june 16, 2015
Regensburg – From Roman Outpost to the Chicago of Central Europe
Regensburg sits on the south bank of the Danube River. It position on this major waterway has made it an important city since Roman times. The Romans established an outpost here in around 80 AD but were soon chased out by the local tribes. Being Roman, they returned under the leadership of Marcus Aurelius. Good thing that Marcus had Russell Crowe to help him out to establish a permanent Roman settlement called Castra Regina. It anchored the Danube border until the collapse of the west in the Fifth Century.
Let me go back a few hours to Bamburg. The town was scenic but not the hard core German thing that I was anticipating. Our hotel was some 500 years old albeit remodeled in the 1990s. It didn’t fall down so I shouldn’t look for rickety places to stay even though the are more atmospheric. But leaving this morning was almost too full of medieval ambiance. The garage pictures show the maneuvering to extract our smallish car. I don’t think they had cars in 1774 when they built the garage. We managed and then needed to follow a garbage truck through an alley for 10 minutes.
Kayaking in Bamburg
We escaped Bamburg and the trip to Regensburg was uneventful. Tom took us right to the hotel where we double parked in the middle of several hundred tourists. We are directly in front of the Dom or cathedral. We easily found the parking garage after depositing our bags in the lobby. The hotel location is almost too unbelievable.
Kia looking for Misha
Found some picnic supplies and started our tour of the sights beginning with the Dom which was started in 1273 but not finished until the 19th Century with financial help from Ludwig the Mad of Bavaria. The church is almost pure German Gothic. That is amazing since its construction spanned 6 centuries. I enjoyed the excellent Gothic sculptures and even the cleaning crew on their lift were fun to watch. We even found our dog Kia immortalized on the front.
From the Dom we walked a few blocks to the 13th century stone bridge. It was built in time for the 2nd and 3rd crusaders to use. At that time Regensberg was the second largest city north of Alps after Cologne. Fifteen thousand folks huddled by the walls that have now disappeared. The town owed its prominance to its location on the crossroads between the Slavs to the east, the Greeks in Constantinople to the southeast and the rest of Charlemagne’s empire to the west and north. Charlemage lived here for a while but the place was already a booming piece of real estate. Regensberg was the terminus of the Silk Road north of the Alps and was on the main route to Italy and its wealth.
While a bishopric was established in 739, it had to wait until 1245 to become a free imperial city. Of course, the local city council had no say over the vast holdings of the church or the imperial properties. Nonetheless, the place survived as one of the most important cities in Central Europe until the emerging Atlantic trade routes weakened its commercial position. It had to rely on the salt trade. We toured the huge salt warehouse with its gigantic timbers as part of our quest to climb the last remaining tower guarding the bridge over the Danube. Yes, there were creaky 700 year old stairs but there were not too many.
We wandered around the old town streets that were all within a few blocks of our hotel. Many of merchant families did what their contemporaries in Italy were doing. They would build these tall towers to house their merchandise and fortify their families. It reminded me of San Gimiagno south of Florence. The most famous is called the Goliath with a 18th Century mural that ends up naming the street. The old town hall was worth a gander and I found a bench to await jury duty. We also found the distinctive remnants of the walls built to protect the Roman Praetorian garrison.
In 1995, archeologists excavated a medieval Synagogue which had been destroyed shorty after the Protestant Reformation that swept through this region of Germany. The Jews were forced to convert or be expelled. The Jewish population had suffered pogroms during the Balck Death. The final insult was Kristalnacht when the remaining Synagogue was destroyed in 1938. There are small memorials to,these events including a sign on the house occupied by Oskar Schindler from 1945 to 1950.
We finally got Peggy an ice cream fix. We have had a few comes on the run. We finally did the German Farrell’s thing and had an obnoxiously big Sundae. We were just like the dozens of German tourists doing the same thing. Speaking of tourists, we saw numerous Viking Cruise Line tour groups. We smiled since we know people who will soon be doing the same thing. At least in Germany the Viking groups do not stand out like we did in China.
I am determined to go to the waterfront Wurstkuckl where Bilbo Baggins could be ordering his beer. I need to hope this ice cream stuffing will go away.
Viking tour group
Roman wall on the bottom
Peggy made me do it
All in all this a fine way to end our palaces and cathedrals portion of the trip. We will be in the Alps tomorrow. Peggy keeps looking at the Lederhosen. I hope she is not holding her breath.