Wurzbirg, a city of Bavaria, capital of Lower Franconia, on the right bank of the Main, which is navigable here and spanned by a large stone bridge with statues of saints, 140 m. N. W. of Munich; pop. in 1875, 40,005, all Catholics excepting about 5,000 Protestants and 1,100 Jews. It is irregularly built, but has fine streets and promenades. It has a magnificent episcopal palace with a garden, rebuilt in 1720-44. The principal churches are the cathedral, rebuilt in the 11th century, containing the Schönborn chapel and monuments of bishops; the Marienkapelle, with remarkable specimens of early German art; and the Stifthaug, built after St. Peter's, with an imposing cupola. The university was founded in 1403 by Bishop Johann von Eglofstein, but was closed after his death, and restored in 1582 by the prince-bishop Julius. The institution received a great impulse through the princebishop Franz Ludwig von Erthal (died in 1795), but declined after 1805, on the cession of the see of Würzburg to the former grand duke Ferdinand of Tuscany, and did not revive until the restoration of Bavarian rule in 1815. It has ever since held a foremost rank, especially in medicine.
The Julius hospital embraces the lecture rooms, anatomical theatre, botanic garden, and chemical laboratory, and close by are the lying-in and epileptic hospitals. In 1875 the university had 58 professors and several other teachers, and was attended by 960 students, chiefly in medicine, excepting 200 in philosophy and 130 in theology, including many foreigners. The university library has 100,000 volumes and 1,500 manuscripts. The other institutions include a gymnasium, theological seminary, and various schools and charitable asylums. The prosperity of the city has lately much increased, and it is in a fair way of becoming a centre of trade for southern Germany, especially in wine and fruit. The principal manufactures are sparkling wines, leather, tobacco, wool, and railway carriages. - Würzburg dates from the 6th century. In the 7th it became the capital of a part of Franconia. St. Kilian is said to have preached the gospel here in 688. St. Boniface about 741 installed Burkhardt as the first of the bishops, who were ultimately raised to the rank of prince-bishops, and after 1120 they were known for a time as dukes of Franconia. In the 18th century their territory had a population of 250,000. The treaty of Luneville (1801) secularized the see, and most of it was incorporated in 1803 with Bavaria. In 1805 it was by the treaty of Presburg allotted to the former grand duke Ferdinand III. of Tuscany, and raised to an electoral principality.
In 1806 it became a grand duchy; but in 1814 - '5, when Ferdinand was reinstated in Tuscany, Wiirzbwrg was restored to Bavaria. The opposite fortress of Marienberg was bombarded in July, 1866, by the Prussians under Gen. Goeben; and shortly after the army of the Main occupied Wurzburg and the adjoining territory. The fortifications of the city were razed, but those of Marienberg were restored as barracks and a state prison, which during the war of 1870-'71 contained over 7,000 French prisoners.