Regensburg, in the heart of Bavaria and declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 2006, is a real gem!
Its 142,000+ residents, its lively, and energetic town complete with beautiful medieval buildings, its architectural heritage, its ancient Steinerne Brücke (Stone Bridge) which carried traders and tourists alike across the Danube since the 1100s, its large University of 23,000+ students, its beautiful Cathedral (which according to the local tourist information hand-out: ‘When you look up towards the spires of this imposing Gothic building, you will see kings on horseback, foolish virgins, and gargoyles with animal and human faces’), the far less imposing collegiate Roman church of Our Dear Lady of the Old Chapel which from the outside is rather plain, but inside, houses an organ, which was blessed by Pope Benedict XVI during his 2006 visit to Regensburg – making it the only organ which has been blessed by the Pope in person… and so the list goes on!
Arriving by train from Nuremberg (just 1 hour by train) was a gentle way to visit this pretty town. After a short walk past the bright yellow Park Hotel Maximilian (named for the previous kings of Bavaria), you immediately find yourself walking along small narrow streets, with tall colourful towers, tall medieval houses, gothic churches and as my visit was just a few days before Christmas, a thriving Christmas Market. It was a chilly day, (-4 degrees C) but was good to be able to wander around discovering decorations and gifts, with many stalls selling warming drinks and food. The Altstadt – old town – is very clean, visitor friendly and thankfully free from industry, as strict laws passed in the 1970’s ensure its protection.
Crossing over the River Danube on a little footbridge it is hard not to notice myriads of colourful of ‘I Love You’ padlocks, which I must admit brought a smile to my face. I wonder what secrets this great river holds in its depths, once a place of trade, now a place of romance. Standing here is the best place to view the Romanesque arch stone bridge known as the Steinerne Brücke. Wonderful views of Regensburg can be seen when walking across this famous stone bridge, which incidentally is the second oldest bridge in Germany, and is a masterpiece of medieval engineering – it has 16 supporting arches, a total length of 330 metres and took 10 years to build. It was finally finished in 1147. St Peters Cathedral rises majestically above the skyline creating a striking juxtaposition of French Gothic architecture and colourful medieval homes.
By the way… if Steffi and David or Kerstin and Olli are still together – do get in touch!
As you leave the stone bridge, you cannot help but notice the smell of sausages!!! Wurstkuchl (touted as the oldest sausage tavern in the world) dates back to The Late Middle Ages. These bratwurst sausages are made to a secret recipe which it is said not to have changed in over 500 years.
The sausages (as you can see from my photo) are still cooked over the old charcoal fired grill and served with a traditional sweet brown mustard (an original creation of Elsa Schricker, who bought the place in the 18th Century). It is still owned by the Schricker family to this day. These wonderful tasty delights continue to be shipped worldwide. http://www.wurstkuchl.de/tavern.html
It is here that you suddenly realise, Regensburg really is VERY old. A piece of history stands in front of you. The stones, clear, defined, and definitely demand ones attention! The Castra Regina, a Roman camp built on the Danube, is the first settlement in Regesnburg to be built by the Romans in just 170. The city wall, which surrounded the camp was 2km long x 8m high x 2m wide. The wall was fortified with 30 towers and 4 gates. The North Gate and Tower still remain today. Standing and looking at this piece of history was simply awesome!
Dusk was falling, (so too was the temperature), but there was yet one more place to visit. The Palace. This former Abbey and Benedictine monastery in Regensburg, St. Emmeram has been owned by the Thurn und Taxis family since 1812. The royal family moved to Regensburg in 1748. After the old empire was dissolved, Prince Karl Alexander received this stunning monastery as partial compensation for the rights to the Bavarian postal system.
During the 19th century, building works began, rooms were added on and altered to create one of the largest private residences in Europe. The museum area of the castle, the cloisters, the royal stables and treasure chamber show an incredible insight to 1000 years of monastery tradition, as well as 500 years of history to of one of the most important royalties in Europe! Incidentally the royal stables, (which were originally constructed in 1827), are now home to the Carriage Museum with over 70 vehicles and carriages, and it is the last remaining Royal Fleet in the world.
H.H. Princess Gloria Von Thurn und Taxis (born in 1960) married Prince Johanne Von Thurn und Taxis in 1980 and in the same year their first child Princess Maria Thereisa was born, Princess Elisabeth was born in 1982 and finally Prince Albert in 1983. Sadly Prince Johannes died young in 1990 and so Princess Gloria took over this widely diverse enterprise in a modern and somewhat energetic way; including the preservation and care of the cultural heritage of the Thurn und Taxis family, leading the Palace Music Festival each summer which draws over 30,000 annually, the new Carriage Museum, and the beautiful Christmas Market – which was next on my list to visit!
This beautiful setting for a Christmas Market is a must see. Princess Gloria’s reputation often precedes her; but she has turned her talents and energy into a pleasing and vibrant Christmas spectacular event.
Video of Princess Gloria taken from her website: http://www.thurnundtaxis.de/en/events/christmas-market/impressions.html
To learn more about Princess Gloria Von Thurn und Taxis -affectionately known as ‘Princess TNT, the dynamite socialite’ as described by Vanity Fair Magazine 2006 – please click on this link: http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2006/06/princesstnt200606
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