Monday, September 26, 2016

Peaceful Passau: The Venice of Germany





Water has quite literally shaped the picturesque town of Passau, which lies on the border with Austria. Known as Dreiflüssestadt, the 'City of Three Rivers', Passau's Altstadt is stacked on top of a narrow peninsula that sits on the confluence of three rivers: the Danube, the Inn and the Ilz. The rivers brought wealth to the Medieval walled town, which for centuries was an important trading centre, especially for Bohemian salt, central Europe's 'white gold'. After Passau was destroyed twice by fire in the end of the 1600s, Italian architects rebuilt it in Baroque style and many have since titled the picturesque town of Passau as the 'Venice of Germany'. Even Napolean Bonaparte called it "the most Italian looking city north of the Alps." Christianity, meanwhile, generated an aura of Papal prestige as Passau evolved into the largest bishopric in the Holy Roman Empire, and the Altstadt remains pretty much as it was when the powerful prince-bishops built its tight lanes, tunnels and archways with an Italiante flourish. Overlooked by the Veste Oberhaus, a 13th-century hilltop fortress housing a city museum and observation tower, Passau's old town below is known for its baroque architecture, including St. Stephen's Cathedral, featuring distinctive onion-domed towers and the world’s second largest cathedral organ with 17,974 pipes, is one of Passau’s top attractions, and which we we able to hear in its full glory visiting the town on a quiet Sunday morning.



St. Stephen's Cathedral with the world’s second largest cathedral organ which was playing as we visited during a Sunday morning service

The spectacular organ boasts 17,974 pipes

A baroque church from 1688, St Stephen's overall plan was made by Carlo Lurago, its interior decoration by Giovanni Battista Carlone, and its frescos by Carpoforo Tencalla

One of the cathedral's bell towers which has eight large bells in the north and south towers

Twin domes of the St Stephen's bell tower and Cathedral

View of the cathedral from Passau's Old Town Square with view of the Wittelsbach Fountain and St Stephen's Cathedral

A cobbled street winding down to the water from the Domplatz, or Cathedral Square

Located at the confluence of three rivers, Passau is no stranger to flooding, as the marks on the wall on the left show — the highest being recently in 2013

Overlooked by the 13th-century Veste Oberhaus, the hilltop fortress houses a city museum and observation tower

The Passau Glass Museum in the Wilder Mann, is home to the world’s largest collection of European glass

One of the glass pieces in the museum

The charming 'Wilden Mann' decorative sign outside the Glass Museum, which dates back to the gothic and baroque periods

 A courthouse for centuries before it was a gallery, the figures of St. Stephan and St. Nicholas stand guard on the corner of the historic 1303 building

Located in one of the old town's most beautiful houses on the bank of the Danube, the Museum Moderner Kunst displays modern German art of the 20th and 21st century

The afternoon I visited the Museum, there was a show exhibiting the striking prints of Carry Hauser and Otto Rudolf Schatz, their art a broad spectrum of artistic expression ranging from Cubism, Expressionism and New Objectivity to the stark realism of Europe's postwar years

On a lighter side, a beautiful outdoor café serving lunch on a warm Sunday afternoon

The striking architecture of the doorway of the Gymnasium Leopoldinum dating from 1613

The highly ornate baroque entrance of The Alte Bischofliche Resident, or Old Bishop's Residence

Inflatable pretzel in a shop in Residenzplatz Square

Our local guide with a small child's dirndl, which can be found in many shops along the waterfront

Bidding 'auf wiedersehen' to Passau