Regensberg, Germany

Medieval Old Town Regensburg is filled with captivating 13th and 14th century homes and  churches.

Brief History

Regensburg, Germany lies at the northern tip of the Danube River where the Danube meets up with the  River Regen. By train Regensburg is an hour and half northeast of Munich or an hour southeast of Nuremberg. 

Evidence of stone age inhabitants has been found here but it was the early Celtics that named their settlement Radasbona. Around 90 CE a Roman fort was built in one the modern-day suburbs of Regensburg and in 179 CE, during the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, the Romans built a second larger fortress they named Castra Regina. By the 6th century Castra Regina was known as Reganespurc and from 530 to the first half of the 13th century, it was Bavaria’s first capital city.

By the 12th and 13th centuries, Regensburg was one of the wealthiest cities, with trade flourishing as far as Paris, Venice and Kiev in the Ukraine. In 1245 the Holy Roman Empire named Regensburg as a Free Imperial City. Under the rule of the Holy Roman Empire, from 1663 to 1806, it hosted the “Perpetual Imperial Diet.” The Imperial Diet was the governmental body of the Holy Roman Empire although members used it as much to negotiate as to legislate. Regensburg would remain an Imperial City until 1803 and the city was the site of the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806.

As one of the largest medieval old towns north of the Alps, its well-preserved architecture and the city’s historical importance for Diet’s or assemblies during the Holy Roman Empire, in 2006 Regensburg’s Old Town was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who served as the head of the church from 2005 until his resignation in 2013 lived and worked in Regensburg. He was a Professor of Theology at the University of Regensburg from 1969 to 1977.  

One other notable resident is Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) – astronomer, mathematician, astrologer and philosopher. He may be best known for his laws of planetary motion and the three books he wrote (Astronomia nova, Harmonice Mundi and Epitome Astronomiae Copernicanae). Those works are said to have provided the foundations for Sir Isaac Newton’s theory of universal gravitation. NASA’s now retired Kepler space telescope was named after Johannes Kepler.

Johannes Kepler’s book, Astronomia Novia, 1609

Saint Emmeram’s Abbey

Saint Emmeram’s Abbey is a Benedictine monastery that was founded in 739. In 1812 the Abbey and surrounding buildings were granted to the Princes of Thurn und Taxis, who converted the Abbey into a residence now known as Schloss Thurn und Taxis. We also saw it referred to as St. Emmeram’s Castle. The Thurn und Taxis family continue to use the castle as a primary residence to this date. There are a number of museums open within and other rooms in the residence are open to guided tours only, but no photos are permitted. We thought the Baroque interior of the historic Abbey was glorious.

St. Emmeram’s Abbey

Alten Kapelle

The Basilica of the Nativity of Our Lady is most often referred to simply as the “Old Chapel” (Alten Kapelle). 

Parts of the church date back as far as 1002, making it one of Bavaria’s oldest Roman Catholic Churches. 

There is stunning gold ornamentation on the ceilings and elaborate Rococo styled interior walls. A service was about to begin so we had to cut short our stay, but this church is worth a visit.  

Basilica of the Nativity of Our Lady, Regensburg

Regensburger Dom – St Peter’s Cathedral

Like many Cathedrals we have visited across Italy, Spain, France and Germany, the Gothic styled Regensburger Dom is currently under construction. It was built between 1275 and 1524. The two spires rise up more than 340 feet (105-m) high and the 14th century stained glass windows are one of the best features inside.

The Cathedral is well known for its boys’ choir, the (Regensburger Domspatzen).

Regensburg Cathedral

Steinerne Brücke

The Old Stone Bridge that has crossed the Danube River for nearly 900 years was built between 1135 and 1146. It was so well built that the glorious Charles Bridge in Prague, as well as a number of other bridges in Europe, were modeled after it. It is worth walking the pedestrian only 1000 foot long (310 m) bridge to look back and capture some of the best views of Regensburg.

The Old Stone Bridge 

Altes Rathaus & Alter Kornmarkt

In the heart of the oldest surviving part of the town is the Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus) and the Old Cornmarket (Alter Kornmarkt). 

The Old Town Hall dates from the 14th to 18th centuries and inside is a medieval courtroom. The very first German parliament met in this very building.

The Old Town Hall

Schottenkirche

Schottenkirche, known as the Scottish Church or Scots Monastery is located at one end of the Old Town of Regensburg.

It was actually built by Irish Benedictine monks in 1150 and as the Irish monks were popularly called Skoten, the church is still called Schottenkirche today.

After numerous Scottish monks and missionaries resided in the monastery between 1560 and 1860 the anglicized “Scottish Church” or “Scots Monastery” became the common translation for Schottenkirche.

Our photo below indeed feels incredibly old. It is a closeup of the ornate north doorway, known as the Scottish Doorway.

The Scottish Doorway

We took an easy day trip from Nuremberg to visit this delightful Bavarian city at the edge of the famous Danube River. It might have been worthwhile to spend a second or third day discovering the city’s unique stories and secrets and to visit more of Regensburg’s nearly 1500 listed historical buildings that offer a cultural timeline covering the last 2200+ years. 

Historic Astrological Clock

Prost from these Regensburgers,

Ted + Julia

View our Scots Monastery photo album here

View our St. Peter Cathedral photo album here

View our St. Emmeram’s Abbey photo album here

View our Basilica of the Nativity of Our Lady Regensburg photo album here

View the Rest of Regensburg photo album here

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