More Travel Tips: Destination Regensburg

Since someone rightly pointed out that some of my travel tips are rather Bavaria-oriented, I thought I'd make my Bavarian slant obvious by posting about the city where I live.

Regensburg is a relatively large city for Germany, around 160k people. It sits at the northern-most point of the Danube. It was founded, as were many European cities, as a Roman outpost. The old Roman wall still exists in places, and one can even see the original gate and watch tower. In the middle ages, Regensburg became important because of its position on the Danube, from which river traffic could be controlled. Later, as politics and trade shifted, Regensburg was left as a provincial backwater, more or less forgotten. During World War II, the city father of Regensburg cut a deal with the Allies. He showed them where to find their targets, and they promised not to bomb the city itself. In the end, the Allies destroyed the Messerschmidt plant, the Nazis executed the city father, and Regensburg was spared from being a casualty of war.

The fact that Regensburg has been sitting forgotten in the middle of the Bavarian Forest is a big reason for the city's appeal. The Altstadt (city center or "old city") remains in much the same state it was in a few hundred years ago. The streets are very narrow, and many are cobblestone. Regensburg is often called the northernmost city in Italy because it's quaint streets would be right at home in Tuscany.

In the Altstadt one will find Regensburg's two best attractions: the cathedral and the stone bridge. They were both built at approximately the same time, somewhere around the 1200's. The cathedral is very gothic, with two large towers covered in little gothic doodads. If you've been to Cologne, imagine that cathedral in miniature. The stone bridge (Steinenerbrucke) is a glorious testimony to building things that last. It's still in use today, about 800 years later. It is easily 5 meters across and a couple hundred meters long. It's one of those things that I never get tired of seeing. Everytime I see it I am impressed.

Outside of the city, there are a few interesting things scattered here and there. Just to the east of the city is Valhalla (Wahalla). It is monument to German intellectual giants. Inside there are busts of the greatest German thinkers, including Wagner, Bohr, Plank, etc. Every few years (five, I think) a council convenes and votes on who the newest addition will be.

Also just east of the city is the BMW plant. It's huge! That's where they make the new 1 series. I'm told that tours aren't all that hard to arrange, and one can even purchase extreme driving training there.

Don't forget the Danube itself. There are boat tours that go in both directions the range anywhere from a couple hours to a couple weeks.

And don't forget the beer. Bavaria is home to some outstanding beers. It seems like every village has it's own brew. Regensburg has three: Kneitinger, Bischofshof, and Turn & Taxis. Turn & Taxis was the wealthiest family in Regensburg for a while, and not because of the beer. Somewhere along the way, one of them invented the post office. Not just the one in Regensburg, but the whole idea of sending stuff by post. They made a mint from the world's first general stuff delivery service. Their palace is in Regensburg and can be toured.

That's probably long-winded enough. If you're into cute, Regensburg is hard to beat.

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