Visit lovely Regensburg and discover the best of both worlds, visiting one of the oldest medieval cities in Germany and the largest medieval town north of the Alps on our Legendary Danube, Blue Danube Discovery and Iconic Christmas Markets itineraries. Regensburg is sometimes called both “Germany’s medieval miracle” and “the northernmost city of Italy” due to its lively streets and lovely outdoor summer cafés. Soak up the atmosphere or admire the rich history.
A Hub of Historical Sites
With nearly 1,500 buildings listed as being of historical interest -- find picturesque cobblestone streets and alleys, lively public squares, colorful buildings and cafés, a vibrant Old Town that was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the oldest working bridge in Germany and perhaps the oldest restaurant in the world. In modern times, it is known for being one of Pope Benedict XVI’s residences; he taught at the university when he was known as Revered Joseph Ratzinger.
Regensburg Throughout History
One of Germany’s oldest settlements, life in Regensburg dates back to the Stone Ages. The Romans moved into the area roughly around 100 AD, but the foundation date is usually considered to be 179 AD (the time of Emperor Marcus Aurelius) – when the Romans built the Castra Regina fortress. With this fort, the city quickly became an important center of trade and culture for Bavaria. And from the 6th-13th centuries it was Bavaria’s first capital. In 1245, Regensburg became a Free Imperial City and thrived until trade routes shifted in the late Middle Ages. Many of the structures from these times still exist and are popular destinations to admire. Spared from much of the bombing during WWII, the historical structures remained almost entirely intact.
A Monumental Cathedral
Naturally, the renowned Regensburg Cathedral (called the Dom by Germans) dominates the Old Town’s skyline. Dedicated to St. Peter, it is the most important work of Gothic architecture in Bavaria. Founded in 1275 and completed in 1634, with towers that were added in 1869 – the church is home to a masterpiece by German artist Peter Vischer, the Elder. It is also the base for the famed Regensburger Domspatzen choir. This all-male choir has performed for many notable figures, such as Queen Elizabeth II and Pope John Paul II, and has also made numerous recordings and performed in concerts throughout the world. One of their former choir directors was Georg Ratzinger, the brother on Pope Benedict XVI.
A Marvel of Medieval Engineering
The famed Stone Bridge (aka Steinerne Brücke) is nearby. Built from 1135-1146, it is the oldest still-working bridge in Germany, a bridge the Knights of the 2nd and 3rd Crusades crossed on their way through Europe. For a long period, it was the only fortified crossing of the Danube and was used by trading merchants as well. The completion of a stone bridge (and one that worked) was a real miracle back in the 12th century.
The World’s Oldest Public Restaurant
Next door, perhaps the oldest continuously opened restaurant in the world, the Regensburg Sausage Kitchen, first opened its doors to hungry customers in 1146 AD (although the present building dates from the 17th century). Folks have been coming back ever since. Originally built as a construction office during the bridge’s construction, the building then immediately became a restaurant named ‘Garkueche auf dem Kranchen’ (‘Cookshop Near the Crane’). The kitchen still operates daily, serving about 6,000 sausages to guests, along with other dishes.
Even part of the Roman fortress’ walls built in 179 AD remain. The arched gate called Porta Praetoria is a remarkable testament to the town’s heritage. Enjoy more beautiful public squares, dotted with fountains, statues, gargoyle statues, reliefs and stained glass windows throughout this stunning, incredibly well preserved city!
Explore the fabled town of Regensburg and its Old-World charm with our Legendary Danube, Blue Danube Discovery and Iconic Christmas Markets river cruises.