First a little pedagogy point! Learned that a "burg" ending on a place name generally means an old fortified town, thus Regensburg. If the ending is "berg" it means more a town on a hill or mountain. Get it? Got it? Good!
I was up early to catch our first glimpse of the twin towers of Regensburg's signature 13th century Saint Peter's Cathedral in the foggy distance.
From Wikipedia and my own journal it is clear that Regensburg is old--perhaps the oldest town on the river. There is evidence of Celtic and Roman settlement prior to its major flourishing in the Medieval period. By the 12th century it was the wealthiest and largest city in southern Germany. Today's population is around a 140,000. Important from this cruiser's point of view is that it lies on the confluence of the Naab, Regen, and Danube rivers at the most northernly navigable portion of the Danube. This is a point we will cover in more detail in the next two posts.
While I have been preaching the history gospel, our ship has been pushing closer to town.
Coming off the stone bridge you walk through some arches. You are now on Bridge Street and if you turn around you will see the bridge through the arches in the rear of the photo. The bridge was guarded by gatehouses--one of which is now restored as the Bridge Museum and Tower. Next to the tower on the right is another historic Regensburg building. The magnificent early 17th century (1616-1629) Salt Warehouse. Salt, in the days before refrigeration, was a prized commodity and Regensburg was a major European center for its distribution.
We turn around again away from the river and walk up Bridge Street into the Old Town. The Bridge Tower is now behind us and the Salt Warehouse is on the left.
A bit further on our guide spun the tale of the Bamberg family tower. There are a number of these narrow high structures in the old town. They were built by patricians to reinforce and consolidate their importance in the community. Just as in Renaissance Italy, the higher and more ornate the tower, the richer and more powerful the family.
Our guide even claimed to be of Bamburg descent and thus touted that this was his own family's tower.
The mood shifted as we were given an opportunity to reflect on the long history of antisemitism that has been a part of Europe for hundreds of years. We heard some of this story while sitting in a 2005 memorial to the destruction of a 13th century synagogue.
In 1519 some 500 residents of the Jewish Quarter were told to exit the city in 48 hours. The houses, synagogue and surrounding cemetery were destroyed. Some of the rubble, including even some tombstones from the cemetery, were actually reused when new buildings were put up. A few of them still survive high up on older walls. Still pretty insensitive even after all these years.
Our trusty guide also pointed out some (what he called "stumbling stones" set in assorted pavements around town. They feature brass plaques commemorating more recent Holocaust victims.
Roman Catholic structures have fared considerably better in Regensburg. Our next stop was at the city's landmark church--St. Peter's Cathedral.
The exterior carvings are copious and often fanciful.
Unfortunately hunger claimed us and we were urged to head back down to the river's edge alongside the Stone Bridge to sample the food at Regenburg's historic old Sausage Kitchen called the Wurstkughl. Some have called it the world's oldest continuously running food purveyor as it was the place for workers on the Stone Bridge to get their lunch. Now it is this quaint little building.
So smother these critters in the Wurstkuchl's special brand of sweet mustard and DIG IN!
And of course don't forget to wash it all down with a brimming stein of the local brew.