Regensburg really is the hidden gem of Bavaria and is actually quite often forgotten by Europe, as it was once the bustling empire of the entire Holy Roman Empire, therefore making it one of the most impoartant cities in Europe from 788 to 1806. Yet, it’s often overlooked for larger and more popular towns like Nuremberg or Munich.
Many people call Regensburg the “Northern Most Italy” because the summer is fantastic here and the streets are lined with cafes and small alleys that meander and wind through the whole town and many beautiful colored buildings. It’s impossible to get lost with the spires of the Regensburg Cathedral always leading you home. With three rivers, the Naab, the Regen and the Danube, it grew to become a medieval trading route.
Regensburg was lucky to escape the Second World War with almost no damage even though it was the home of an aircraft factory and an oil refinery. Both of these were destroyed and luckily only one of Regensburg’s most important cultural buildings was lost and never rebuilt. Otherwise, the entire town is still in its original state and is protected by a law which saves cultural buildings in Germany. Therefore, Regensburg and it’s entire city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site!
What To See
The Regensburger Dom (Cathedral)
Also known as Dom. St. Peter dominates the center of the Altstadt (Old Town). It was originally built to look like the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, but King Ludwig I of Bavaria commissioned the cathedral to add spires and was completed in 1872 after nearly 600 years of construction! The stained glass windows are still originals from the 13 and 14th centuries.
My favorite place in all of Regensburg is one of the most popular tourist hotspots. Directly in front of the Dom are several café shops and an ice cream shop. I love spending a beautiful day sitting outside and looking up at this big, beautiful, gargantuan cathedral and look at the differences between the left and the right side while sipping on a Café Latte with Baileys. Nothing makes for a better afternoon!
To the left of the Dom (not in the direction of the river), you will come to Neupfarrplatz which is dominated by another small church in the square called the Neupfarrkirche. It is here, around the entire church that the Christmas market is predominantly built and people gather to sip of gluhwein. However, the secret to this square is the large, out-of-place, 70’s style cement building which houses the Galleria Kaufhof. Once inside, take the elevator all the way to the top floor for an amazing and FREE view of the beautiful square and of the Regensburg Cathedral!
The Old Chapel (Alte Kapelle)
This is a Marian collegiate church which has been remodeled several times and contains some of the most stunning Rococo stuccoes in Regensburg. However, you won’t be able to walk around the chapel as it is fenced off on the inside, so you’ll have to admire it from behind the iron gate. The defining characteristics of the Old Chapel is the gold leaf – everywhere. Located behind the Regensburg Cathedral, there is often a Saturday Farmer’s Market in the parking lot.
The Stone Bridge
Just a around the corner from the cathedral, you can walk down to the Donau (Danube) River and have a fantastic view of the Steinerne Brücke (Stone Bridge). At one end of the bridge, you’ll find a the Bridge Museum and UNESCO World Heritage Visitor Center.
There is a legend that the Bruckmandl, who built the bridge, made a bet with the Master builder of the cathedral as to who would finish first. Seeing that the cathedral was making far more progress than the bridge, the Bruckmandl made a deal with the devil so that he could finish the bridge before the cathedral was finished. The devil agreed to help him but promised that the first three souls to cross the bridge would die. The Master builder of the cathedral was so over come with despair he jumped from the top of the cathedral. On the day the bridge was to be inaugurated, before the devil could collect his three souls, the Bruckmandl shooed two birds and a dog. The devil was so enraged that he tried to destroy the bridge, which would explain its crooked shape.
The Historical Wurstküchl Sausage Kitchen
From the Altstadt, you will walk over the bridge by first walking under the tower. For more than 800 years, the Stone Bridge was the only way to cross the Donau until 1930.
Also by the river is the historical Wurstküchl which dates back hundreds of years. Here you can enjoy a delicious sauerkraut with bratwurst and drink a good beer while looking at the Stone Bridge and the Danube river. The kitchen was built in order to cater to the workers who were building the bridge and has been around for 900 years.
The Goliath House (Goliathhaus)
Built in 1260, is considered one of the most well-known landmarks of Regensburg with its painting of David and Goliath done in 1573. Theology students were called Goliards as their guardian angel was called Golias. It is believed that the present Goliath house was built on the location of the quarters in which these traveling theology students often stayed during the 12th century. Not far from the Goliathhaus, you will find the Altes Rathaus (Old City Hall).
Altes Rathaus & Haidplatz
Just beyond the Altes Rathaus is Haidplatz which is another main area of Regensburg popular for all the different types of restaurants with endless rows of tables outside to enjoy the beauty of this square. Every building in this square in unique in it’s own right with a water fountain in the center to top off the glory of this part of town. It’s here that another large part of the Christmas market sets up.
Thurn & Taxis Palace
Regensburg is also home to the Thurn and Taxis Palace which is also known as the St. Emmeram’s Abbey. In 1812 the monastic buildings were granted to the Princes of Thurn and Taxis, who had St. Emmeram’s Abbey converted as a residence known from then on as Schloss. The St. Emmeram Abbey is a hidden treasure in Regensburg with beautiful stucco and lavish gold throughout the church. But you have to stand behind a metal gate in order to get a view of the church.
The Thurn and Taxis is a noble family which played a large part in the postal service of Europe during the 16th century. The castle is also home to the Fürstliche Brauerei Thurn und Taxis which was owned by the family until they sold it. The Thurn and Taxis family is still one of the wealthiest families in Germany. They also host a beautiful Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) during the Christmas season and the Princess Gloria participates in the festivals.
The Towers of Regensburg
You pass numerous towers, symbols of that time, when that town belonged to the wealthiest metropolises of Europe. The most impressive one of these towers is the Golden Tower, which rises up to 50 m with nine floors. They say that wealthy patrician families competed against each other to see who would be able to build the highest tower of the city.
On the other end of the Steinerne Brucke (Stone Bridge), you will find a small island Stadtamhof with a main street of colorful rainbows with a beautiful view of Dreifaltigkeitskirche up on the hill overlooking Stadtamhof. Along the banks of the river, people love to lay out on the grassy weise on sunny days and BBQ or hang out with their hookah bongs. There is also another beautiful church which overlooks a portion of the grassy lawn.
Two of my favorite beer gardens in Regensburg which offer the best views of the cathedral and bridge are both tourist hotspots. These include two of the best beer gardens in Regensburg called the Alte Linde and Spital. Both offer a great view of the river and the city center and they are worth the wait.
For some good local food in Regensburg, I suggest eating at any of the following restaurants which are my favorites:
- Alte Linde Müllerstrasse 1 (Biergarten)
- Spital Garten, St Katharinenplatz 1 (Biergarten)
- Kneitinger – Kreuzgasse 7 (Brewery)
- Weltenburger am Dom, Domplatz 3 (German/Biergarten)****
- Hemingway’s Obere Bachgasse 3-5 (American)
- Sam Kullman’s Diner, Friedenstraße 10 (American)
- Tokyo Kyoto, Ludwigstr. 7 (Running Sushi Bar)
- Spaghetteria, Am Römling 12 (Italian)
Cool bars to check out:
- Hinterhaus – Rote-Hahnen-Gasse 2 (German)
- Irish Harp – Brückstraße 1 (Irish)
- Zur geflickten Trommel – Gesandtenstraße 2 (Medieval)
- Murphy’s Law – Spiegelgasse 6 (Irish)
Regensburg is far more romantic by night, especially as you stroll along the many bridges that cross between the city center and Stadtamhof!
If you’re interested in visiting Germany and are looking for more information, I highly recommend using the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide! Without these guides, I would be lost! This is my travel Bible!
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