Bürgstadt was first officially mentioned in 1182; anyhow, the village is most likely remarkably older and had already had its first Golden Age with trans-regional importance during the Middle Ages. In 950 at the latest, the not-to-be-missed Martinskapelle (Chapel) was built.
The Middle Ages
Bürgstadt experienced two glorious eras: During the early Middle Ages when quarrying Red Sandstone, and at the beginning of the Modern Era by viticulture. Around 1000, stone sarcophagi were shipped to cities along the Main River, the Rhine, and all the way to Denmark. Pillars which had been made on the Bürgstadter Mountain, found a place inside the Mainz Cathedral which was mainly built from Red Sandstone originating in the Main Valley.
In 1347, the parish church St. Margareta which kept getting additions up to the 18th century was first officially mentioned. At the archway of the west portal you find the relief of St. Margareta standing on a dragon. The main portal shows the risen Christ in the tympanum.
The famous organ of builder Johann Conrad Wehr was installed in 1749.
In 1340, a Centgraf *(Cent being a regional term for a judicial district; *Centgraf the magistrate for this district) was first mentioned. He was a district official, appointed by the sovereign (the Archbishop of Mainz), leading the district Cent Bürgstadt, and also organizing the national defense. Until the 18th century, Bürgstadt remained seat of the Cents, albeit having lost some of its original significance during the late Middle Ages to the neighboring, and strategically more conveniently located Miltenberg which was protected by a castle.
Between 1590 and 1592 the town hall was built and became an important addition. Reading the dedicatory inscription, you find that the building was financed by a joint fund. The inhabitants had successfully paid their town hall on their own and until today it is one of the more famous sights of Bürgstadt.
In 1540, the red wine of Bürgstadt was first mentioned which, even by today’s standards, has not lost its outstanding relevance. Thanks to good grape harvests at the end of the 16th beginning of the 17th century, Bürgstadt had prospered and was capable of renovating the Martinskapelle.
Its interior is painted with 40 medallion depictions showing the history of salvation. This so-called “Paupers’ Bible” displays scenes from the Old and New Testament, helping illiterate people to understand the stories.
Together with the older frescos in the choir, they are master pieces of the late 16th century renaissance.
There is a dark chapter in the history of the municipality on witch hunts (1616-1618 and 1627-1630), when more than 90 men and women were charged with witchcraft, tortured, and executed. The *CentgrafLeonhard Gackstadt (1626-1655) of Bürgstadt was one of the judges during those witchcraft processes. On the other hand he supported numerous pious foundations. It was assumed that by doing so he tried to salve his conscience. In 1628, he donated a new high altar for the Martinskapelle, and in spring of 1629, he started with the building of the Centgrafenkapelle (see # 14) on the Bürgstadter Mountain.
Tobacco growing has a long history in Bürgstadt. In 1851, the former innkeeper Michael Anton Schäfer first tried to cultivate tobacco in Bürgstadt. With 23 hectares in 1938, the acreage for Bürgstadt-tobacco was at its peak, declining during WW II, but almost re-occupying the initial pre-war area during the 1950s. After 1955, the tobacco growing descended. Since the economic conditions of the population had improved remarkably during those days, it was suddenly possible to do without the often precarious earnings from tobacco growing. The Albert Meisenzahl family, located in the Freudenberger Street, was the last to cultivate tobacco until 1988.
Genussort Bürgstadt / Culinary Hotspot Bürgstadt
Today, whenever red wine is involved, Bürgstadt is one of the most important wine locations of Franconia. Range and highest quality of Franconian red wine viticulture unify incomparably in the „Börscheder“, a respectful nickname for wine from Bürgstadt throughout Churfranken.
But Bürgstadt is even more: The lively vintners’ location is officially one of the 100 culinary hotspots of Bavaria.