Friday, December 18, 2009

5. Danube River Cruise - Regensburg (12/18/09)

Friday, December 18, 2009
This morning we have a lecture on "Christmas in Europe," before our guided tour in Regensburg, Germany. It is snowing, and it is even cold for the natives. But they are happy that it is at last feeling "Christmas-y," since it had been unseasonably warm until now.
Once again, we were already in the old town, and a block from the ship we were already seeing the sights. The guide explained that in medieval times, very few people knew how to read, so signs depended on graphics. The yellow post coach on this wrought-iron sign
Wrought-iron sign
signified that this building was an inn, and the name of the inn had something to do with a whale.
Regensburg contained several Roman ruins, with the most well known being the Porta Praetoria (Pretoria Gate)
Pretoria Gate
next to a watchtower. The remains have been incorporated into houses that were built later.
After walking through narrow streets, and through courtyards, we arrived at Dom St. Peter (St. Peter's Cathedral, 1290-1890, yes, it took 600 years to build!)
St Peter's Cathedral
which is considered the finest Gothic church in Bavaria. The façade is full of intricate stone carvings.
The cathedral has the Gothic characteristics of buttresses and gargoyles.
Buttresses
Gargoyle
The rear of the church showed how the buttresses allowed for more windows.
Lots of windows
You can see the cathedral was made from two types of stone (limestone and green sandstone), both of which erode easily. There is a workshop with 15 full-time stone masons who are working on replacing all the stone parts of the cathedral exterior.
Cathedral workshop
Our tour took us past several more churches, a watch tower, and a palace. Regensburg also escaped being bombed in World War II, and has over 1,300 buildings of historical interest. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2006. However, the tour guide confessed that they suffer from the ABC syndrome - Another Bloody Church.
In the Neufarrkircheplatz (New Parish Church Square), there is a memorial (2005) by Dani Karavan showing the footprint of a synagogue that was destroyed in 1512.
Synagogue Memorial
We ended up at Kohlenmarkt (Coal Market), the main square of Regensburg. and the location of the old City Hall.
Kohlenmarkt
Next to the city hall entrance, you could see lengths of metal, which were the official measurement standards for the town. Think you were cheated on a length of silk? Go measure it against the town standard!
Measurement standards
The room behind the pillared window
Pillared window
was where the Holy Roman Empire's Imperial Diet or Parliament was held during 1663-1806. Around the corner, a wall fresco showed where the Regensburg Conference was held, trying to reunite the Catholics and Lutherans.
Regensburg Conference site
Not a success!
Back near the bank of the Danube River, a small well indicated the area of the old Fischmarkt (Fish Market).
Fischmarkt
Beyond that we could see the Brückturm (Bridge Tower, 17th century), the only one of three towers to survive.
Bridge Tower and Salt Warehouse
It stood next to the Salzstadel (Salt Warehouse, 1620).
The Steinerne Brücke (Stone Bridge, 1135-1146) was an engineering marvel when it was built, with 16 spans (15 remain today).
Stone Birdge
St Johannes Nepomuk stands on the bridge
The Historisches Wurstküchl (Historic Sausage Kitchen).
Sausage Kitchen
In operation for over 850 years, they offer the succulent Regensburger sausages that are served with mustard and sauerkraut. Regensburg claims to have the best sausages in Germany.
Aross the street, we had an appointment at Drubba's shop for a cuckoo clock-making demonstration.
Parts of a cuckoo clock
See the small white bellows in different sizes? They make the "coo-coo" sound! The shop had thousands of clocks,
Black Forest-style cuckoo clocks
plus other souvenirs.
Beer steins
Aprons
We returned to the boat for lunch, then went out again on our own. This shop window had mechanical skiers
Skiers in shop window
and skaters.
video
After getting directions, we corrected a wrong turn and reached Schloss Emmeram (Emmeram Palace).
Emmeram Palace
Once a Benedictine Abbey, it is now home to the princely family of Thurn-und-Taxis. Their title and wealth came from a postal monopoly of Europe during the Holy Roman Empire. Parts of the palace are open to the public, and they hold a Romantic Christmas Market here. The paths were lined with torches, and they had strategically-placed wood-fires for warming up!
Brynne and Kent warm up
The stalls sold more traditional handicrafts, such as lace and straw ornaments,
Ornament stall
and decorations made with wood and natural materials.
Natural decorations
A huge brightly-decorated Christmas tree stood in the center of an inner courtyard.
Christmas tree
Usually such trees only had lights.
Statues of children adorned a garden wall.
Garden wall
The inner courtyard was supposed to have the craftsmen at work, but we only saw pork being roasted!
Brynne with roasting pork
The palace has its own church and cloister, entered through a lovely Gothic wall.
Church and cloister
We headed back toward the Danube River, passing several more churches. We split up, with Brynne and Yuriko returning to the boat, and Kent and Tamiko going to an art gallery of works from the former East Germany.
When we returned to the boat, we stopped to try the Regensburger sausages.
Regensburger sausage sandwich
They were served two to a bun, and were delicious!
That evening, we had a bonus lecture on the European Union, and a very entertaining glassblowing demonstration.
Glassblown objects
The glassblower had plenty of wares to sell!
Next: 6. Nürnberg.

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