23 September – 24 September 2019 Regensburg – Augsburg
Regensburg is about 195 kilometres from Salzburg on the Danube River in southeast Germany. Because Regensburg was not bombed during World War II, it is the best-preserved medieval city in Germany and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After parking the motorhome along the banks of the Danube we walked over the bridge and into the town.
The sights we saw whilst strolling along the banks of the Danube and the streets of Regensburg:
Villapark extends right along the bank of the Danube in the furthest eastern corner of Regensburg Old City. This park acquired its name from the royal villa of King Maximilian II of Bavaria, who built the villa in this park as his summer residence in the middle of the nineteenth century. Today the former royal villa belongs to the Bavarian state and is a lovely place to wander through.
The Stone Bridge (Steinerne Brücke) is a 12th century bridge across the River Danube linking the Old Town with Stadtamhof, which used to be an independent town but was incorporated into the city of Regensburg in 1924. For more than 800 years, until the 1930s, it was the city’s only bridge across the river. Today, the bridge is solely for pedestrians. The stone bridge with its 16 arches is a remarkable piece of medieval construction, especially for the time, with fantastic views of the Danube and its banks.
South Tower (Old City’s Gate Tower) is the only surviving tower of the bridge’s three towers. The first South Tower constructed in 1300 was built beside St. Margaret’s Chapel. When the chapel was converted into a prison for debtors in the 16th century, the tower became known as the Debt Tower. The South tower was destroyed in the Thirty Years War by Swedish invaders who set fire to it. It was reconstructed in 1648 with the clock, which can be seen to this day.
Goliathhaus (The Goliath House) is the largest city mansion in Regensburg, built in 1260 on the northern outside wall of the old Roman fort. On the facade is a painting depicting the fight between David and Goliath from the year 1573. As you walk through the streets your eyes are automatically drawn to this huge, impressive painting.
The Rathausplatz and the Old Town Hall was first built in the 13th century in the central market, the most ancient part of Regensburg. After a variety of additions and conversions, it is a complex consisting of three buildings, the town hall tower and subsequent palace, town hall and the Reichssaal, which is where the first German Parliament. The buildings are quite striking, and you can see why it is the essence of the UNESCO world heritage Site.
Baumberger Turm is a seven story Baumburg tower and would have to be one of the most beautiful patrician towers of the Middle Ages. It was built around 1270 and is 28 metres in height.
Oskar Schindler’s House
Oskar Schindler was a German industrialist and a member of the Nazi Party is who credited with saving the lives of 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his enamelware and ammunition factories. He is the subject of the 1982 novel Schindler’s Ark, which was made into a movie entitled Schindler’s List. He lived in Regensburg for years, and today one of his houses bears a plaque to his achievements.
Porta Praetoria is an ancient arched gate that survives as a reminder of Regensburg’s Roman heritage. The stone gate was built by Emperor Marcus Aurelius on 179 AD.
After walking around Regensburg, we decided to visit the World Heritage Site Centre. We obtained an audio guide and leisurely made our way through the collection.
The World Heritage Site Centre is located in the historic Salt Barn (Salzstadel), which was erected between 1616 and 1620. Until the late 19th century, the building was used for the storage of salt. The World Heritage Centre exhibition traces the development of Regensburg from a Roman camp to a modern city. Over two floors there are exhibits and objects displayed which cover 2000 years of history. One of the fascinating items was the Rothenburg currency from the 14th century, which was the most commonly used coins in Bavaria and imitated by many other mints. A great small museum which highlighted the importance of Regensburg as a trading centre.
We then had dinner at Wurstkuchl (historic sausage kitchen) which is right next to the Stone Bridge. For nearly 900 years, this kitchen has been serving homemade sausages. Back in the Middle Ages, dock workers and stonemasons would take a break from building the bridge to have a meal here. Tonight, we had a meal of 6 sausages and sauerkraut, which was absolutely delicious.
After dinner we headed back to the cathedral for the light show.
Regensburg Cathedral (St. Peter’s Cathedral), was built in the 13th century, replacing earlier churches that occupied this site in the heart of the Old Town. The cathedral had no spires for more than 350 years until 1869. This year marks 150 years since the completion of the cathedral towers and to celebrate this they have a spectacular light performance, Illumination of Door (‘La Cathedrale Magique’) from 22 to 28 September.
The west facade of St. Peter’s Cathedral was lit three times each night during this period. We were lucky enough to witness this show. Through the staging, sculptures, pinnacles and architectural details appeared in a new, mystical light, accompanied by music and a narrative. The light show told the story of the construction of the cathedral, the fires, the exhausting reconstruction period and finally the completion with the construction of the two cathedral towers. It lasted 15 minutes and the colours of the illumination, along with the music and story was a spectacle to behold. It was a poetic, wonderful and unique experience.
Walking around the narrow, winding lanes of the old quarter, which is mainly pedestrianised was a lovely way to see Regensburg.
The next day we drove to Augsburg.
Augsburg is about 160 kilometres from Regensburg. The town was founded in 15 BC by the Romans and named after the Roman emperor Augustus. It was Free Imperial City from 1276 to 1803 and home to the patrician Fugger and Wesler families that dominated European banking in the 16th century. Augsburg is Germany’s third oldest city.
Our main reason for coming to Augsburg was to visit the Fuggerei, the oldest social housing complex in the world, founded in 1513 by Jakob Fugger. After parking the motorhome, we walked into town passing a few historical sites on the way to the Fuggerei.
Rathaus (The Town Hall) is the administrative centre of Augsburg, completed in 1620. For the time it was a pioneering performance being the first building in the world with more than six storeys. On the large gable are two noticeable ornament: the first is the Reichsadler (Imperial Eagle of the Holy Roman Empire), representing the towns importance and the second is the large copper pinecone (Zirbelnuss) which is the symbol of Augsburg.
Perlachturm is a 70-metre-tall tower, which was originally built as a watchtower in the 10th century and is now part of the City Hall. On the tower is Turamichele (Tower Michael), a moving mechanical figure which shows Archangel Michael fighting the devil. Every year on St. Michael’s Day, the Turamichele appears in the window on the west side of the tower and today, as it just so happens, was the day! This would also explain why at 12 o’clock people in the square let green, white and red balloons float into the air.
Augustusbrunnen is a fountain which represents the founder of the city, Roman Emperor Augustus, and due to the historic Augsburg Water Management System, the Augustus Fountain has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 6 July 2019. On top of the fountain is the figure of Augustus with his right arm raised solemnly addressing the army. A laurel wreath, (which is the sign of fame, honour, calm and peace) adorns his head. There are many other figurines on this fountain but on the fountain pillar there are female hermen, also called Pflockweiber, who spray water from their breasts, which are symbols of abundance of wealth. When we noticed this, we did a double take!
From here we continued our walk to the Fuggerei.
At the entrance to the Fuggerei are three plaques which serve as reminders of the founding family. Jake Fuggerei founded the social settlement in 1521, but he also included the name of his deceased brothers.
The Fuggerei was created for needy Augsburg citizens. It consists of 67 houses with 140 apartments, a church and administrative buildings. The annual rent for an apartment is still the nominal value of one Rhine guilder (currently 0.88 euros). To be a resident here there are three conditions: you have to be Catholic, a registered Augsburg citizen and pray three different prayers per day for the founder and the Fugger family. The most prominent resident of the Fuggerei was the master builder Franz Mozart, the great grandfather of the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He lived at house number 14 from 1681 until he died in April 1694.
The Fuggerei is called a ‘city in the city’ because it has a church, a city wall and three gates. Though it sustained heavy damage during a bombing raid in WW II, the community was restored to its pre raid condition. To this day, the social settlement is still financed almost exclusively through an endowment.
We walked through the community gaining a glimpse inside a model apartment which displays the lifestyle of Fuggerei residents today; the Fuggerei museum, which displays the lifestyle of earlier times and the bunker of WWII, which is the original air raid shelter housing a permanent exhibition of the pre social settlement and post war reconstruction.
The Fuggerei is a tranquil place of courtyards and walls adorned with overgrown vines built on a 500-year-old agreement. It cost us four times more to see inside the community than the annual rent of Fuggerei’s residents, which is quite remarkable. What a great initiative especially back in the 1500s.
On our way back to the motorhome we passed Mozarthaus, a 17th century artisan house in which Leopold Mozart, the father of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, was born in 1719. Leopold’s career was distinguished in its own way, as he wrote music and became known as a leading music teacher and also taught Wolfgang, discovered his talent and managed his career. Since 1937, it houses an exhibition and memorial site dedicated to the history of the Mozart family in Augsburg. Unfortunately, it is being restored and is due to open in October.
From here we drove to our campsite in a carpark outside Munich.