Visit lovely Regensburg and you can discover the best of both worlds, visiting one of the oldest medieval cities in Germany and the largest medieval town north of the Alps. Along with nearly 1,500 buildings listed as being of historical interest -- find picturesque cobblestone streets and alleys, colorful buildings and cafés, a vibrant Old Town that was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the oldest working bridge in Germany and perhaps the oldest restaurant in the world and lively public squares. 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 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.
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.
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. 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.