Danube Trip: Passau, Germany

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Danube Trip: Passau, Germany
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Due to the low water levels, Regensburg was as far as we’d be able to travel on the Njord.  Fortunately, this type of circumstance is something Viking knows exactly how to handle. To reach our next stop they brought in motorcoaches for the two-hour drive to Passau, the last major German city on the Danube before reaching Austria.

Passau is known as the City of the Three Rivers because the Danube, Inn and Ilz Rivers all come together around the city’s peninsula.  In medieval times Passau was known for the salt trade.  The salt was so valuable in these pre-refrigeration times that it was known as “white gold”.

Fire ravaged the city in the 17th century and it was rebuilt in the baroque style of the day.  That style is what is still seen in the city today.

St. Stephan’s Cathedral is located on the highest point in Old Town.  Since 730, there have been many churches on this site.  The current version dates to the mid-17th century and the interior underwent a major renovation between 1972 and 1980.


St. Stephan’s Cathedral

I love how light the interior of the church is.  So many churches seem gloomy simply due to the stones that comprise their walls.  But this church has a lot of natural light and the white interior was uplifting, even on a gloomy day.

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It contains the largest cathedral organ in the world, one that contains over 17,000 pipes!  We were fortunate to get to listen to a half-hour concert that showcased its wide range.


Just part of the massive organ at St. Stephan’s Cathedral.

The pulpit was built in 1726 in Vienna.


St. Stephan’s Pulpit – built in Vienna in 1726.

The sculpture of the stoning of Stephan is a new addition.  It was created by a Munich sculptor in 1952.


Close-up of the sculpture of the stoning of Stephan.

This is the entry to the bishop’s residence, just around the corner from the cathedral.


Entrance to the bishop’s residence

The residence comes with this balcony from which the bishop could look out over “his” city.  But in 1809 Napoleon’s troops took over and soon this became the balcony from which the little emperor looked out over “his” city.


The bishop’s balcony

Being surrounded by three rivers you may assume that the city has issues with flooding from time to time – and you’d be right.  This plaza in front of the town hall (“Rathaus” in German – isn’t that just perfect?!) will be completely underwater at times.


Plaza and pub in front of the town hall (Rathaus) in Passau


Clock Tower on the Town Hall

In these narrow streets just a block or two from the river, the water rises quickly.  Our guide told us that the homes in this area are mostly occupied by pensioners and students, who often clashed.  But during the flood of 2013, when water levels reached over 42 feet (highest level since 1501), the students worked tirelessly to help the older folks dig out the mud and make their homes livable again.  Since then relations between the groups are much improved.


Narrow streets of Passau can quickly fill up with water during flood periods

For lunch we were driven across the river and up the hill to Das Oberhaus.  This restaurant is housed in one part of what was once Veste Oberhaus, a fortress founded in 1219.  Other parts of the fortress contain a museum and a youth hostel.  After dining we were able to enjoy lovely views of the city.


View of a portion of the Veste Oberhaus from the city of Passau


View of Passau from Das Oberhaus

Our afternoon ended around with some light shopping before once again boarding the bus that would take us back for our final night on the Njord.


Categories: Cruises, Europe, Germany, River Cruise, Viking | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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