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A brief visit to Regensburg

Published Wed 10 October 2007 11:39 (+0200)
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So having taken the train in the previous afternoon, I'm in Regensburg.

I had actually planned to stay here for 4 days, enjoying settling down in one place for a bit so I could appreciate the atmosphere a bit more (plus use it as a base for seeing other towns in the area).

Unfortunately, the tourist office dropped the ball on this one – for once, I got them to organise somewhere to stay, instead of doing it myself (because I was hoping they could hook me up with a ‘private room’, what NZers would call a B&B – but nope), and that turned out to be a bad move; they lost track of it over the weekend, and by the time I realised that'd happened, there was no hotel available for the second night.

So screw it, on to plan B, which I'll get to in a minute. Meantime, I've got a brief day in Regensburg, so went out for a bit of sightseeing.

Regensburg was significant mainly because it occupied a good location over the Danube, forming one of the better crossing points for commerce in the wider region, resulting in a healthy economy and development of the town.

Nowadays, it's significant as a well-preserved old German town, which makes it a popular stop for tourists who want something a bit less commercialised than the Romantic Road places.

The altstadt (old town) is quite compact so you can easily walk around everything, but being short on time, I took one of the little tourist tram/bus tour things, which was ok. A little of the information in the audio track turned out to be bogus though (about Kepler, specifically – according to the museum I visited later), which is annoying. Still, gave a good overview of what was there.

The Cathedral

Regensburg Cathedral
Regensburg Cathedral
Chapel in the Regensburg Cathedral
Chapel in the Regensburg Cathedral
Painted window in the Regensburg Cathedral
Painted window in the Regensburg Cathedral

After the tour I went back to the Cathedral and spent a while looking around it. Also sat in on my first service in many many years!

The Cathedral is a pretty decent size and stands as one of the better examples of Gothic architecture in Bavaria. I found the inside had a more spacious, airy feeling, which was a welcome change after the imposing Gothic churches we'd been to in the Czech Republic and the cluttered Baroque churches everywhere.

The Steinerne Brücke

The Steinerne Brücke over the Danube
The Steinerne Brücke over the Danube

Perhaps the next most important site in the town is the bridge leading over the epic Donau (Danube) river, the Steinerne Brücke.

This was built way back in the 12th century, and at the time it was the only safe, fortified crossing of the river, which brought considerable value to the town as a trading hub, particularly on the routes between Northern Europe and places like Venice.

The bridge has lasted thanks largely to the whopping great pier supports, though that has meant the current between them is very fast as the river water is now squished into only a third of the space, so you wouldn't want to be too casual about taking a boat down there!

Prestige towers in the Altstadt

Winner of the biggest-tower competition, Regensburg
Winner of the biggest-tower competition, Regensburg

This tower is, as far as I could find, the Regensburg winner of one of those lame ego competition that the families in such towns used to engage in – building basically-pointless tall towers, each taller than those of other families, in an attempt to demonstrate their own family's prestige.

It's like a Klaus Teuber board game…

The Kepler Museum

Bust of Johannes Kepler
Bust of Johannes Kepler
Calendar in the Kepler Museum
Calendar in the Kepler Museum
Postscriptum Dr. Ludwig Keplers
Postscriptum Dr. Ludwig Keplers

The other place I spent a while at was the Kepler Museum. Johannes Kepler was a 16th-17th century astronomer who developed under the similarly-legendary Tycho Brahe and later and later went on to make crucial contributions to the understanding of how the planets orbit.

However while he certainly made an impressive follow-on from Brahe in his work, his life was not so successfully in all respects; whereas Brahe became one of the richest civilians of his time and enjoyed considerable security, Kepler spent much of his life separated from his families in an attempt to insulate them from the political-religious conflicts of the time, and got a pretty raw deal during his time working for the emporer, going unpaid for many years – his widow spent many of hers after his death chasing around the country trying to get the monarch to pay up, and failed, dying penniless not long after.

Just as sadly, Kepler also does not have a story about tame moose on his Wikipedia page.

Today, we tend to view the contributions of Brahe's observations and Kepler's theories together, and they constitute a crucial phase of development of our understanding of astronomy.

I enjoyed visiting the museum, but I couldn't generally recommend it to others unless they can read German (which I can't); almost all of the material was in German only and of course that reduced how much I could get out of the things on display.

The best würst

The best würst?
The best würst?

My final stop for the day was back by the bridge, at the Historische Würstküche (historic sausage kitchen), where Regensburg makes its claim to having the best würst in the country.

I realised something eating there. If you try the würst alone, they don't seem that special. The sauerkraut wouldn't excite anyone. The sweet mustard is pretty good, but alone, it wouldn't blow your mind either. But put the three of them together, and it's really quite tasty!

My guidebook tells me these würst

“are regarded by many aficionados as the ultimate German Wurst – though this is not an opinion shared by the rival sausage metropolis of Nürnberg.”

Rival sausage metropolis.

That's about it

So, with hotel arrangements failed, that's all for Regensburg (the bulk of my photos are all grey and miserable thanks to the weather, the Wikipedia page has some more enticing ones).

Off to the trains!