Bamberg, 39 mi/63 km north of Nuremberg, is one of the prettiest towns in Germany. It was founded in the 10th century but didn't come to prominence until the 11th century, when the Holy Roman Emperor Heinrich II built his imperial cathedral there.

The Imperial Cathedral of St. Peter and St. George is a striking mix of Romanesque and Gothic architectural styles and houses a number of graceful sculptures, including the famous 13th-century statue of an equestrian knight Bamberg Rider. It is home to the only Vatican-recognized tomb of a pope north of the Alps, that of Clemens II (who died in 1047). The church museum has Germany's oldest nude sculptures, of medieval Adam and Eve.

Bamberg also has one of the quirkiest town halls—its medieval Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall) sits in the middle of a bridge that straddles the Regnitz River. Interesting museums to visit include the Bamberg Nativity Museum, the Franconian Brewery Museum and the University Museum of Early Islamic Art.

Relax in the evening with the town's distinctive rauchbier (smoke beer). Note: Bamberg is extremely popular in high season. Expect crowds and fleets of tour buses if you go in the summer.

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