Top sights to see in Regensburg on the Danube in Bavaria include the best-preserved medieval city center in Germany, a Gothic cathedral, important museums, and Walhalla.
Regensburg is a pretty city at the northernmost point of the Danube River in Bavaria, Southern Germany. The top sights here include the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage-listed old town, the Gothic cathedral, buildings related to the permanent parliament of the Holy Roman Empire, the stone bridge across the Danube, several important churches and museums, as well as the Turn and Taxis palace complex. Cruise excursions on the Danube River frequently depart from Regensburg with nearby Walhalla (Valhalla) a particularly popular destination. Hotel prices in Regensburg are pleasantly low when compared to more famous Bavarian cities such as Nuremberg (Nürnberg) and Munich (München).
Regensburg’s UNESCO World Cultural Heritage-Listed Old Town
Regensburg was largely spared the devastation of the Second World War and as a result has the best-preserved historic town center of any major German city. The old town of Regensburg was added to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list in 2006.
Regensburg’s written history goes back to AD 80 when a Roman military camp was erected on a five-hundred-year old Celtic settlement at this strategic northernmost point of the Danube River. Parts of a Roman gate survived but the most interesting buildings in Regensburg are from the Middle Ages when Regensburg was an important and wealthy commercial center.
The Gothic Regensburg Cathedral
The top architectural sight in Regensburg is the mostly fourteenth-century Gothic Cathedral (Dom St Peter). This triple-nave church with a non-projecting transept is 82 m (270 ft) long and 32 m (105 ft) wide. The oldest parts of the church – the Carolingian Stephanskapelle chapel and Romanesque Allerheiligenkapelle (All Saints’ Chapel) can only be seen on a guided tour.
The impressive 105 m (345 ft) high spires are neo-Gothic. These spires were only added to Regensburg cathedral during the nineteenth century and needed major reconstruction during the twentieth century.
In addition to the Cathedral Treasury (Domschatzmuseum), it is also worth visiting the nearby Diocesan Museum (Diözesanmuseum St Ulrich) where nine centuries of sculptures are displayed in an early Gothic former church. Also visit the nearby Alte Kapelle (Old Chapel) – this Romanesque church from 1002 has a remarkable, richly gilded eighteenth-century Rococo interior.
Regensburg’s Old Town Hall and Imperial Diet Museum
The most impressive secular building in Regensburg is the Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall). The Rathaus was built in the mid-thirteenth century to celebrate Regensburg’s status as Free City. However, the largest part of the building is a fourteenth-century Gothic annex.
The Altes Rathaus housed the Permanent Diet (Immerwährender Reichstag) of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation from 1663 to 1806. It now houses the Reichstagmuseum (Imperial Diet Museum) – a must-see sight for travelers interested in German political history.
Top Sights to See on the Regensburg Banks of the Danube
The over 300 m (1,000 ft) long Steinerne Brücke (Stone Bridge) was built in the mid-twelfth century as the only permanent crossing of the Danube River in the region. This 16-arch bridge facilitated trade and vastly contributed to Regensburg’s wealth during the Middle Ages.
On the Regensburg side, the bridge is still guarded by the fourteenth-century Bridge Tower (Brückturm). The adjacent building with an impressive five-floor roof is the Salzstadel, built in 1620 as a salt warehouse.
On the banks of the river is the Historische Wurstkuchl (Historic Sausage Kitchen) that claims to be the oldest sausage restaurant in Germany. It can trace its history back to the twelfth century but the present building is more recent.
The Porta Praetoria, at Unter den Schwibbögen, is close by. This Roman gate, now part of a more modern building, is the largest surviving Roman structure in Bavaria (although very small by Roman ruin standards elsewhere).
The Turn and Taxis Palace and Museum Complex in Regensburg
The Turn und Taxis family held a postal monopoly in much of Europe from the fifteenth to nineteenth centuries. The family is still one of the wealthiest in Germany and has their main residence in Regensburg in the St Emmeram monastery that was converted into a lavish palace during the eighteenth century when the head of the family became the principal representative of the emperor at the Permanent Diet.
Museums in the Turn and Taxis complex include:
- the St Emmerankirche Church with seventh-century origins and a lavish Asam Brothers’ Baroque interior;
- the Schlossmuseum (Palace Museum) of formal reception rooms and nineteenth-century historicist décor;
- the Kreuzgang – Romanesque-Gothic cloisters;
- the Marstall Museum with around 70 postal coaches from the Turn und Taxis postal service; and
- the Turn und Taxis Museum with seventeenth to nineteenth century decorative art.
Transportation to Regensburg is very easy with excellent rail and road links making it a possible day trip from Munich, Nuremberg, and other major German cities. Boat excursions on the Danube River frequently depart from Regensburg with the German Hall of Fame at Walhalla (Valhalla) a particularly popular day-trip destination.