Gothic sculpture in Bamberg: disputing prophets and apostles, a touch of anti-semitism, and a secret tip

Do you love Gothic sculpture?  Well, what are you waiting for?  Get yourself over to Bamberg, Germany asap, run up a steep hill past all the college kids drinking smoked beer, past the City Hall that may or may not have been designed by Jeff Koons, to the cathedral.  Don’t miss the superb tympanum and the Adam portal on the outside.  And once you’re inside, stop by and say hi to my boyfriend, The Bamberg Rider.  Now, look around at all the GOTHIC SCULPTURE.  My friends, the sculpture in this church is superb, so take your time.   Once you’ve been to Bamberg, and let’s say, the Chartres and Strasbourg Cathedrals, you have officially attained Gothic Sculpture Nirvana.

Oh, and, here’s a secret tip: there’s a little old lady selling postcards from a booth near the Bamberg Rider.  If you stand in front of her long enough gaping at the sculptures and reading from notes, she’ll get intrigued and come over and talk to you.  If you’re American, she’ll make unflattering remarks about your nationality’s education system and military.  Once she has that out of the way, she’ll be a fascinating resource about the cathedral’s art, and you’ll hang out talking to her until the cathedral shuts down and the guard kicks you out.


Synagoga c. 1225: she represents Judaism and the Old Testament defeated by Christianity.  She’s blindfolded and dropping  Moses’ tablets of law.  Troubling anti-Semitism aside, Synagoga is the most beautiful sculpture in the church.  Actually, with her sheer dress and dignified  stance, she’s quite sexy.


The choir screen has wonderful reliefs of 12 prophets disputing the 12 apostles. c 1230.


Mr. Twisty on the right.


Maybe they’re disputing about the size of the beer gut of the dude on the left.


Cathedral entrance, known as Adam’s Portal, from left to right: weird smiling angel, Cunigunde and Heinrich II, St. Peter, Adam and Eve.  (I can’t say, or even think the name Cunigunde without giggling).


Virgin Mary of the Awesome Drapery.


Creepy smiling angel.


How we got to Bamberg:  train from Nuremberg.

Where we slept: Hotel Sandstern.  Price: €69 for a double.  Recommended: yes.






  1. At this rate I’ll be looking for cheap flights when I’m in Europe later this year….


  2. I hope you do Helen–I’d like to read your posts about your trip!


  3. Love the commentary!


    1. Thank you buntymcc!


  4. Creepy smiling angel has way less sophisticated drapery and more stylized hair than, say, beer gut dude. Definitely more than 1 artist/workshop in play.


  5. LOL–true that!


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