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Regensburg: a magical combination of stone and charm.

Regensburg: a magical combination of stone and charm.

Anyone thinking a medieval town with a 2,000-year-old history might be slightly on the quiet side is greatly mistaken: Regensburg is anything but dull. World heritage comes to life in the individual historical buildings and squares but, above all, in the town that they form. What's more, this is a town for fun-lovers with the highest concentration of bars in Germany.

The people of Regensburg only found true appreciation for their town's old quarter at a relatively late stage. As recently as the 1960s there were plans to tear down the historical buildings and replace them with new ones. Nowadays, everyone is delighted that this didn't happen and, since the 1970s, locals have been carefully restoring and preserving their heritage in the old quarter. Few other towns in central Europe can offer legacies of more than 2,000 years of history whichever way you look. Regensburg has 1,500 listed buildings; 984 of them make up the UNESCO World Heritage 'Old Town with Stadtamhof' ensemble. The old stone bridge over the Danube, the cathedral and Krauterermarkt square with the Collegiate Church of St. John, the Cathedral Treasury Museum, the castle-like patrician town house 'Heuport' and the historic Adler Pharmacy count among Regensburg's most significant architectural monuments, but represent just a few of the vast number of outstanding sights. Further up the river, next to the old Amberger Stadel warehouse, is Fischmarkt square with its Roland fountain. Beyond that is a museum dedicated to the astronomer Johannes Kepler. Other fascinating places to visit are St. Ulrich's Church and Diocesan Museum, the former Cathedral deanery, the squares Dachauplatz, Neupfarrplatz, Alter Kornmarkt, Kohlenmarkt, Zieroldsplatz, Rathausplatz and Haidplatz, Porta Praetoria and the patrician towers – including the 28m Golden Tower, the highest medieval residential tower north of the Alps.

Regensburg's cultural scene is just as diverse as the treasures of its old quarter, combining traditional and modern elements with influences from around the globe. It includes countless theatre and dance shows, concerts, festivals, exhibitions and other cultural attractions.There is sure to be something for everyone, whether you prefer sophisticated or traditional entertainment, classical or eminently German. The choice of venues is endless too, ranging from hip and modern locations to historical settings or even outdoors on the town's squares. Any number of restaurants, bars, pubs and clubs tucked in among the narrow lanes and alleyways are a great place to spend the evening. Regensburg is also one of only a handful of towns that offers a modern shopping experience in amongst its architectural heritage. A multitude of shops of all sizes sell a wide range of goods. The beautiful pedestrian area in the old quarter is perfect, whether you are looking for international specialities or regional handcrafted products. Excellent shopping opportunities are also available outside the town centre: nearly every district has at least one large shopping mall. The famous sweet mustard is on sale everywhere, but the best place to buy it is the Händlmaier shop in Untere Bachgasse, central Regensburg. There is absolutely no doubt – at least for fans of this time-honoured family brand – that Luise Händlmaier's mustard is the best to be had in the world. No less doubtful is the fact that Regensburg is one of the best places to visit in the world, if not the best, but you should come and decide that for yourself.

City Highlights

The view of the Danube from Regensburg's old quarter is dominated by the Stone Bridge. This medieval monument has served as a model for many other bridges, including Charles Bridge in Prague. Built between 1135 and 1146, it is Germany's oldest vaulted stone bridge and has many sections still in their original state. The bridge was once considered the 'eighth wonder of the world' and, at 310 metres long and seven metres wide, it was the largest of its kind in the world. For more than 800 years, it was the only stone bridge over the Danube from Ulm to Vienna. Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa launched the Third Crusade from here in May 1189.

Clearly visible from afar, St. Peter's Cathedral is Regensburg's most famous religious landmark. Its current form took shape between 1260 and 1520, and is an extraordinary example of Bavarian Gothic architecture that has shaped lives in the town for centuries. Walking around the cathedral, you will see a number of exquisite treasures including the five original Gothic ciborium altars, and the windows dating from 1220 to 1370. The cathedral is also home to the Regensburger Domspatzen – the cathedral sparrows – whose sweet voices light up the services and enjoy widespread acclaim.

Regensburg is famous for its medieval patrician towers – symbols of the defensive strength, prosperity and power of their inhabitants. These fortified houses owned by wealthy patrician families with their tall towers dominated the townscape here in the Middle Ages – and many of them are still standing today. The most striking is the Golden Tower, now a student hall of residence. Dating from around 1260, it has nine storeys and stands 50 metres high.

The House of Thurn and Taxis has always been an integral part of Regensburg's history. Next to the Basilica of St. Emmeram is the royal palace, the family home since 1812. The annual theatre festival held here attracts well over 30,000 visitors to Regensburg every summer, making the palace one of the region's most popular attractions. The history of the Thurn and Taxis princes stretches back to the 12th century. The Royal Stables Museum (Marstallmuseum) displays an extensive collection of carriages, sedan chairs, sleighs, harnesses, riding equipment and saddles, and offers an impressive insight into transportation methods in centuries gone by. Some parts of the palace are open to visitors. Read more

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