Regensburg: Land of the Middle Ages and Almost Missing the Boat

After a morning sipping beer at the Weltenburg Abbey, I spent the afternoon in Regensburg, a beautiful city with postcard-worthy scenes around every corner.

While Nuremberg was almost entirely rebuilt after being destroyed in the Second World War, Regensburg remained largely intact, so most of the buildings in the Old City date back to the Middle Ages, and some even earlier! It’s the oldest city on the Danube.

I started with a visit to the gothic St. Peter’s Cathedral, whose spires dominate the city-scape.

The construction of this cathedral started in the 13th century, and today there are twenty stone-masons working full time to replace deteriorating bricks and keep the structure strong.

Seventy percent of the original windows remain, having been removed and preserved during WWII.

Just north of the cathedral is the North Gate (Porta Praetoria), built in the 2nd century AD and the most significant remnant of the Roman Empire in this region.

There was no mortar used in its construction, and the stones were once completely flush. The gate looks almost cartoonish after having survived nearly 2000 years.

Just a few blocks from the North Gate is the stone bridge, built in the 12th century, which connects the neighbourhoods of Regensburg that are separated by the river. Though undergoing some repairs, it still carries traffic from one side of Regensburg to the other.

Next to the old stone bridge is the Historic Sausage Kitchen of Regensburg, which originally served as a catering kitchen for the workers building the stone bridge.

There is a rivalry between Regensburg and Nuremberg over who has the best sausages.

I had a slight preference for Nuremberg’s version, but the quaint 900-year-old sausage house in Regensburg definitely wins for atmosphere.

Close to the old sausage house is a store dedicated to hand-crafted German goods, including an array of cuckoo clocks, wooden toys, and beer steins.

Next, I spent some time at the Prinzess Café, because I couldn’t resist checking out a chocolate shop that has been in continuous operation since the Middle Ages.

I ordered a 70% chocolate bar and a Mandelhörnchen, which is a chocolate-dipped, horsehoe-shaped pastry filled with almonds and marzipan.

Both made me supremely happy.

After dinner on board, I returned to the quiet streets of Regenburg for a quick visit and enjoyed my last hour in the city with a German Rosé at the lovely Café Lila.

Normally, I pride myself on having a good sense of direction and spatial awareness, but somehow I massively overestimated my ability to navigate the dark, winding streets of this medieval city.

The passenger of stateroom 223 (me) was missing when it came time for the boat to depart, and an announcement went out to the whole ship. Meanwhile, I ran and ran through the streets, found someone to point me in the direction of the Donau (Danube), and finally made it to the ship, welcomed by a very gracious crew. Stateroom 223 here, and I officially (and sheepishly) apologize for the delay.

It wouldn’t have been SO bad to be left behind in Regensburg—there are worse things than living off of marzipan and sausages. I could rent an apartment in an old medieval tower and get myself a cuckoo clock to help me keep track of the time…  





Weltenburg Abbey: Serious Beer Credentials

After travelling through the night, we docked in Regensburg, and I joined an excursion to the Weltenburg Abbey. It was founded in 620 by Irish monks, and it later become a Benedictine monastery. In 1050 the monks took up brewing beer, and it’s now the oldest continuing monastic brewery in the world. How could I resist credentials like that!?

We boarded a much smaller vessel, one fit for winding through the twists and turns of the scenic Danube Gorge,

and made our way through the narrowest and deepest part of the river fringed with steep white cliffs.  

Can you spot the saint hidden in the rock?


As we passed through the gorge, we were fed soft pretzels and pints of the abbey’s famous dark beer.

After about 45 minutes, the Weltenburg Abbey appeared before us, and we stepped off the boat and onto the grounds where baroque structures from the 1700’s stood.

This stretch of the Danube is prone to flooding, and the outer walls of the abbey show how high the most significant flood waters have risen over the years.

The abbey church exhibits the dramatic contrast of light and dark characteristic of baroque architecture.

Dark columns meet the illuminated domed ceiling where a large oval painting, illuminated by unseen windows, spans the ceiling.

The use of light is symbolic: the congregation sits in darkness, while looking upward toward heavenly light. The church is also home to the world’s oldest working pipe organ.

Also on the abbey grounds is a large, open air biergarten shaded by horse chestnuts and linden trees.

It serves traditional German food, including cheese made at the abbey, and of course, beer! They brew several kinds of beer, but they are most famous for their malty Barock Dunkel, which they've brewed since the very beginning.

After my morning at the beautiful abbey, I spent the afternoon and evening exploring Regensberg, the oldest city on the Danube. More on that gorgeous city soon…