Regensburg: Germany’s mediaeval miracle

By | Category: Travel destinations

Neupfarrkirche

Most readers might be tempted to ask one question. Where? And if you need to do that, then you have a clue as to why we are writing about it. But for a weekend or shortbreak you can hardly do better. Hardly known in the UK most of us will be unaware of a mediaeval city that has UNESCO World Heritage status, has a month long Christmas market, has boat trips down the Danube, New Year’s Eve and Day concerts and has pretty good beer as well.

For a start Regensburg is easy to get to. Lots of UK cities have flights to Munich and from there it is just an hour by coach, shorter by hire car. When you arrive, the tourist office is open 365 days of the year from 10am till 7pm which is a real bonus compared to some of the times that our tourist offices keep! And secondly most of the tours are in English as is their website and publications. So, those are the basics. Now what is there to see and do?
Regensburg calls itself “Germany’s mediaeval miracle” because, over the centuries, it has managed to maintain its narrow streets, traditional squares, tiny shops and centuries old markets. But as Christmas looms, this is an ideal time to explore and spend a short break there. Not content with having nineteen museums there are numerous private galleries as well. You could argue that most of the city is a museum so wherever you go, there will be something to see. And without having to send money on taxis or hire-cars once you’re there.

Not many choirs are 1,000 years old. In fact none are other than the Domspatzen, Regensburg’s boys’ choir which sings every Sunday in St. Peter’s Cathedral. But at Christmas they perform special concerts on four days in December which are wildly popular. If you plan on going get there early.

Four markets take place in the run up to Christmas. Near the cathedral in the Neupfarrplatz is the biggest which certainly goes back over 220 years. It is a traditional Bavarian market, the sort of thing that we increasingly see over here. The difference is that it is bigger, is the real thing and has the spectacular backdrop of the cathedral (itself a bit of a surprise as it is in the French style rather than a German one) It begins on November 24th and runs until late in the evening each day.

At the Thurn and Taxis Palace, (formerly St Emmeram’s Abbey that backdrop provides a rival to Neupfarrplatz as a sight to behold. There is yet another in the Spital beer Garden on the other side of the River Danube and, finally, there is a specialist craft one in the Haidplatz.

While you’re in Regensburg a visit to the newly opened visitor’s centre which only opened in May will be worthwhile. Not only does it give a good background to the city before you venture out, it will you define the things you want to see. There is so much to see that some prioritising will help. The centre is in an old seventeenth century salt storage silo and is open free, every day, from 10am-5pm.

But you ought to see the medieval stone bridge, the oldest of its type in Germany, the Roman north gate built by Marcus Aurelius and the strange copy of the Greek Parthenon that was built by King Ludwig to revere German heroes. (This wasn’t “mad” King Ludwig who built the picture book castles but his grandfather) It is just 12 miles away and easily visited. And if you have time, a boat trip down the Danube will give you a different perspective on the city that you see on foot. At Christmas, the trip includes mulled wine and stollen and if you go on New Year’s Eve a buffet is provided as well.

 

For more information, click here.

Image courtsey of Regensburg Tourismus GmbH.

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