10 tips for Regensburg
10 tips for travel enthusiasts
Highlight Regensburg: Such a well-preserved historical townscape had to be crowned a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site: Stone bridge, St. Peter’s Cathedral, the old town hall and the castle of Thurn und Taxis are only the tip of the iceberg of more than a thousand listed buildings! Museal is therefore by no means the medieval town ensemble of the Danube city! Stylish shops, art galleries, pubs and cafés invite you to stroll, watch and enjoy the historic walls.
Regensburg – the medieval metropolis on the Danube
The only preserved medieval metropolis in Germany, 2,000 years of history in a fast-track – Regensburg is adorned with many superlatives, and yet the expectations raised by this unique building ensemble are surpassed when you see this unique building ensemble for yourself and feel the special atmosphere. Around 20,000 students, almost one-seventh of the population, give the venerable old lady a very youthful and fresh face. Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, the Upper Palatinate metropolis has also become an important economic hub for traffic with Eastern Europe, and its Danube port has become an important hub for the transhipment of goods. The last few years have brought the city additional fame: through Joseph Ratzinger’s election to Pope Benedict XVI, it became a papal city and place of pilgrimage overnight in 2005 – although Ratzinger was not born there, but spent many years of his life and career here in the church hierarchy. With the accolade by UNESCO in 2007, it also became a World Cultural Heritage Site and thus became the exclusive club of those sites whose preservation is a matter of concern to mankind. This title is, however, also a burden: On the one hand, because certain modernisation and construction projects can now only be implemented under observation – one thinks of the stone bridge, which is in urgent need of renovation and for whose relief a modern bridge would be needed – and, on the other hand, because a flood of tourists has been pouring over the city since then, which hardly ever meets the existing infrastructure with hotels and restaurants. So if you want to visit the city in peace and quiet, you should make an early reservation.
1. Through the old town
Regensburg’s historic city centre is relatively compact, surrounded by a park belt in the west, south and east and bordered by the Danube to the north. Opposite the old town centre, between the Danube and the rain, lies the now integrated Stadtamhof, which was an independent settlement until 1924. Most of the sights are located in the heart of the Old Town and are within walking distance. There are two exceptions: The Church of St. Jakob in the Schottenkirche hides a little bit away in the west. Either you head for them as a side trip to the snuff museum or you visit them independently of the sightseeing tour – it is definitely worthwhile. On the southern edge of the Old Town, the Princely Castle of Thurn und Taxis with its castle museum and the Basilica of St. Emmeram forms an independent ensemble which can be visited for at least two hours.
2nd Porta Praetoria and Bishop’s court
The walk through the history of Regensburg naturally begins with the Romans. In 179 AD, Marc Aurel had a fort built opposite the mouth of the rain into the Danube. A piece of southeast corner wall and the north gate Porta Praetoria on the street Unter den Schwibbögen are preserved. Joined together without the aid of mortar from 13 wedge-shaped boulders, it reaches an arch width of four metres. The bishops of Regensburg integrated the Roman gate in the Middle Ages as a representative entrance to their residence; the four-winged complex of the bishop’s courtyard between Schwibbögen and St. Peter’s Cathedral serves, among other things, as a hotel and restaurant as well as a cathedral treasure museum.
3rd St. Peter’s Cathedral
The beginnings of this church were lost in the 8th century, when St. Boniface declared the city next to Passau and Salzburg as the bishop’s seat. A cathedral of the Carolingian period from the 11th century has been proven – its foundations adjoin the present cathedral in the east and are partly overbuilt by it. City fires then led to ever new conversions and extensions until the cathedral construction project under Bishop Leo the Thgundorf was completely revamped. The construction work had to be interrupted several times because of financial problems; the imposing cathedral was only completed in 1785, then in the late Baroque style of the time. In the 19th century, it was regotised and the two towers were raised to today’s height.
4. Relaxed view of the cathedral
An intensive view of the west facade of the cathedral can be enjoyed over a cup of coffee at Haus Heuport on the opposite side: Choose one of the tables of the restaurant rooms at the windows on the first floor! The tracery and the sculptures appear close enough to touch and you have the leisure to study every detail. By the way, the house itself is also an attraction: parts of the four-winged complex date back to the 12th century, while the Gothic staircase leading up to the former ballroom is preserved in the inner courtyard. An interesting detail is the Gothic gothic sculpture group, which is mounted at half height: the “Törichte Jungfrau” is about to succumb to the flattery of the pretty “prince of the world”.
5. Cheering voices in the cathedral
Even those who are not churchgoers will enjoy a mass in the cathedral with the musical accompaniment of the Regensburger Domspatzen. The boys’ choir takes part in the liturgy almost every Sunday morning; the jubilant voices of the singers intensify the enormous impression of the church interior. If you would rather just visit a concert of the Domspatzen, you can inform yourself about the dates on their homepage.
6th Favorite place – a symbolic place made of stone
Every time I come to this city, the first passage leads me here, in front of the breathtakingly bizarre Jacob Portalal of the Church of St. James, which is equipped with an infinite number of details. It is a panopticon of the Middle Ages, its plagues and fears, its desires and joys. There’s the cuddling couple in the eastern field of view. Demons and mythical creatures, saints and monks, prostitutes and fiddlers populate the north wall with the jewelry portal in sometimes bizarrely seeming twists and turns. Take your time to take the many pictures and scenes. The overall picture is probably the one of the Last Judgement – to let itself be affected. Perhaps you will succeed in what has so far been the cause of art history’s failure: a conclusive interpretation of this sometimes crude symbolism.
7th St. Emmeram/Castle of Thurn and Taxis
Schloss Thurn und Taxis at the southern edge of Regensburg’s old town is a “city” in its own right. The complex, originally a monastery, developed around a probably pre-Carolingian church with the tomb of St. Emmeram. In the 10th century Abbot Ramwold initiated the expansion of the monastery, in the 11th century the western part and the Wolfgang’s crypt were built, in the 12th century the church St. Rupertus was built next to St. Emmeram, the two churches were connected by a common vestibule. Fires, reconstructions, destruction in the Thirty Years’ War and finally in 1730 the complete Baroque transformation by the Asam brothers changed the face of the church and monastery repeatedly. In 1748 Prince Alexander Ferdinand von Thurn und Taxis moved into the east wing with his family as Principal Commissioner, i. e. as a representative of the Emperor at the permanent Reichstag.
8th Parish church square
The Gesandtenstraße leads into Neupfarrplatz. It was built from 1521 for the pilgrimage to the “Beautiful Mary”, a picture painted by Albrecht Altdorfer, but was already converted into a Protestant church in 1542 with Regensburg’s conversion to Protestantism and shows itself in the reserved robe of the early Renaissance. Until 1519 this square had been the centre of the Jewish quarter, the synagogue had been burnt down in the progroms, and because of a “miracle”, the town quickly erected a wooden pilgrimage chapel, which was then replaced by the Neupfarrkirche (New Parish Church). Since 2005, the outlines of the destroyed synagogue have been in the form of a walk-through bas-relief in front of the church. The Israeli artist Dani Karavan wanted to explicitly create a place of encounter for the synagogue with his memorial called “Misrach” (Hebrew: East). The Regensburger have accepted this and use the indicated foundation and column stumps for resting and chatting. The third sight on Neupfarrplatz is hidden to the east of the church.
9. Old chapel
Dreihelmgasse and Am Frauenbergl flow into the Alte Kornmarkt with the collegiate church. Our Lady to the Old Chapel on the south side. In the 9th century the foundations of the church were laid, alterations took place in the late Gothic period, the completely new interior decoration in the spirit of the rococo style in the 18th century. Like the scenes in the frescoes depicting the baptism of the pagan Agilofinger duke Theodo, they are supposed to emphasize that the Old Chapel is Regensburg’s first church. A masterpiece of the rococo era is the high altar of Simon Sorg from Regensburg.
10th Romanity and Ducal Court
The baptism of Agilofinger, depicted in the Old Chapel, is said to have taken place in the 7th century; the dukes established their residence in the former Roman fort on the west side of the Kornmarkt. After that, the Carolingians built their palace from 826 onwards, from which Charlemagne regularly healed and ruled the court. From 1195 onwards, the palace complex then fell to the Wittelsbach dynasty. Today, the Duke’s court appears in the robe of the 12th century and is connected to the 28 m high Roman tower by a candle arch. It is made of granite blocks, which originated from a Roman predecessor building, and was a refuge and treasure chamber.