After my first busy day, I slept like a headstone until the sun rose and birds began chattering around 6 am. This day’s agenda was a visit Regensburg, the fourth largest city in Bavaria, a fact which amazed me, as with a population of 140,000, it is smaller than Boise. Of course, with Munich blocking out the sun and proclaiming itself to be the center of the world, one can’t expect too much of any other Bavarian city.
Regensburg, a Unesco world heritage site, is located on the banks of the Danube and like many old European cities, it is heavy with the weight of religious traditions and turmoil. Surprisingly, it was not very crowded despite its many historical attractions.
We visited the 13th century Abbey of St. Emmeram. Fire, war, and countless rebuilds have transformed the old church. But if you look in the right places the inner facade leaks through remodeled walls, revealing original paint and wood work.Next door is the “modern” palace of Thurn and Taxis (T&T), dating back only to the 16th century. Princes T&T converted ancient monastic structures into an opulent residence. I was surprised to learn that this noble family gained it’s power from holding the imperial postal monopoly, which along with advantageous marriages, kept the family in favor with the kingdom till the late 1800s when the mail system was nationalized.
We cruised through the interior of St. Peter’s Cathedral, the typical Gothic Dom that gives me the willies with it’s gold-plated ornamentation and gory gargoyles, meant to keep simple people scared of their own shadows. But even this behemoth began its life in 1275 and does contain vestiges of old paint and old beams.
Cathedral of St. Peter
We crossed the Danube on a stone bridge built in 1135 and critical to early commerce in the region. Unfortunately, the bridge is being repaired and resembled a 1940s Hausfrau getting a permanent.
Then to the old Rathaus which dates back to the 1300s. It was the center of the Imperial Diet until 1806. Most notable was the chilling torture chamber which contains the only known remnants of actual tools of the trade. Napoleon outlawed torture, a fact which elevated him in my eyes. In most cases, torture chambers and their implements were destroyed after the ban, but for some reason the door to this one was pulled shut and sealed, leaving the ghastly tools intact to be discovered and viewed by future generations of believers and disbelievers.
Our day ended with a home-cooked meal of grilled lamb with snap peas, fresh from the garden, grilled Halloumi cheese, and my addiction—good German bread. Again, wine and conversation stretched into the late hours of a starry night. I dreamed about our impending hike in the Alps.