By Marilyn Heimburger
Photos by the author and Don Heimburger
The UNESCO World Heritage city of Regensburg, Germany, 90 minutes north of Munich, is more than 2,000 years old, and many of its buildings serve as a testament to its long history.
There’s plenty of reminders of this town’s heritage: located on the Danube, many tour ships dock here and unload visitors for a peek into this German treasure.
Even Mozart liked the city: Regensburg’s hospitality was commended as early as 1790 by Mozart who enjoyed “a sumptuous meal along with divine music” and praised the good wine.
Numerous Roman buildings, such as the Porto Praetorius–an old Roman town gate–can still be seen today. It was preserved because the Bishop’s beer garden was located on the site. An underground museum at Neupfarrplatz displays the history of the Romans and the Jewish community there until 1519.
NEUPFARRPLATZ IN JEWISH QUARTER
At the Neupfarrplatz, houses were built in the Jewish quarter over the old Roman fortress in the 8th century. These were destroyed in 1519 when the Jews were blamed for a downturn in the economy and were driven out.
In 1995 an excavation of the area was begun, and the ruins of the Jewish quarter were found, in addition to the Roman ruins.
Found in the excavation and on display in the underground museum were a second or third century statue of the Roman god Mercury; from the 15th century a statue of Aaron (Mose’s brother); and from 1520 an icon of the Virgin Mary. The museum is called Document Neupfarrplatz; if you walk down a flight of stairs, you can view a video showing the excavation finds. www.regensburg.de.
The city began as a Roman fortification (Castra Regina) in 179 AD by Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius because it was the northernmost point on the Danube. When the Roman Empire fell, the Romans retreated. The fortress built there was not destroyed, and Bavarians then occupied it. It was the first capital of Bavaria; believe it or not, Munich is 1000 years younger!
Not much was damaged in the town during World War II as there wasn’t much industry in Regensburg, so there was nothing to bomb. Thus, the old buildings were preserved.
‘ITALY’S NORTHERNMOST CITY’
Rich merchants gained wealth from importing goods from far away lands. They built large homes with tall towers (a show of strength and wealth) after the style in Italy. Many of these are still standing in Regensburg; nearly 20 are still well preserved. The town is often called “Italy’s northernmost city” because of this.
One of the big Regensburg attractions is The Old Stone Bridge, built on 16 huge arches, which has been in continuous use for more than 800 years. Built between 1135 and 1146, the Stone Bridge enjoys the status of being a unique masterpiece of medieval engineering. It was for many centuries the only stone bridge spanning the Danube between Ulm and Vienna. It was not only a technological masterpiece of engineering, but of strategic importance in terms of transport and, as a result, of great commercial value.
Another town attraction is the Old Town Hall, where Roman Emperors used to summon princes, bishops and ambassadors to discuss the affairs of state. The Imperial Diet Chamber still contains the same furniture, including the benches that gave rise to the German expression “to put something on the long bench” (meaning to postpone it indefinitely).
For a quick and tasty lunch, sit down near the Danube and enjoy hot, juicy sausages with kraut and bread in the “Historische Wurstkuchl,” the world’s oldest sausage kitchen. You can actually see them frying the sausages on the grill through a door that leads into the small kitchen. http://www.wurstkuchl.de
Regensburg is a city of churches. Focal points of early Christianity, its ecclesiastical buildings are majestic and typify early Christian architecture. Most famous is St. Peter’s Cathedral, inspired by the French Gothic style and built in the 13th century.
At waterside, Schifffahrt Klinger offers boat trips to many different sights such as the Walhalla, the German Hall of Fame containing busts of famous German personalities.
Regensburg`s remarkable buildings and towers offer an unspoiled look into the past; the wars of the 19th and 20th centuries left this Danubian community virtually unscathed.
The Regensburg Tourism Office is located at the old Rathaus, Rathausplatz 3, D-93047 in Regensburg. Fax is +49 941-507-1919 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about Germany go to www.cometogermany.com.