Ansbach is the administrative capital of Middle Franconia, largely due to having been a residence of the Margraves of Ansbach-Bayreuth in the past. At roughly 40,000 inhabitants, it is by far not the largest city in Middle Franconia.
The town of Ansbach served as the residence of a cadet branch of the Hohenzollern dynasty and capital of a petty margravial state from the 14th to 19th century. One of the most famous Prussian military marches ("Hohenfriedberger") is a tribute to the Ansbach dragoons. The margraviate of Ansbach was annexed by Bavaria in 1806. For historic reasons, the former residence (rather than the much bigger city of Nuremberg) still serves as the administrative seat of Middle Franconia, hosting a number of agencies, courts and educational facilities that is disproportional to the size of the town.
Kaspar Hauser, a mysterious foundling who claimed to have grown up in complete isolation, lived in Ansbach from 1831 until his violent death two years later. Some believed him to be the abducted heir to the throne of Baden, while others considered him a patent liar and a fraud. Before he succumbed to his injuries, Hauser claimed that he had been assassinated in the court garden; most experts however believe that his injuries were self-inflicted (without suicidal intent) in order to gain attention.
Ansbach is home to an American Army Garrison which has been downsized in the course of post-Cold War withdrawal from Germany.
- 1 Ansbach station. Served by intercity trains from Nuremberg and Stuttgart every two hours, from Hamburg, Hanover and Munich once a day. Hourly regional trains from Würzburg and S-Bahn (suburban line) S4 from Nuremberg. The trip from Nuremberg takes 30–40 minutes, from Würzburg one hour, from Stuttgart 1 hr 40 min, from Munich 1 hr 50 min.
Most of the sights are in the old town which is less than a kilometer in diameter. Within this area, as well as the neighbouring residence and court garden, everything is accessible by foot. Cars should be parked outside the old town with its narrow lanes, one-ways and pedestrian zones.
Ansbach has a lovely and well-maintained old town.
- 1 Ansbach Residence (Margrave's Palace). Large Rococo-style palace (almost disproportional to the size of the town) that now hosts the district government of Middle Franconia and a comprehensive collection of faiences and porcelain, paintings, ballroom with ceiling fresco and hall of mirrors. €4.50.
- 2 St. Gumbertus. Late-romanesque church with burial place of the Ansbach margraves. It was built around 750 CE, and was converted into a Lutheran church when the Margraves became Lutheran. According to the then valid principle of cuius regio eius religio, their subjects had to convert or leave, too.
- 3 St. Johannis, Martin-Luther-Platz. The second major medieval church of the town. Its architecture is Gothic, the interior Baroque.
- 4 Synagogue, Rosenbadstraße. Baroque-style. Unlike most synagogues in Germany, it survived the Nazis' "Kristallnacht" of 1938 almost undamaged. Can only be visited during a guided tour.
- 5 Orangerie. Large Baroque-style orangery, part of the court garden.
- 6 Court garden (Hofgarten). Extensive and idyllic French-styled garden, including limetree avenues, lawns, flower parterre, orangery and citrus house. A medicinal plant garden was layed out according to the works of 16th-century botanist and physician Leonhart Fuchs (name giver of the fuchsia). A stele marks the place where Kaspar Hauser was supposedly assassinated: Hic occultus occulto occisus est ("The mysterious one was killed here in a mysterious way").
- 1 Ansbach theater, Promenade 29. Quite an impressive repertoire for such a small town. Founded in the mid 2000s.
- 2 Ansbach Grizzlies. One of the oldest American football teams in Germany, they played the very first German Bowl in 1979 against the now defunct Frankfurt Löwen. Their founding, like that of many of the earliest American football teams in Germany was linked to a notable US Army presence in the area. In the first years (before the introduction of more substantial limits on the number of Americans on the field), many of their players were serving tours of duty for the US Army at nearby bases, which have been shut down or greatly reduced in size in the post Cold War era. However, during the 1980s Ansbach produced several German national team players. They played in every German Bowl between 1979 and 1986 (I-VIII), winning it all in 1981, 1982 and 1985. Since those glory days, their fortunes have waned, however, they still field some pretty decent youth teams given the small size of the town.
- The surroundings of Ansbach are picturesque and inviting for a cycling tour. However they are quite hilly, so if you are not trained at all, you may opt for an e-bike.
- 1 Restaurant Orangerie, Promenade 33, ☏ .
- 2 Schwarzer Bock, Pfarrstraße 31, ☏ . Kitchen daily 12:00–20:30, drinks until 21:30. A traditional down home Franconian place with a beer garden. Try the Schäufala, a pork shoulder with a bacon-like crust. Mains €9–19.
- 3 Café Karl, Karlstraße 7. Cozy Café with cake and an outdoor seating area.
- 1 Brasserie-Lounge, Schwanenstraße 7. W-Su opening 19:00, closing around midnight on weeknights, around 05:00 on weekends. The family-run pub is owned by a German-Taiwanese couple and boasts an impressive menu of spirits (listing some 420 different drinks, including some high-end whiskys, cognacs and champagne). Usually the last pub in town to close. Snacks and fastfood served all night. The pub's highlight is called "Wheel of Death": a wheel of fortune, where you pay a fix price and the drink you will get is determined by chance, it may be an upscale whisky or armagnac at best or "dishwater" at worst. 0.5l beer €2.70, spirits at €1.80 to €40 a shot, longdrinks starting at €4, cocktails €7 up.
- 2 Café Klatsch, Kronenstraße 1. M-Sa 17:00-01:00, closed on Sundays. Popular cafe and pub in the old town, with tables on the street and in the patio during Summer. Occasionally hosts small concerts, jam sessions or pub quiz. 0.5l draught beer €2.90.
- 3 Café Störtebecker und Joes Waschsalon, Würzburger Straße 18. M 13:00-00:00, Tu-Th 14:00-00:00, F 14:00-02:00, Sa 14:00-03:00, closed on Sundays. Quirky pub with bizarre interior, including a laundrette. Meeting place of left-wing and subcultural groups, cards and bord game nerds. A football table is available, drinks are incredibly cheap. The publican is a character (but should not be argued with). shots and longdrinks €2.50, 0.5l beer €2 to 2.50.
- 1 Hotel Der Platengarten, Promenade 30, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Upscale hotel with antique furniture. double from €98.
- 2 Hotel Schwarzer Bock, Pfarrstraße 31, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Double from €99.
- 3 Landgasthof Schwarzes Roß, Wasserzell 21 (3 km (1.9 mi) from downtown), ☏ . double from €84 (early booking from €70)..
- 7 Lichtenau Fortress (10 km southeast of Ansbach). Renaissance stronghold of the Nuremberg burgraves.
- 8 Herrieden (11 km southwest of Ansbach). Picturesque old town on Altmühl River.
- 9 Colmberg Castle (16 km northwest of Ansbach). High-medieval spur castle.
- 10 Wolframs-Eschenbach (18 km southeast of Ansbach). Hometown of the legendary medieval poet and Minne singer Wolfram von Eschenbach. Medieval town wall and gates, castle of the Teutonic Knights.
- 11 Heilsbronn Abbey (with an 's', not Heilbronn!) (20 km east of Ansbach, 15 min by S-Bahn train). Former Cistercensian abbey and minster.
- Franconian Lake District, including Gunzenhausen (30 km southeast; 18 min by train)
- Rothenburg ob der Tauber, 35 km northwest (40 min by train via Steinach), international symbol of a romantic-medieval German town
- Dinkelsbühl, 40 km southwest (1 hr by bus 805), another romantic-medieval, a little less crowded than Rothenburg
- Nuremberg, 45 km northeast (30–40 min by train)
- Altmühl Valley nature park, including Treuchtlingen (50 km south of Ansbach; 35 min by train), Weißenburg, Pappenheim, Solnhofen, Eichstätt – Altmühl cycling path is one of the most popular bike trails in Southern Germany, passing many natural and cultural sights; alternatively you may travel along the river by canoe.
- Nördlingen, 60 km south
- Schwäbisch Hall, 70 km southwest (1 hr by train via Crailsheim)
|Routes through Ansbach|
|Stuttgart ← Crailsheim ←||Karlsruhe Nuremberg||→ Nuremberg|