The History of Geyerswörth and the Geyerswörth Gardens
An Island in Bamberg’s Historic Old Town with a Colourful History
At the heart of Bamberg’s historic city centre, next to the Old Town Hall and the romantic Miller’s District, the island of Geyerswörth is surrounded by the Regnitz river and the Ludwig-Danube-Main canal. The name of the island comes from the Geyer family, who settled in Bamberg in the 14th century and built a chateau complex that was used as the official family residence. The second part of the name, “-wörth”, comes from an old dialect and describes how the island was surrounded by a swamp. The Bishop of Bamberg took over the chateau in 1580 and the gardens of Geyerswörth became famous. Prince-Archbishop Johann Georg Zobel von Giebelstadt turned the many smaller gardens in the area into a single large compound. His work was carried on by the prince-archbishops that followed, all of whom spared no expenses to improve the garden and made it well-known beyond the Bishopry of Bamberg. The chateau was rebuilt and served as the city residence of the prince-bishops until 1703. After Bishop Lothar, Earl of Schönborn, took over the chateau and garden complex in 1705, the chateau was rebuilt to serve as a home for different local government offices, leading to many changes for the chateau: many historic wall paintings were painted over or destroyed.
After the separation of church and state and the dissolution of the Bishopry of Bamberg in 1803, the Geyerswörth Chateau became the property of the Bavarian State government. This was a tumultuous period of social and political upheaval in the region and the famous gardens were severely neglected and lost all of their former glory during the 18th century. At the beginning of the 19th century, Michael Anton Bayerlein, a local merchant, bought land outside of the Chateau’s border to put up warehouse space, adding later a residence and the history of the Geyerswörth Gardens was slowly reborn. In 1882, the owners started to landscape new gardens and meandering paths were laid out. These plans still exist in official documents. In 1920, Dr. Adolf Hübscher acquired the estate, recasting it as private clinic and used the garden primarily to grow fruits and vegetables for his patients and family. During this period, remnants of the previous gardens were re-used. Some of these elements were discovered during the building of the current Hotel Villa Geyerswörth: a baroque balustrade made from local sandstone, a fountain and two sculptures of females from the 2nd half of the 19th century, which documented the sculptural technique of concrete casting used during the time.
The architect Karl-Diethard Geyer felt it was important to have these restored reminders of the garden’s former glories integrated into the park (around 1,500 m²) surrounding the Hotel Villa Geyerswörth which was completed in June of 2003. The extensively restored Geyerswörth Chateau continues to house a number of local government offices. The Renaissance Hall there is considered to be a top-class tourist attraction and displays some of the most distinguished paintings of Upper Franconia.