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Medieval mellowness

With some 1,500 medieval buildings, the picturesque southeast German city of Regensburg is home to the largest Middle Ages town north of the Alps. Veronica Stivala explored its gothic architecture and picturesque river banks, and savoured its delectable food.

Idyllic scenes of lovers idling, children playing and sunseekers basking along grassy banks by the crystal-clear river, medieval archi­­tec­ture in the form of pretty bridges, old buildings and a striking two-towered church. These are my mental snapshots of Regensburg, the picturesque city in southeast Germany.

Yet do not be deceived by this city’s sleepy exterior: pretty Regensburg is the political, economic and cultural centre of eastern Bavaria. Indeed its medieval centre has been gifted the title of being a Unesco World Heritage Site and the city remains one of the top sites and attractions in Germany. This centre is actually the largest medieval old town north of the Alps with some 1,500 listed buildings. It is conveniently less than two hours away by train from the Bavarian capital of Munich, and just over an hour by car.

Being based in Munich, a trip to Regensburg served as an enjoyable day out, one that offered just the right amount of idle strolling in a beautiful setting, a satisfactory amount of culture to absorb and learn about, and, of course, some delectable bites to enjoy in the sun. Regensburg is also a great option for a day trip if you’re visiting Munich.

One of the highlights of the city is most definitely St Peter’s church, the gothic Regensburg cathedral whose origins date back to AD 700, although the cathedral was rebuilt and expanded many times through to the 19th century.

I found myself visiting the cathedral twice as when we arrived late morning, a service was going on, and I while I appreciated the experience, I wanted to be able to explore further. My second visit saw me exploring the burial crypt for bishops and discovering some of the nearly 100 images of St Peter that can be found throughout the interior and exterior of the church.

I was also enthralled by the atmospheric stained glass windows, also in gothic style, particularly the melancholic portrayal of St Bartholomew against a contrasting backdrop of bright red flowers.

The city is relatively small and I enjoyed exploring it on foot, un­earthing a quaint outdoor restaurant, just behind the cathedral. The late spring, early summer months are the season for asparagus and I took the opportunity to savour a plate of the vegetables deliciously roasted in breadcrumbs and cheese, washed down with a refreshing glass of Johannisbeer Schorle (red currant juice), and served by waiting staff in good old, typical Bavarian attire of tracht and dirndl.

My strolls took me across another of the city’s attractions: the stone bridge, a 12th-century structure that goes across the River Danube, linking the Old Town with Stadtamhof. On either side of the bridge were buskers, one playing an accordion, another singing to her guitar music, which sounds provided a pleasant soundtrack to the walk across.

While I opted to discover the city alone, there was the option of taking a guided ride in a quaint little train, and even to be taken around the city by a guide.

There’s a funny saying in German that says that you need to relax after relaxing, and I delighted in doing just this as I sat with my travelling companions in the uniquely pretty city square – Bismarckplatz. Situa­ted in this square is the city’s most important theatre – the Regensburg Theatre – I would have loved to enjoy one of its summer open-air performances, but limited time didn’t allow it. Being blessed with warm weather and bright sunshine that day, many passers-by could be seen licking a cool ice-cream, or cooling off by the stone fountain.

I left the city pleasantly sun-soaked and relaxed, hoping to return soon to explore more of its culture, history and food.

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