Well then, what makes Regensburg irregular? (Not in that way!) It’s one of Germany’s best-preserved medieval cities, the old city center is a UNESCO World Heritage city of “Outstanding Universal Value” and Regensburg was once the home of retired Pope Benedict XVI.
And, for something that might actually be of interest to our readers, it’s home to Germany’s oldest restaurant, the 800 year old Alte Wurstkuche sausage kitchen (more on that later.)
History of Regenburg (Blonde version)
Our in-depth 10 minutes on Google tell us that present-day Regensburg may have originally been settled as early as the Stone Ages. In 179 the Romans built a fort at the point that is now the old city, or Alstadt, of Regensburg.
The Stone Bridge above was built in Regensburg sometime between 1135 and 1146 and helped Regensburg become a center for trade. It was also the only bridge that crossed the Danube until the 1930s.
And, as is the case with any city this old, everybody and his brother (and sister) seems to have ruled over Regensburg at some point. The Romans came along when, well when Romans were coming along all over the place. Then there were Bavarian dukes, various battles with Austria and the usual religious conflicts (we’re Catholic, no wait we’re Protestant, seriously we really are).
In the 1600s Regensburg was designated an “Imperial City”. Not long after that they established the Imperial Diets. Unlike the Unending Diet that Blonde is on, this Diet was a legislature that met ceaselessly for hundreds of years. Why they didn’t just go ahead and call this “hell” is something we don’t understand.
The “Diet” ended in the 19th century when Napoleon came along and found one more thing to destroy in his ultimately failed effort to make people think he was tall.
Then there were the Nazis who, at best, terrorized and expelled the Jewish community. Regensburg was bombed heavily in World War II in part because it had a Messerschmitt Bf 109 aircraft factory and an oil refinery. But somehow the old center of the city escaped serious damage from bombing.
Present Day Regensburg
Regensburg is the 4th largest city in Bavaria. Before taking the Viking River Cruise of the ‘Romantic Danube” Blonde thought Bavaria was basically a place where people walked around in lederhosen. Apparently it’s a tad more than that.
Bavaria is considered to be one of Germany’s most successful states due to very low unemployment and a well regarded educational system. It may also be a thorn in Angela Merkel’s side (could explain a few of those pained expressions) as it’s the only German state that doesn’t have any elected politicians from her party – the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
What to do in Regensburg if you don’t have much time
If you’re going there with Viking River Cruises then don’t fret about what to see. They have local tour guides who show you each city and who have amazing, and often amusing, facts to share. But if you’re on your own you might do best to focus on the old city center. It has lots of very clean, twisting, picturesque cobblestone streets with just the right amount of shops and coffee houses.
Have a look at St. Peter’s Church which has impressive colorful stained glass windows from the 13th and 14th century, and is the considered to be the greatest Gothic cathedral in Bavaria. Apparently the workers were paid by the hour and not the job as it was begun in 1260 and was finished in the 19th century.
The Imperial Diet Museum is housed in the old city hall but I confess to not having bothered to go see it as diets and legislative bodies are dreary topics.
There are lots of interesting things that catch your eye as you walk through town – not the least of which is this mural. Note how Goliath is leaning on the window frame – love that touch! This mural was already there when Napoleon came to town so it must have made him feel even shorter – poor chap.
If you’re fortunate enough to be in Regensburg in December, as our cruise was, you will definitely want to spend some time at the Christmas market. To get a super wonderful picture of it at night go to the top floor of the town’s department store, walk out on the balcony by the cafeteria and take a picture looking down on the market.
You should also take a stroll along the stream and see the beautiful timber homes that are mostly outside of the city center. There are also some timber buildings inside the city center and those that were damaged or destroyed in World War II have been restored according to very strict standards of authenticity.
This is the famous 800 year old restaurant mentioned in the beginning of this post. Personally I think the term “restaurant” is very generous. There is a woman in the kitchen who may have been an original employee and who needs to be put on a personality improvement program,. There isn’t any table service and the menu consists of either sausage, or sausage or, for the adventuresome, sausage. But you have to eat here to legitimately claim you were in Regensburg and, what the staff lacks in charm the sausage makes up for and the view of the Danube helps a lot.
While you digest your sausages you may want to take one last walk through town for some last minute pictures and to possibly get a souvenir in one of the many stores that sell good quality merchandise actually made in Germany.
And then, if it’s Advent, when you make your way out of the old city you may be lucky enough to look up and see one of the brilliant Moravian stars that hang in so many of the cities of Bavaria.
Regensburg is actually quite a gem of a small city and it provides you with an excellent reason to eat sausages you might eschew (resisting pun) under other circumstances. Check it out if you have the opportunity.
Disclosure: Blonde was the guest of Viking River Cruises. How you feel that may have tainted my opinions is up to you. The truth is it made me very grateful to have a nice clean, warm place with no sausage and very friendly staff to go back to for the night!