Buildings and Monuments
The water gateway designated “Stadtbrille” in the vernacular, which, at 46 meters in length, spans the Vils, is first attested in 1454 as the “passageway over the Vils.” At that time it was a single-story structure with towers over both central pillars. In the course of a renovation that took place in 1580 under the leadership of the Trier court architect Hans Hauck, the left and right arches of the water gateway were increased by one story, the middle arch by two stories, “crowned” by two towers. With the removal of the two towers and of the third story above the middle bay as well as an accompanying integrated roof in 1698, the structure gained its present-day appearance, apart from the western arch, which was filled in before 1600 and reopened some years ago.
The eastern and northern wings of the structure were built under Elector Philipp in 1502. An electoral armorer is first attested in 1512. The building of the southern wing, which was completed in 1607, was carried out during the governorship of Prince Christian von Anhalt and with the participation of the palatinate architect Johann Schoch. As early as 1743 the armory was no longer in use, and in 1778 it was finally closed. In the following period, different uses necessitated alterations to the building. The most substantial was the installation of stables for the horses of the cavalry. It was heavily damaged by a major fire in 1945. Since 1989 it has served as an administrative building of the Amberg-Sulzbach district, and in 1994 a comprehensive renovation was completed.
Because by the beginning of the fifteenth century the palace on the Vils no longer satisfied the requirements of the electors, Elector Ludwig III (1410-1436) had a new palace constructed beginning in 1417. During the regency of a governor and the commensurate holding of court the castle-like structure built under Elector Friedrich I held the status of a royal seat. In 1474, the "great bower," the present-day main building of the palace, built subsequent to the existing building, was unveiled on the occasion of the "Amberg Wedding." The governor Ludwig Count of Holnstein (1723-1780) established his residence here. In 1768 he had the "front bower," the oldest part of the palace, torn down in order to create a baroque garden. The palace finally fulfilled its function as a residence when Prince Max IV Joseph, the later king, came to Amberg in 1800 fleeing from French troops. Today the structure serves as the administrative building for the district office of Amberg-Sulzbach.
After the transfer of Amberg and the Upper Palatinate to the palatinate princes the still-existing front stone house today given the name "Klösterl" and the rear stone house on the Vils, torn down in the eighteenth century, were built in order to expand the existing rulers' house. The first contained the electoral chapel and the council chamber. After the completion of the new palace in 1420 the estate, now ranking as a free house, was given out as a knightly fief. The purchase of the estate by the Order of the Poor School Sisters in 1838 gave it the name "Klösterl," which it holds even up to the present day. In 1852 the city of Amberg acquired it, in order to establish the "Maximilian Rescue Institute" for socially-impaired children in it. After its dissolution in 1936 the building functioned as a school house and museum. Since 2006 the Luftmuseum (Art-Architecture-Design-Technology) has been housed here.
The oldest villa in Amberg is known as the "Alte Veste." Whether its beginnings reach back in the Bamberg era is unclear, but it already existed when Amberg was handed over to the Wittelsbach Duke Ludwig II of Bavaria in 1269 and also functioned as a residence as well as the seat of the vicegovernor during the Electoral Palatinate period until the completion of the new palace in 1420. The estate, which is named as an oak forest from the fifteenth through the eighteenth centuries, was given out as a knightly fief, after it became dispensable for governance and administrative purposes.
The matrimonial coat of arms over the entryway testifies to the conversion of the estate to a noble city palace after 1784. The owner was Baron Ludwig von Egcker, who was married to a daughter of the governor Franz Ludwig Count of Holnstein. It was in the hands of aristocratic owners until the beginning of the twentieth century. After a comprehensive renovation it was obtained by the leadership of Stadtbau Amberg GmbH.
Electoral Government Office
To separate his holding of court and his administration Prince Friedrich II built the electoral government office from 1544 to 1547, allowing for the introduction of the Renaissance to Amberg. The three-story gabled house was done in sandstone blocks. On the splendid bay that jumps out over the main entrance of the eastern long side rest the the portraits of Prince Friedrich II, his wife Dorothea, and the fathers of the electoral pair as well as the coat of arms of the Electoral Palatinate and of the Kingdom of Denmark. The building, which was joined to a polygonal stair tower in 1601 during the court of Prince Friedrich IV, was completed by an extension in the second half of the eighteenth century. Today the building houses the district court.
Church of Our Lady
Amberg's Church of Our Lady is heavily interwoven with the history of the late medieval Jewish community. After the expulsion of the Jews, which must have occurred between February 1390 and February 1391, a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary was built in Amberg on the site of the synagogue, as was also done in Heidelberg. This is first mentioned in writing when a citizen of Amberg led an extensive mass from an altar in the Church of Our Lady in 1398, enjoying the particular support of King Ruprecht. After the church called the "court chapel" in the time of the Calvinists had been degraded to a horse stable, it was restored by the Jesuits. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the small hall church with three naves functioned as the "house chapel" for various orders.
In 1772 the government lawyer Johann Kaspar Wolf purchased the property from electoral treasurer Franz Gustav Freiherr von Gobel auf Hofgiebing and had it redone in the rococo style. Its present-day name is the product of book trader Josef Fenzl, into whose possession it came in 1908.
Although by 1630/31 an entire row of houses in the direct vicinity of the Church of St. George had already been torn down to make way for the building of the college, as a result of the Thirty Years' War the Jesuits did not begin building it until 1665, and it was completed in 1669. From 1672 to 1674 the secondary school followed, and the congregational hall tract from 1674 to 1678. After the abolition of the Jesuit order in 1773 the complex came to the Bavarian arm of the Maltese order from 1782 until its secularization in 1808.
The congregation hall and the library number among the features of the 160 meter-long structure. The first was equipped with a coffered ceiling designed by the Jesuit brother Johannes Hörmann and wall paintings by the Munich court painter Johann Kaspar Sing. The splendid vaulted library with a mirrored ceiling once contained the book collection of the Jesuits. Since 1826 the books of the secularized upper palatinate monastery have been accommodated in the provincial library that was built in this spot.
The Romanesque structure of the parish church of Amberg first mentioned in writing in 1094, the outer appearance of which is today captured in the Amberg town seal, was replaced when the building of the gothic basilica was begun in 1359, which, with the exception of the tower, was completed at the beginning of the fifteenth century. With the transfer of St. George to the Jesuits in 1629 as a college church the parish rights were assumed by St. Martin's. After Prince Maximilian I had refused to tear down the church, it was redone in a baroque style in the following period. In 1652 it was designed in "exquisite white" by the Italian architect Francesco Garbanini, after 1718 it was completely stuccoed and done with twelve ornamental sculptures of the apostles by Johann Baptist Zimmermann. After the suspension of the Jesuit order in 1773 the church came to the Maltese order until its secularization in 1808, and in 1923 it became a parish church again.
This small house got its name from a legend that has a very sober background and which the Amberg artist Wilhelm Manfred Raumberger painted on its entrance doors. According to this legend, a couple wishing to marry had to have a house and land in the city in order to gain the consent of the city magistrate of Amberg. When a resourceful bridegroom discovered a courtyard in the seminary lane between two properties, he acquired it, built walls in front of it and in the rear, and placed a roof over it. Thus, the rule was formally served. According to the legend, in the following period the owner of the "Eh'häusl" changed rapidly, facilitating the marriage of many couples. Today it houses a luxury hotel for two people.
The oldest fortification, which can still be seen on the left side of the Vils in the hospital trench, is likely to reach back into the twelfth century. In 1326 construction began on the late medieval city fortification, which enclosed the George suburb and the hospital in a ring of walls. Thus the distinctive oval form, lovingly called "egg" by the citizens of Amberg, came to be.
The five gates, the Nabburger Tor, the Ziegeltor, the Vilstor, the Georgentor, and the Wingershofer Tor, are already attested in the fourteenth century. The Wingershofer Tor was moved during the castle-like expansion of the palace in the fifteenth century, and in the seventeenth century the Georgentor was replaced by the Neutor, which was placed further south and torn down in 1870. In the last third of the century the towers were built largely in the style of the Renaissance, and in the seventeenth century the baroque fortification structure was built. In spite of the "defortification" of the city at the beginning of the nineteenth cenutry the city fortifications were preserved in many places.
After the secularization of the Franciscan monastery the city theater was built in the monastery's church, which was dedicated to Saint Bernard. In the years 1846/47 and 1862/63 it was redone many times and was closed in 1952 due to disrepair, and a general restoration was carried out from 1975 to 1978. The "flaming sermons" of the blessed Johannes Capistran in 1452 gave the impetus for the construction of a Franciscan monastery, and Amberg citizen Johannes Pachmann made it possible with the gift of his property along the Vils. The monastery, dedicated in 1453, was suspended in the time of the Reformation in 1555, but in 1627 the Reformates, a new branch of the Franciscan order, returned to the Vils, in order to devote themselves to pastoral care until the secularization.
The sacred building today described as the "school church" and dedicated to Saint Augustine was built between 1697 and 1699 as the convent church of the Salesian Sisters, who had come to Amberg shortly before. The plans for this came from Wolfgang Dientzenhofer, who was also in charge of the building. "Rundell" (Wiltmaister), created by him, underwent a complete renovation in 1758, introducing the rococo style into Amberg. While the interior design lay in the hands of Amberg masters - Franz Joachim Schlott assumed the sculpting and carpentry work - the Superior at that time, Angela Viktoria von Orban, engaged the court painter Gottfried Bernhard Götz for the frescoes. After its secularization the convent of the Salesian Sisters passed to the "German School Foundation," which has given it the name it possesses even up to the present day, along with the church. Later it became the Church of the Poor School Sisters of Our Beloved Lady.
The city hall is first mentioned in writing in 1348. Its present-day core, the former city chapel, a gothic chamber, and the room later designated the Great Hall, were built in the second half of the fourteenth century. The city hall underwent significant modifications in the first half of the sixteenth century and an extensive expansion in the second half; the area later designated the Small Hall was built in the latter, as was the city "archive arch" on a mezzanine level. In the last third of the nineteenth century the western facade was heavily redesigned. Not only the second story of the balcony was removed, also the fifth, northernmost arch was replaced by a spiraled stone. At that time the facade was also adorned with two statues, the one portraying Trade and Industry, the other Charity. The most recent renovation of the entire town hall complex was brought to a close in 1989.
Since the middle of the fifteenth century taxes on the property "of the Geintzen" have been levied in the city chamber, and since the middle of the sixteenth century it is clear that it was a council tavern, in which general stores and the upper apothecary were housed.
After the removal of the building, whose designation "Geintzen" is unclear even up to the present day, a three-story building was constructed between 1728 and 1764. An obvious feature of the building is the marking of the facade, done in sandstone blocks, through allegorical representations of the four elements of earth, air, water, and fire. In 1808 the council tavern became the "Wittelsbach court." In 1865 the banker Knirlberger purchased the property, and in 1920 the businessman Paul Baumgart. Thus the council tavern became an office building.
Church of St. Martin
Since the second half of the fourteenth century the intention to replace the Romanesque building with a gothic hall church had been expressed. Building on it nevertheless did not begin until 1421 with the choir, the arch of which was inserted in 1452. After the previous church was torn down, the building of the long house began in 1456; in 1483 the arch of the last yoke was worked on. In 1509 the tower was completed up to the section over the level of the bell. From 1869 to 1874 the baroque outfitting was replaced with a new gothic one.
At 72 meters long, 28 meters wide, and a ridge height of about 40 meters, the Church of St. Martin is the largest hall church in northern Bavaria. A special feature that is only to be found in the purview of the hall churches of Upper Saxony is an extensive gallery at the end of the established apse chapel between the inward-facing buttresses.
The "whale house," also known earlier as the "Jonah house," certainly belongs to the most striking private houses of Amberg. Under the widely jutting roof, which served to hang the colored fabrics, are two figural panels that gave the dyer's property its name and that were affixed by Samuel Balthasar Hetzendörfer, who was homeowner at that time - perhaps in 1693, as a stone tablet by the door to the home indicates. The whale swallows Jonah and again spews him out. Two stone tablets found under this, one of a legendary appearance, half woman and half fish, the other flanked by a helmeted warrior, illustrate the biblical tale.
Joseph Klement Topor von Morawitzky came to Amberg as the vice governor of the Upper Palatinate in 1746. While the governor lived in the palace, Morawitzky built for himself his own city palace on the place designated "on the wood market" at that time. In already the second half of the eighteenth century Johann Kaspar von Wiltmaister called this an "extraordinarily magnificent building ... similar almost to a small residence." It not only had many rooms, but rather also a "large chapel built at great cost." After various uses the city of Amberg acquired the former city residence, in which various city offices have been housed since the renovation work of 1993.
When King Ludwig of Bavaria founded the hospital outside of the then-existent city walls in 1317, a church devoted to Saint John was already in existence there. This patron remained on the main altar of the subsequent hospital church, a single-naved church building with incorporated choir from the middle of the fourteenth century, facing north, in which the king had endowed a mass for the spiritual care of the hospital patients. In 1326 - in the same year the hospital also gave the impetus for the expansion of the city in this area - Ludwig transferred the administration of the hospital to the council, which sought nurses for it. Many donations were received for the outfitting of the hospital, resulting in a considerable estate complex. In the course of time its character changed from a comprehensive welfare establishment to a retirement home in our modern sense.
With the transfer of power from the Palatinate to Bavaria the history of minting in Amberg ended. It had a new beginning in 1762 under Prince Max III Joseph. Various houses were bought and torn down for the erection of a new mint, which began operation in 1763. The central property, from which the three-story structure, with its vivid facade complex, followed, had belonged to the senior civil servant Johann Balthasar von Hahnenkamp, and was built in place of the inn "To The Wild Man," already attested in the sixteenth century and destroyed in 1703.
After the closing of the mint in 1794 the weapons factory established in Amberg in 1801 by Fortschau began the first operations within its walls. One year before the Bavarian state minister Joseph Freiherr von Montgelas had resided in the property for six months.
A Nabburg Gate is first mentioned in the document of 1317 with which King Ludwig of Bavaria founded the Amberg hospital. This city gate, designated the "hospital gate" in the middle of the fourteenth century - and this is explained by its location - is not identical with the later Nabburg Gate, which owes its existence to the city expansion that began in 1326 and is first mentioned in writing in 1382. This treats of a gate ending in pointed arches, which was flanked by two semicircular towers. The gate came to its distinct Renaissance-style appearance under Prince Ludwig VI (1576-1583). Over the gate a fortified two-story superstructure was built, and the towers were expanded in the form of an octagon through an upper story. The Nabburg Gate was not only a part of the city fortifications and the entrance to the city, patrolled by gate attendants, its towers also served as a "detention zone."
There is a relatively long time between the arrival of the Pauline fathers - the order is actually called the "Ordo Fratrum Minimorum sancti Francisci de Paula" - in Amberg in 1652 and the construction of a monastery according to the plans and under the leadership of Wolfgang Dientzenhofer in 1695. The construction of the church dedicated to Saint Joseph after Dientzenhofer's designs took place between 1717 and 1719. After the secularization of the Pauline monastery in 1802 the profaned sacred building, whose outfitting was sold to various churches, found use as a salt barn. From 1851 on its upper floor, partitioned by a suspended ceiling, next served the religious purposes of the Protestant community, which bought the entire church in 1862 and one year later opened it to the parish. After an extensive renovation in 1888 the former Pauline church was dedicated as a Protestant city parish church to great celebration.
As the date 1544 on the southeastern side panel of the southern wing shows, the double-winged structure was finished in this year. According to the chronicle of Michael Schwaiger, which appeared in print in 1564, it contained the city barn, a granary, but also the city armory, which is not to be confused with the electoral one. The armory inventories of the ending sixteenth and the beginning seventeenth century give a good view of the "war furnishings" (Schwaiger) stored here. Since the renovation completed in 1989 the building has served to house the collection of the city museum.