In 1007 Emperor Heinrich II made Bamberg the center of the Holy Roman Empire and the capital of his reign. He ordered the building of a new cathedral which was consecrated in 1012 and remains the architectural and spiritual heart of the city. Pope Clement II is buried in the cathedral along with Heinrich and his wife.
Bamberg's prosperity has always been linked to the river. In the Middle Ages, it was the starting point for shipping on the Main and it is now the northern starting point of the Main-Danube Canal. It is also a vibrant cultural center that blossomed beginning in the late 17th century at the time of the founding of the University and rose to prominence 100 years later when Bamberg became the center of the Enlightenment for southern Germany.
Bamberg is one of the few cities in Germany not destroyed by World War II bombing. Thus it has the largest Old Town that has its medieval structures.
Bamberg is famous for its rauchbier or "smoke beer". Some of the breweries use malt that has been dried over open fires made from beech wood logs and produce several varieties of the smoke beer. Because of its robust brew, it goes very well with bold, full-flavored foods such as smoked ham, pork, salmon, sausage and cheese.