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Travel tips for Bayreuth – Wagner, Wilhelmine, wheat beer

Germany - City of Bayreuth (picture alliance/dpa/E. Hartmann)

Once a year, Bayreuth rolls out the red carpet for the Wagner Festival. If you didn’t get a ticket to the Bayreuth Festival, visiting northern Bavaria city is still worthwhile.

Germany - City of Bayreuth (picture alliance/dpa/E. Hartmann)

Bayreuth viewed from above

Small, picturesque, and dreamy – Bayreuth was the ideal place for Richard Wagner. Here nothing distracted them from his music, here he wanted to realize the dream of his own festival hall. Anyone who visits Bayreuth today will be surprised by how much more there is to discover besides the composer and his legacy.

Germany 102nd Bayreuth Festival - Opening (picture-alliance/dpa/T. Hase)

Festspielhaus: Temporary theater

Only five weeks a year are there performances in the Festspielhaus, alternating ten Wagner operas, which the master himself has authorized. The rest of the time the house is empty, what a luxury! If you can’t get hold of a ticket for the festival, take part in a guided tour of the house. They are offered all year round, with the exception of the festival season.

Bayreuth Festspielhaus Opera Konzerthaus (Imago/Karo)

The acoustics: wood is the secret

During the tour, you will learn everything about the special sound experience in the house. Wagner designed the special shape of the orchestra pit himself. He only had wood installed on the stage and in the auditorium, which absorbs the vibration of the tones. Although the spectators now sit for hours on hard wooden chairs, they are rewarded with exceptional acoustics.

Bayreuth, Margravial Opera House, interior view after restoration (Bavarian Palace Department/Heiko Oehme)

Margravial Opera House: Magnificent world heritage

A guided tour through Bayreuth’s second music theater, the Margravial Opera House, is also worthwhile. This magnificent baroque theater has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2012. Wagner originally came to Bayreuth because of this opera house, which at the time had the largest stage in Europe. He then decided to build a new building, the auditorium was too small for his mammoth projects.

Margrave Fountain in Bayreuth (picture alliance/DUMONT/G. Knoll)

New Castle: Welcome to Wilhelmine’s World!

The New Castle bears the same signature as the Margravial Opera House, namely that of Margravine Wilhelmine. The sister of Prussian King Frederick the Great was married to Bayreuth. Here she had the existing facilities redesigned or rebuilt in her elegant style, which today is called “Bayreuth Rococo”.

Franconia: Hermitage in Bayreuth (picture-alliance)

Hermitage: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Wilhelmine also had this little summer palace remodeled according to the latest fashion at the time, with a Japanese cabinet, a music room, and many water features in the garden. Every year, the Hermitage, festively illuminated, becomes the scene of the Bayreuth Summer Festival, one of the most romantic festivals in all of Bavaria.

Bavaria Bayreuth - Sights - Hofgarten (Bayreuth Marketing & Tourismus GmbH)

Hofgarten: French-English garden paradise

Dead-straight Allen, canals, and fountains in between. Aha, a French garden, say those in the know. But then he also walks on winding paths, past groups of trees that appear in the landscape as if by chance. Margrave Alexander had parts of the French complex redesigned in the “English style” at the end of the 18th century.

Germany |  Richard Wagner Museum in Bayreuth (picture alliance/dpa/N. Armer)

Villa Wahnfried: At home with the Wagners

At the edge of the Hofgarten is Wagner’s first permanent residence; he was already over 60 years old when he and his family moved into Villa Wahnfried in 1874. Today the house is a museum. On display are testimonies from the life and work of the composer, who is buried in the garden behind the house next to his wife Cosima.

Bavaria Bayreuth - Sights - Beer garden (Bayreuth Marketing & Tourismus GmbH)

The beer garden, Bavaria’s best invention

No visit to Bayreuth without a beer garden! Take Wagner as a role model: he liked to drink freshly tapped Weihenstephan beer. If he overdid it, his wife Cosima spoke of a “diet mistake”. Bayreuth offers tourists several of these “diet traps”. The most extensive beer garden is the Herzogkeller with 1000 seats (picture).

Bayreuth Festival 2015 - Richard Wagner sculpture (picture-alliance/dpa/N. Armer)

And finally: A selfie with Wagner

In 2013, on Richard Wagner’s 200th birthday, the city of Bayreuth donated this statue to its most famous resident: Wagner relaxed and content on a park bench. Passers-by can sit next to the master and take photos. A selfie with Wagner, a nice memory of Bayreuth. And an incentive to come back one day, then with a ticket for the Wagner Festival!

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