Following on from our enjoyable lunch at the historic Wurstkuchl in Regensburg, we set off explore more of the Altstadt (Old Town). Regensburg is a marvellous place to visit as the city escaped relatively unscathed from the ravages of the World War 2 bombing and thus most of the Altstadt has been preserved in its original state. It now enjoys UNESCO World Heritage listed status and is a major tourist attraction in this part of Bavaria (the Upper Palatinate).
Regensburg was known as Ratisbon in English until well into the 2oth century (Ratisbonne in French and Ratisbona in Spanish and Italian). Its strategic position at the confluence of 3 rivers, the Danube, Naab and Regen, led to the city becoming an important medieval trading route with powerful influences north of the Alps and trading connections spreading out to Italy, Bohemia and further afield to Russia and the Byzantium. It was also an important city within the Holy Roman Empire and the location of many imperial assemblies in the High Middle Ages. The Perpetual Assembly of the Holy Roman Empire was held here between 1663 to 1806. All these influences have created a rich and colourful history, which today is reflected in the impressive buildings and character of the Altstadt. The UNESCO World Heritage website has further information on Regensburg’s history here.
There are many tours on offer and you can find details of some of these on the city of Regensburg’s web page here. However, although we have often done walking tours of new places, on this occasion Monsieur Le Chic and I preferred to wander round at our leisure taking in as much in as we could. Sometimes I find it can get a bit too much to take in all the historical information on an organised tour (or maybe I have a short attention span?!). I often find myself reading up in more detail about a place after I’ve been there – initially I like to get a feel for it myself! The history of Regensburg is complex and the old buildings date back from various eras. Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque styles all mingle together in the Old Town.
We had as our starting point a map helpfully situated on the opposite side of the road from our arrival point, the Hauptbahnhof.
The Altsadt is a bit like a maze, pretty meandering cobbled streets opening out at various points into larger squares. If in doubt following the church spires usually gets you to a central point! The central Domplatz is dominated by the imposing spire of St Peter’s Dom. The current cathedral was built in the 1300s on the site of previous buildings and is a magnificent example of Gothic architecture.
We went inside and wandered round but the light was not conducive to taking good photos so there are not as many as I would like. However the crypt is particularly interesting. It has quite a lot of detail about the history of the cathedral including a memorial stone wall plaque inscribed with the names of all the bishops of Regensburg. There is also a poignant memorial to Dr Johann Maier, a preacher at the cathedral and a victim of the Nazis who is buried here.
Not far away from Domplatz you reach the Danube. One of the major attractions here, right by our lunch venue the Wurstkuchl, is the Old Stone Bridge (Steinerne Bruecke). The bridge, which replaced an old wooden one was constructed in the 12th century to link the Old Town with Stadtamhof. For about 800 years it was the only bridge across the Danube and not unsurprisingly it started to erode. Centuries of heavy traffic including armies going off to fight in the crusades had taken its toll and for the time being you can only admire the Old Stone Bridge encased in scaffolding as it is undergoing major restoration work.
It was somewhat chilly by the river so we headed back up towards the Old Town Hall (the Altes Rathaus).
We did take a couple of wrong turns – the myriad of streets can get a little confusing but one way or another you usually end up back at a landmark and get your bearings again. Hopefully by next week I’ll have found my way to the Altes Rathaus! Join me then for Part 2 of exploring the Altstadt Regensburg!
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