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This square is one of the most ancient in the Old Town and has a rich tradition. With fine residences around it, many cafés and restaurants, and the Baroque Justitia Fountain at its centre, it resembles an Italian piazza. Its unusual triangular shape goes back to a fork in the road in Roman times, and its name refers to a “heath” in front of the Roman camp. Used as a space for festivities and tournaments in the Middle Ages, the square is now home to many events such as the Bavarian Jazz Weekend.
THE TOWN HALL
Until the 19th century the tower of the Rathaus was the tallest building of the city, and thus a visible sign of its centre. The dukes ruled from their palace on the old Kornmarkt, but when Regensburg became a Free Imperial City in 1245, a city hall was called for. Its citizens needed a building to represent their status, as from this time onwards they could run their own affairs. The four-winged Rathaus with its eight-storey tower dates from this period, and was extended up to the 18th century to make it a larger complex.
When you stroll across the wide marketplace of the early medieval town with its numerous cafés, you are at the heart of the old merchants’ quarter. Luxury goods of all kinds were traded in the narrow streets and on the squares and marketplaces. The magnificent patrician houses demonstrate the wealth of the merchants. At Wahlenstrasse no. 16 stands the tallest domestic tower north of the Alps, der Goldene Turm. This Golden Tower 8 , with its nine storeys and height of 50 metres, dates to around 1260 and was part of a fortified townhouse with four wings. It takes its name from an inn that was later here, and is now student accommodation.
A short detour into Brückstrasse is a must, because from here you have a good view of the Gothic “Goliath house”. It is the largest fortified house in Regensburg, a classic ensemble with a powerful tower and a residential wing crowned by strong battlements. Its façade dating from about 1563 is adorned by the scene of David’s fight against Goliath, but this fresco did not give the building its name. The origin was probably the previous structure on the site, an inn of the “Goliards”, as wandering theology students called themselves, after their patron Goliath.
ST PETER’s CATHEDRAL
Before entering the Cathedral, take a look at the imposing west façade, which has two conspicuous elements: the discrepancy between the two towers, which is a sign of the long construction period, and the differences of colour, which is a consequence of the use of various building materials including, white limestone and green sandstone. Take some time to admire the opulent sculptural decoration, which conveys an idea of the religious beliefs of the Middle Ages.
This square, named in the days when it was a marketplace for trading grain, was the area controlled by the dukes until Regensburg was made a Free Imperial City in 1245, and was therefore also next to the centre of clerical power. Here in the 6th century the Bavarian ducal dynasty, the Agilolfings, built a palace that was then taken over by the Carolingian monarchs and became a royal residence. Under Ludwig the German (825-876) it was extended to become a magnificent complex, in use until Regensburg became a Free Imperial City.
THE OLD CHAPEL
The Alte Kapelle, of a first church from the time of the Roman emperor Constantine the Great, and one of the oldest churches in the city. Today’s broad building with a free-standing bell tower was built in about 1002 by the later Emperor Heinrich II, altered several times and extended by the addition of the Gothic choir. This collegiate church dedicated to Our Lady of the Old Chapel is famous for its unique Rococo interior. A programme of frescoes and sculptures showing scenes from the life of Heinrich II and his wife Kunigunde form a wonderful symbiosis with the architecture, stucco work and ornaments.
The large warehouse building with its tall, five-storey pitched roof dating from the early 17th century impressively emphasises Regensburg’s former importance as a trading city. Today the Salzstadel is a visitor centre: since the Old Town and Stadtamhof with their more than 1,000 protected buildings became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2006, an exhibition here has illuminated the 2,000-year history of Regensburg.
THE STONE BRIDGE
A typical characteristic of such medieval bridges are the massive stone islands around the piers, to protect the bridge from erosion by water. Their width acts as a dam, holding back the water upstream and causing a swirling current, the reason why many mills were established here to take advantage of the water power. For centuries the Stone Bridge was the only permanent crossing of the Danube between Ulm and Vienna, and therefore an important traffic node. Three watchtowers, of which only the south bridge tower survives today, secured the crossing.
Cross the bridge to enter the district that was ruled by the Wittelsbach dynasty for centuries. It was thus independent of Regensburg – enemy territory, as it were. For this reason the settlement benefited from the trade route over the Stone Bridge, but was always the first target for attack in times of war, during which it was completely destroyed several times. Since 1924 this former “town at the court near Regensburg”, “Stat am Hof bay Regensburg”, has been part of the city.
REGENSBURG AT NIGHT
ALL NIGHT LONG …
For going out in Regensburg there are lots of alternatives in and around the Old Town, along the Danube and near the Stone Bridge. This district feels as if it must be the area with the biggest concentration of pubs in Germany, and the party goes on into the early hours of the morning. People are on the move everywhere, in the streets and narrow alleys, on numerous open squares, sitting together for a meal or meeting for a beer or glass of wine.
JAZZ & DANCE
Jazz lovers go to the jazz club Leerer Beutel in the Städtische Galerie, and concerts in various genres are on the programme at the Alte Mälzerei arts centre. All year round there are diverse special events, some of them on an annual basis, for example the Tage Alter Musik (early music), the Bavarian Jazz-Weekend, the Thurn und Taxis Schlossfestspiele (palace festival) and the Regensburger Tanztage for dance.
WHERE YOUNG PEOPLE MEET
The Jahn Island and Obere Wöhrd are also favourite places for young people to meet in summer. Next to them, the Alte Linde beer garden has a superb view of the Old Town by night. If you continue across the Stone Bridge, the little square Am Brückenbasar in Stadtamhof is reminiscent of an Italian piazza. In the two L-shaped buildings flanking it, cafés and restaurants with their outdoor seating are inviting places to linger. Directly adjoining is the Spitalgarten with its brewhouse pub and a large beer garden.
DANCING AND DISCO
For those who love to dance, the Petersweg-Parkhaus is the location of choice. With its legendary Suite15, its temple of techno, Club Schimmerlos, Disco Beats and the fashionable Gatsby, it has no fewer than four clubs for dancing and partying. Another option in the evening is a performance of theatre or music.
The Theater am Bismarkplatz stages musicals, drama, dance, youth theatre and concerts. Go to the Stadttheater for varied offerings including cabaret, and to the Turmtheater for comedy, cabaret and improvised theatre. Jazz lovers go to the jazz club Leerer Beutel in the Städtische Galerie, and concerts in various genres are on the programme at the Alte Mälzerei arts centre. All year round there are diverse special events, some of them on an annual basis, for example the Tage Alter Musik (early music), the Bavarian Jazz-Weekend, the Thurn und Taxis Schlossfestspiele (palace festival) and the Regensburger Tanztage for dance.