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…