The Unexpected Pleasures of Medieval Regensburg

The Danube and Regensburg's Stone Bridge

The Danube and Regensburg’s Stone Bridge / photo: Regensburg Tourismus GmbH

by Donna Manz

I knew little about the 2,000-year-old city of Regensburg, Germany when I boarded the River Countess for a cruise along Germany’s Main and Danube rivers.  Only that it is a medieval city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the first stop on Uniworld’s Danube Discovery itinerary.  But what a discovery I was about to make.

View of Regensburg

The Danube at Regensburg / photo: joiseyshowaa

During the night, the Countess had cruised from Nuremberg to Regensburg and when we awoke on that November morning it was like a fairytale.

My daughter-in-law Gisele, awake and about before me, woke me up with an expression of amazement and joy.  “Look …. look,” she said, as she opened the drapes. Our ship had docked near the altstadt, the old town, and I looked out from my bed and saw the streets and spires of the medieval town slowly being covered by gently falling snowflakes.

Snowy bridge in Regensburg

photo: Regensburg Tourismus GmbH

While the itinerary’s walking tour had its appeal, later that morning Gisele and I decided to explore the town on our own. Leaving the ship we turned toward the altstadt at the old Stone Bridge, a 12th-century Regensburg icon.

We soon came upon the aptly named, Historische Wurtsküche, the Historic Sausage Kitchen, a 1,000-year-old sausage kitchen and restaurant. It’s the oldest sausage kitchen in Europe (people in Regensburg claim it’s the oldest in the world) and regardless of the time of day the spicy aroma of its sausages permeates the air in the streets surrounding it.

Regensburg

photo: Regensburg Tourismus GmbH

There was always a crowd at the restaurant and we figured we would have no trouble finding delicious sausage options elsewhere in Regensburg. We were right, for throughout the altstadt we found a number of bustling beer and wurst restaurants, some with their own brewing equipment in-house.

On the main platz in an historic building we found a department store, Kaufhof, part of a German nationwide chain.  It sold everything from clothing and toys, to food and drink.  On the lower level was the grocery store, laden with beer, wine, mustards, canned goods and a huge variety of meats and potato chips, unlike any I’ve ever seen before.  I brought home goulash soup and potato soups to get me through the winter.

Regensburg

photo: Regensburg Tourismus GmbH

Because of its 2,000 year-old history — preserved since Regensburg did not suffer from allied strikes during World War II — Regensburg remains a jewel-like city. The old town sparkles with history and awe-inspiring architecture, from the quaint town square to the magnificent churches with their towering spires.

It has numerous platz, pedestrian town squares, all bordered by buildings that reflect the era in which they were constructed, and narrow pedestrian streets, alleyways really, zigzag through the old town.

Regensburg

photo: Regensburg Tourismus GmbH

The shopkeepers in the altstadt are friendly and accommodating, just what you’d expect to find in a small town. When Gisele could not get her international phone card, which she bought in a little tobacco shop, to work, the shop owner used her own landline to connect her to her mother in Brazil.  Even the waitstaff in restaurants, who may speak little English, will try to describe a dish, even if it means showing you a plate of it.

Regensburg offers many visual and emotional surprises and, despite it being small and compact, we got lost (surprise!) many times wandering through its old town.  But it’s that wandering aimlessly in foreign towns, I’ve discovered over the years, that never fails to unveil an unexpected treasure here and there.

Regensburg

photo: Regensburg Tourismus GmbH

Down one little alleyway, I noticed a plaque on the exterior wall that turned out to be another of those unexpected treasures.  As we neared it, I was struck by the name on the plaque, Oskar Schindler.  Written in German, a language I’m quite limited in, the plaque described Schindler’s refuge in Regensburg shortly after World War II ended.

There are 1,200 historic buildings in Regensburg and, if it takes ten more trips there to do so, I want to see them all.

If you go:

Regensburg Tourist Board
Altes Rathaus, Rathausplatz 4,
93047 Regensburg
Germany
Tel.:+ 49 941 507-4410
http://www.regensburg.de/sixcms/detail.php/3854

Uniworld River Cruises
www.uniworld.com/

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

sandy gerner May 30, 2012 at 11:35 am

great article and photos, donna…i have never been to this beautiful city, but certainly want to include it in any future trip to germany… thanks for your introduction!

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Donna Manz May 30, 2012 at 1:28 pm

I can’t take credit for the photos, though … but, Regensburg is so beautiful, even ***** I **** would be able to show it at its best (and I’m the world’s worst photographer).
If you love Rothenburg, you will love Regensburg. Travel often, travel safely.

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Donna Manz May 30, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Note from author: I was not aware that “Regensburg” was the “winning answer in last week’s National Geographic Geography Bee, so, to all of you who commented on that on my Facebook page, I thank you! I learn something from my readers every day …

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Julie Kupersmith May 30, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Great article. It made me want to visit Regensburg!! I could smell and taste the food, for one thing. Additionally, I do love history, and the plaque relating to Schindler was interesting to me!!

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Carla Marie Rupp May 30, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Donna, I am so glad that Regensburg was preserved and such a great place to visit. I’d love to go someday, too. That’s really fun that you brought home some of the good food, such as goulash and potato soup! Did you enjoy it?

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Donna Manz May 30, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Carla: I STILL have some potato soups left!!! My bags come close to the limit when I return from a European trip … between cans of soups, jars of mustards, bottles of wine and beer and coffee, I am REALLY weighed down!
Someone commented on my Facebook page that she had been on a Uniworld Christmas markets cruise that stopped in Regensburg in December, 2010. That is the river cruise I will be on starting Dec. 8. If anyone is interested, let me know! It would be so much fun to have a group together. I love river cruising ….

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Pat B. May 30, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Donna, thanks for a wonderful article. I had the good fortune to visit Regensburg in December 2010. I was sailing with Uniworld on one of their Christmas market cruises. I had never heard of Regensburg until my visit there….what an amazing town! I can’t wait to visit there again in November.

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Donna Manz May 30, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Pat,

Let me know which river cruise you will be on!!! Maybe, we can meet up ….

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Pat B. May 30, 2012 at 9:51 pm

Donna,

Unfortunately, I am not doing a River Cruise this year. However, I am meeting up with a few of my new friends from last years Uniworld cruise in Munich. We plan to hit some of the Christmas markets in the surrounding area via the train.

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Julie May 30, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Super article Donna, really brings a nice perspective on a great, lesser known city

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Kim Peele June 1, 2012 at 8:22 am

Great article, Donna! You have made me really want to take a river cruise!

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Lynne Evans June 3, 2012 at 7:08 am

Great article. Having traveled on river baroness with uniworld know the delight of waking and opening the curtain to a storybook scene. Les Andelys has an ancient castle; swans/ducks and a picture perfect scene when you through open that curtain…sheer delight. Paris to Normandy with uniworld highly recommend. Keep traveling everyone.

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Donna Manz June 4, 2012 at 1:16 pm

ah, yes, Lynne … the Seine Paris/Normandy itinerary!!!! I loved it …. there is nothing like seeing history or watching small-town life as you cruise down a great European waterway. River cruising is addictive; I can’t go more than a few months without one! Should you ever be interested in yet another Uniworld river cruise, let me know …. I am always up for one! Warmly, Donna

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