The pretty town of Bayreuth dates back to about the 12th century, but it remained essentially unnoticed for hundreds of years. Its status changed considerably in the later years of the 17th century, when the town was chosen to be the seat of the Margraves of Kulmbach. By the 1730s Margrave Frederick and Margravine Wilhelmina had ushered in Bayreuth's golden age. Surrounding themselves with a lively court of architects, artists and musicians, they left the town with a rich cultural heritage - and some of its finest structures, including the Opera House and the delightful buildings on Friedrichstrasse.
About a century later, the renowned composer Richard Wagner decided to settle in the town, as it offered him a stage large enough to put on his ambitious, grand-scale opera productions. The impetus generated by Wagner was tremendous, and Bayreuth's opera festival has been rightly famous throughout Europe ever since. Today, the town retains a number of attractive features from its prosperous past, and Bayreuth continues to delight visitors.