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Bayreuth

Bayreuth is a town in northern Bavaria, Germany, on the Red Main river in a valley between the Frankish Alb and the Fichtelgebirge. It is the capital of Upper Franconia. Population: 74,000 (2001).

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History

Bayreuth was first mentioned in 1194 and may have been founded by the counts of Andechs[?]. Some sixty years later the town (at that time a tiny village) became subordinate to the Hohenzollern state, and when this state was divided, Bayreuth belonged to the county of Kulmbach[?].

The turning point of the town's history was in 1603, when the margrave of Kulmbach (in the meantime also called Brandenburg-Kulmbach) decided to move his residence to Bayreuth. The develepmont of the new capital firstly stagnated due to the Thirty Years' War, but afterwards many famous baroque buildings were added to the town.

In 1769 the last margrave of Brandenburg-Kulmbach (or Brandenburg-Bayreuth) died without an heir, and the state was annexed by the neighbouring Ansbach. Bayreuth was no longer a state capital. Soon after it became Prussian (1792), French (1806) and finally Bavarian (1810).

In 1873 the composer Richard Wagner moved to Bayreuth. For the connection between Wagner and the town, see below.

Later Bayreuth became a scene of the Nazi ideology. Nazi leaders often visited the Wagner festival and tried to turn Bayreuth into a Nazi model town. Therefore Bayreuth was heavily bombed at the end of the World War II.

After the war Bayreuth tried to part with its ill-fated past. The Wagner festival started again in 1951. In 1975 the Bayreuth University was founded and largely contributed to the further growth of the town.

Richard Wagner and Bayreuth

The city is best known for its association with the composer Richard Wagner, who lived in Bayreuth from 1872 until his death in 1883. Wagner's villa, "Wahnfried", was constructed in Bayreuth under the sponsorship of King Ludwig II of Bavaria, and has been converted into a Wagner Museum. To the north of Bayreuth is the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, an opera house specially constructed for the performance of Wagner's operas. The premieres of Wagner's Ring cycle and Parsifal took place here.

Every summer, Wagner's operas are performed at the Festspielhaus during the month-long Richard Wagner Festival, commonly known as the "Bayreuth Festival". The Festival draws thousands of attendees each year, and has consistently been sold-out since its inauguration in 1876. Currently, waiting lists for tickets can stretch for up to 10 years.

Sights

  • Old Castle (Eremitage), former seat of the margraves, outside the inner town
  • New Castle, seat of the margraves from 1753 on
  • Bayreuth Festspielhaus, see above
  • Opera House, one of the finest Baroque theatres of Europe, built in the 18th century

External link

Official website (http://www.bayreuth.de) (German)
Touristical website (http://www.bayreuth-tourismus.de) (German, English, French)



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