We arrived into Regensburg today where we quickly took a walking tour of the city before going to the Christmas Market. BTW, a huge perk in taking a European River cruise is that all tours are included. Well I can’t say all, excursions sometimes they have a specialized event for a fee.
The tour started at the famous Steinerne Brucke (the old stone bridge) was built in 1146, an interesting note, this is Germany’s oldest bridge. Steinerne Brucke crosses the Danube from the original old town Salt Mill and it has 16 large arches similar to the Charles Bridge in Prague but without the statues. It’s still used today over 800 years later. For it’s time the Stone Bridge was considered a masterpiece of early engineering. In fact Regensburg is remarkably preserved medieval city suffered nearly zero damage during WWII, it’s amazing that this city still exists. Built by the best builders of its time you can see the buildings as they were originally constructed.
At the entrance to the bridge is the Wurstkurchl home of the Bratwurst. This restaurant has been in business for over 500 years and has the best place on the beautiful Danube. Watch them cook their bavarian specialties in the original kitchen then eat a traditional meal in old European decor. The place is small but was filled with plenty of happy customers. There are only a few tables inside and a lot of picnic tables outside plus you have a good view of the Stone Bridge. While it took a little time to order due to the crowds and at least it didn’t take forever to get your sausages. They looked great having about 3, 6 or 9 (your choice) long thin links over a bed of sauerkraut. I’m not really a kraut lover but did take a taste, it was sweeter than most and although not my fave it looked like everyone else was enjoying it.
When approaching Regensburg by water there the first thing you see are two very tall steeple towers that dominate the skyline. This was our next sight to see St. Peters Cathedral. Built in the 1300’s this ornate Gothic structure was considered the most important church in all Bavaria. Within the exterior are intricate carvings of spooky looking gargoyles with both animal and human faces or long slimy tails. More carvings of kings riding their royal horses and foolish virgins underneath the tall spires of the church. What I like about this building is that there is all kinds of symbolism, for instance there is a statue of St. Peter who the church was named after holding a very large key that symbolizes the admittance into heaven. It not huge but you get what the artist was trying to convey. Another statue is the “Smiling Angel” who brings the good news to those who hear it. In fact this statue represents the angel Gabriel who is more than smiling, he’s laughing! One more thing to mention about St. Peter’s is the earliest known boy’s choir that brings listeners from all over the world.
Another church that I enjoyed was just around the corner from St. Peters and I think this was my favorite. The Alte Kapell also known as Old Chapel, is the oldest place of worship in Bavaria constructed in Rococo style around 1000 A.D. You would never know it by looking at the outside that inside is richly extravagant! The minute you walk through the doors you are hit with bright white and gold everywhere you look, along with grand marble pillars, ceiling and wall frescoes trimmed in gold and bright white pillars rising to meet these painted stories. Alte Kapell is a true masterpiece.
We also got to see the Porta Praetoria, an ancient fortress wall that used to surround the city. Still left is part of the East Tower with a rock archway which was once the Northern gate that lead to the old Roman camp built around the year 100.
On our free time we walked around the town and explored the back streets. Regensburg is home to about 100,000 people who live in apartments that fill the city. It was fun to see how they were decorating for Christmas with stuffed Santa’s crawling into windows, and lights. The buildings are colorful pastel all about the same size 4-5 stories high. Everyone rides bikes here you will see them chained near their front doors. There are plenty of restaurants and shops to keep you busy.
It was getting dark and you know what time that is, its time to visit the Christmas Market in the old town square! Quite smaller than its Nürnberg neighbor and not nearly as crowded but was just as festive. The booths were more traditional not as commercial.
Couple of gifts I picked up were for my husband they had very unique instruments that I had not seen before, and the mink hats looked awfully cozy on a cold December day. Scarves and pashmina’s always make a good present and leather purses were prices exceptionally well.
My favorite Christmas Market was at the Palace where the best artisan’s in the area had booths. It was so old-fashioned you could warm yourself next to containers with fire in them like in the olden days. The stalls had hand tooled leather belts and purses, beautiful handmade crafts, paintings and jewelry.
The most popular place to eat was at the Strudel Booth in the main market square with many choices of different types of Strudel. For instance, there was cherry, apricot, walnut, berry and of course Apple. It was served warm with a thick vanilla sauce poured over it and then shook fresh cinnamon over the vanilla. It was the best strudel I have ever had! I’ll be dreaming of how tasty it was for years to come. To tell the truth I would go back to Regensburg just for that!