine examples of manuscript illuminations, textile crafts and panel paintings.

The focal point of the exhibition is the Altar of St Magdalene, a work from the studio of Lucas Cranach the Elder.

Kunsthalle Jesuitenkirche / Museen AB ©W. Gulder

Former Jesuit College

With its elaborate stucco work, the deconsecrated church of the Aschaffenburg Jesuits, built between 1619 and 1621 and badly damaged in the Second World War, provides a stunning backdrop for exhibitions of internationally acclaimed art. The exhibition programme changes four times a year.

to Jesuit Church Art Gallery Website

Aschaffenburger Altstadt ©D. Vasicek

Aschaffenburg old town

The route from Johannisburg Palace to the town hall is a maze of narrow alleys, where traditional bars and quaint restaurants alternate with pretty little half-timbered buildings.

Theaterplatz und Sonnenuhr ©W. Gulder

Theaterplatz - theatre square and sundial

With its olive trees, lemon trees and little oleander bushes, Theaterplatz square exudes a mediterranean charm that is heightened by the presence of one of Europe‘s largest sundials. From the raised terrace of the Stadtloggia building you can determine the local time from the shadow of the 6.4m „gnomon“ against the lines and arcs on the squares pale granite. The nearby information centre presents fascinating facts about astronomy and the sundial. The modern glass frontage on the other side of the square belongs to the municipal theatre that was originally built in 1811 but suffered heavy damage in the war. The theatre is home to one of Germany’s most beautiful neoclassical auditoriums. The sundial even has a unique night-time display, which is illuminated from 8.30pm to 1am.

Ruine im Schöntal ©W. Gulder

Schöntal Park

Schöntal started life as a game park before work began in 1777 to transform it into an English-style landscape garden. The old orangery in its eastern section is now home to the „Hofgarten Kabarett comedy theatre“, as well as two restaurants and a beer garden. A particularly romantic spot is the ruin of a Beguine convent church set in the middle of a small lake.

In springtime, the park’s main attraction is a magnolia grove with more than 40 magnolia trees, some of which are over a hundred years old.

Kirchnerhaus Museum ©Karl-Heinz Möhn

KirchnerHAUS Museum

The influential Expressionist painter Ernst Ludwig Kirchner was born on 6 May 1880, right by the train station in Aschaffenburg, which was on the border between Bavaria and Prussia in those days. As a small boy he drew pictures of trains, locomotives and street life – childhood drawings that he reproduced in woodblock prints as an adult. Kirchner attributed great significance to his early childhood experiences in Aschaffenburg and referenced them in his later works of art. The house where Kirchner was born, now known as the KirchnerHAUS Museum, survived the war virtually unscathed. In 2013, it became a documentation centre of Kirchner’s childhood and a venue for Kirchner-related exhibitions.

Museum jüdischer Geschichte und Kultur / Museen AB ©W. Gulder

Museum of Jewish History and Culture

Historical documents such as photographs and newspaper ads and articles illustrate the turbulent lives of the Jewish community in Aschaffenburg, which was one of the largest in Bavaria. Local events are used to shed light on more general political developments and their repercussions. The museum also highlights how deeply the Jewish residents influenced the town‘s economy and cultural life. The former Rabbi’s house, where the museum is located today, stood only a short distance from the synagogue that was built between 1891 and 1893 and destroyed in the „Night of Broken Glass“ of 1938, and in whose memory a grove of plane trees was planted in 1984. A short film, featuring a virtual reconstruction of the synagogue, tells of the building’s remarkable history.

Park Schönbusch Frühling ©W. Gulder

Schönbusch Palace and Park

The oldest of Bavaria’s English-style landscaped parks was established in 1775. Friedrich Ludwig Sckell gave Schönbusch Park its classical form, while Emanuel Joseph von Herigoyen, architect to the royal court, designed the various architectural features on the site. The neoclassical palace features a sweeping vista to Johannisburg Palace, while its rooms, with their Louis XVI inspired furnishings, provide an insight into regal domestic life at the end of the 18th century. Kleine Schönbuschallee, a 2.4km avenue of lime trees, connects the 150-hectare park with the town.

Teufelskanzel ©W. Gulder

Godelsberg hill

The Teufelskanzel, or Devil’s Pulpit, is a lookout point on Godelsberg hill that is accessible via a leisurely walk from the town centre through Fasanerie Park along Spessart Hills Trail no. 1. It offers panoramic views across Aschaffenburg, a loop in the river Main and the surrounding villages.