At the geographical and political heart of Franken is the city of Würzburg. It is a city steeped in majestic and traumatic history, having been the site of numerous revolts and invasions, and the devastation of WW2. In 1945 90% of the city was destroyed by an incendiary air raid, though many of the original buildings have been laboriously restored to their former appearance. One such reconstruction, Würzburg Residenz (Würzburg Residence), was awarded world heritage status in 1981. The restoration was not completed until 1987, and in many ways it embodies the locals’ resilient spirit.
Stationed on the imposing Leistenberg hill is Festung Marienberg (Fortress Marienberg). The site was in use as a Celtic fortification as early as 1000 BC, and became the residence of the prince-bishops from 1261 to 1720. It is now the symbol of Würzburg, and below its steep stone walls is the Erste Lage vineyard of Innere Leiste. The vineyard stretches one mile (1.6km) from west to east in a steep valley before it dog-legs to the north on the banks of the Main river. The predominantly south-facing orientation offers favourable sun exposure as well as protection from the elements further up the valley.
The most acclaimed vineyard in Würzburg, and perhaps all of Franken, is Würzburger Stein. This famous Erste Lage site is best known for its Silvaner, but Riesling and Weissburgunder are also present. The entire slope spans for nearly two miles (3.2km) and forms a natural border to the northern edge of the city. Stein is south-facing and may be further partitioned into two smaller sub-sites: Stein Hagemann and Stein-Harfe. The so-called crown jewel of Würzburg is Stein-Harfe, the broadest portion of the vineyard at the eastern extremity. The name Harfe (harp) is in reference to the rows of vines that are said to be so elegant as to represent the strings on a harp. The protection of the forest ridge allows Riesling to ripen fully here, a quality not shared by many other vineyards in Franken.