Thursday, March 10, 2011

Passau, Germany...on the Danube River

After we left Lenora, Czech Republic, we headed through the Sumava Mountains towards the German border. Just to make us feel at home, the route was snow-laden! Here we drive under the large spruce trees standing tall against the sun.

A ski slope is busy with weekend enjoyment, as we pass.

As we go through one Czech town, a small parade of people dressed in native costumes, along with musicians (accordian players), marched down the road, halting all traffic.

When we reached Germany, albeit Southeastern Bavaria, we soon found ourselves in the ancient city of Passau where three rivers meet:  the Donau or Danube (below), Inn and Ilz. Here numerous cruise ships on die Donau lined up, although the river is not so 'blue' today (remember, the song, Daube so blue?).
A few were actually traversing the river but it was quite quiet here on this nearly spring day. Not even a mermaid or, rather die Lorelei, could be seen...although there was a stone statue of one to the south of the river!

Looking south on the opposite side of the river are positioned these gorgeous houses. Anyone for renting a flat over looking the Danube?
To the right of the above picture is the large Veste Oberhaus Castle which the Princes-Bishops of Passau built in 1217 and used it until 1803. The Castle now has the Kulturehistorischemuseum displaying local history (as the name suggests) and works by artists.
It was such a lovely spot, we decided to sit here by the Danube, view the Castle and eat our lunch. After all, the tower bells just rang 3 p.m.! Mark quickly dives in

while many people walk by and hope for a handout of homemade chicken salad, fresh lettuce and basil leaves on Foccacia bread, along with Greek salt-cured olives, our homemade Bread and Butter Pickles--sipping Black Currant Juice and then...
ending with a new Strudel we created from peaches, apples and kiwi fruit! Oh so, tasty!  The Germans walking past are salivating at the sight of the Strudel.
So, in front of us we have the Danube River, while behind us in the small square, is the Neo-Gothic tower of the Altes Rathaus, an old town hall which was created by fusing 8 Patrician houses in the 14th-15th centuries.

We're looking at the frescoes on the wall next to the tower.
Underneath the tower is this marker which records the high water marks when the Danube River has flooded this historic square. Let's hope there are no more marks on this in the future!
Another view of the Neo-Gothic Tower glows in the afternoon sun as we head up the steep Medeival street to the Old Town area. We're grateful that this city was spared the destruction of WWII bombing campaigns.
We pass the Neue Bischofsresidenz, a structure built in 1713-1730 by Domenico d'Angeli and Antonio Beduzzi. Its pilaster facade sports balconies and the semicircular roof balustrade. A truly gorgeous architectural wonder.
Then we pass the Dom St. Stephan or St. Stephan's Cathedral which is undergoing exterior refurbishing. This Italian Baroque church was designed by Carlo Lurago which replaced the Gothic church that was decimated by a 17th century fire. Other fires, earlier in 1662 and 1680, decimated much of the city. Thus, reconstruction of the city was done by Italian architects, creating Rococo, Baroque and Neo-Classical looks, causing an intriguing hybridization of Italian and Bavarian influences.
The Cathedral organ boasts >17,000 pipes and is THE world's largest cathedral organ! Every day there is a concert at noon. Since we arrived here a bit after that time and, our primary purpose being to see the Bohemian Glass Museum, we'll come back another time and offer you an inside glimpse into this Baroque Masterpiece.

This city dates back to the Roman period. Its effects are widely seen upon the city, since Boniface (an Irish monk) created the local bishopric here and it soon became THE largest diocese in all of the Holy Roman Empire! Here you can see one of the many small, Medieval streets....too small even today for an auto! Mein fahrrad, bitte! (my bicycle, please!).
Frescoes everywhere dominate above this ancient 'skyway' over another Medieval street. Must be Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota got their inspiration for elaborate city skyway systems from the city of Passau!
In the square across from the St. Stephan's Cathedral we admire this fusion of nature (evergreen ivy, Hedera helix) with this stone-faced person, known as the Passau Fool.
We pass many glass and ceramics shops..begging us to enter. Outside of this one, modern works of glass offer a road-sign look on this fence...or maybe they're delightful large lollipops catching the sun?
Another shop hangs its typical Bavarian metal sculptures to catch the evening breezes
while the festive Medieval-inspired orange flag encapsulates the hill across the Danube.
Further on down the street we catch the rose-colored St. Paul Cathedral, die Stadtpfarrkirche St. Paul, which was first built on this site in 1050!
complete with a drive-through blessing, if you need it.

Everywhere the Medieval feeling permeates, even with the nearly empty streets on this March day.
Nearly empty, because everyone is either at the outdoor bars and cafes (including this grand Great Dane....who's waiting for his beer to arrive!) or
eating Bavarian ice creams (Amaretto and Tiramisu, please) despite the cold... 
or Italian ices (Mango and Pistachio)!
We are so ready to see the famed Bohemian Glass Museum (posting soon!).

Disclaimer: This blog is not an official University of Minnesota or Fulbright Program blog. The views expressed are my own and not those of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations, or the University of Minnesota.

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