©Deutsche Zentrale für Tourismus e.V. (Rainer Kiedrowski)
Scenic routes from A to Z
The Route of Emperors and Kings

The Route of Emperors and Kings – A historical journey

The Route of Emperors and Kings: there is no name better suited to this scenic route in Eastern Bavaria. Running unerringly along the Danube to the cities of Passau and Regensburg in Germany via Linz and Vienna in Austria to Budapest in Hungary, this route retraces the footsteps of both emperors and kings. Awe-inspiring natural sights and splendid abbeys, noble houses of worship, medieval castles, magnificent palaces and royal residences line the river Danube like a string of pearls.

What do you know about Sisi, Empress Elisabeth of Austria, and the Bavarian Kings? As you travel along the Danube on the Route of Emperors and Kings, you will gain an intimate glimpse into the lives of the Wittelsbach, Habsburg and other European dynasties. Reisen Sie entlang des historischen Reiseweges Donau auf den Spuren der Wittelsbacher, Habsburger und weiterer europäischer Dynastien. In 1854 Sisi herself travelled by paddle steamer along the Danube from the ducal town of Straubing to visit her future husband, Emperor Franz Joseph, in Vienna. If you are looking for a tranquil yet varied pace of travel, why not go by paddle steamer, just as Sisi once did?

The arteries of history

In the Middle Ages almost every king and emperor was known as a "travelling king". Rather than reign from their region's capital, they travelled all over the kingdom accompanied by their court and a large entourage, making short stop-overs, or even staying for longer periods of time, at the imperial palaces and abbeys that lined the roads.

The Danube: an historic route

It could be claimed that Charlemagne was the forefather of all travellers taking this route. In 788 he made Regensburg the seat of the Carolingian dynasty, and as a free imperial city it benefited greatly from overseas trade. Between 1663 and 1806 the town also served as a meeting place for the Perpetual Imperial Diet. The Walhalla monument, the "temple of German glory" built by the Bavarian King Ludwig I after 1830, can also be seen rising in splendour over the Danube a little up-river at Donaustauf.

European history and culture

Measuring 2857 km from source to mouth, the Danube is the European river "par excellence". It has been both a travel and transport route since time immemorial, which explains the rich and chequered history to be found along its shores. This history is still in evidence today at the awe-inspiring monuments and memorials that follow the river's course: ancient excavation sites, medieval cities, abbeys, castles, palaces, royal residences and modern museums displaying many different styles of art, all of which are to be found nestled in regions known for their beautiful natural landscape and exquisite culture.

In the footsteps of kings

From Roman emperors to Charlemagne, Frederick I and Empress Maria Theresa, from the Dual Monarchy in Vienna to the beautiful Sisi and Budapest: the Route of Emperors and Kings sets the scene for a truly majestic travel experience. A delightful countryside route rich in history, this is the "Sunday's child" of Germany's scenic and themed routes, and is truly unmissable, whether travelling by car, bicycle or boat.

The Route of Emperors and Kings

Length: approximately 750 km

Theme: along the Danube in the footsteps of emperors and kings

Deggendorf: medieval centre, Roman treasure, Gothic town hall
Donaustauf: Walhalla Temple of Glory, ecclesiastical buildings
Metten: abbey complex
Niederalteich: monastery complex
Passau: old quarter, residential palace, cathedral with the largest organ in the world
Regensburg: UNESCO, cathedral, St. Emmeram Palace (Schloss Emmeram)
Straubing: Ducal palace (Herzogsschloss), city tower, ecclesiastical buildings

Linz: castle, Brucknerhaus festival centre
Vienna: castle, Sisi Museum

Gödöllö: palace
Budapest: historic castle district, historic spa resorts


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