Regensburg can look back on a varied and colourful history of around 2,000 years. Yet one thing has been constant, a red thread running through the rich fabric of the city’s past: the traditional role as an European conference venue. For centuries the citizens of Regensburg have been used to welcoming guests and oﬀering them hospitality.
The city is one of the oldest in Germany as it can be traced back until Celtic times but people have been populating this area since the Stone Age. Around 2,000 years ago a roman castle was founded where Regensburg is located now. Later it became the ﬁrst capital of Bavaria.
Regensburg has been a spiritual center for a long time as it is – founded in the early 800th century – one of the oldest dioceses in Germany.
In the early 1300th century, the city became one of the few free cities in Germany. Due to trade connections to far countries, considerable wealth was acquired. The Romanesque and Gothic architectures from this time are still present and characterize the city's townscape.
The Stone Bridge – one of Regensburg's landmarks – was erected from 1135 to 1146 and is one of the most impressive pieces of medieval engineering. With its length of 336 meters, it has been used as a blueprint for multiple other bridges all over Europe. In 1273 the construction of the Regensburg Cathedral, dedicated to St. Peter, was started. After 600 years of building, it was ﬁnished in 1870 and is now another important landmark of Regensburg and one of the most important buildings in high Gothic style in southern Germany.
As Regensburg suﬀered little damage during the Second World War, its medieval parts are still well preserved.
In 1965, the fourth university of Bavaria was founded in Regensburg. Nowadays it is one of the most important economic regions in eastern Bavaria.
Since 2006, the medieval center of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a testimony of the city’s status as a cultural centre of southern Germany in the middle ages. This makes Regensburg one of Germany’s top touristic cities.
back to top
Whereas the City of Regensburg suﬀered little damage from the bombings during World War II, the “Old Town of Regensburg with Stadtamhof” with abouth 960 listed monuments within 183 hectare is the 32nd UNESCO World Heritage of Germany. Besides the listed sights in this chapter there are a lot more historical buildings to visit in Regensburg.
The Stone Bridge, measuring over 300 meters in length, is a masterpiece of medieval construction and one of the two major emblems of Regensburg. Built in the 12th century, it was the city’s only bridge across the river Danube linking the Old Town with Stadtamhof for more than 800 years. It served as a model for other stone bridges built in Europe in the 12th and 13th centuries like the Elbe bridge in Dresden, the London Bridge across the Thames and the Judith Bridge across the Vltava in Prague. Furthermore, there are countless legends surround the Bridge’s construction.
Crossing the bridge to Regensburg, leaving behind a stone carving called the Bruckmandl, the Salzstadl and the Regensburg Museum of Historical Shipping can be found in the immediate vicinity.
After being seriously damaged by heavy traﬃc, salt and water, the bridge is closed to vehicles nowadays.
The Regensburg Cathedral which is dedicated to St. Peter is the most important church in Regensburg. Rebuilt from 1273 to 1872 after the ediﬁce burnt twice, the building is the bishop’s church and the principal church of the Regensburg diocese. The construction of the building, reaching a height of 105 meters, is a prime example of Gothic architecture in Bavaria.
A legend about the Regensburg Stone Bridge and Cathedral St. Peter
The builder of the Regensburg cathedral and the builder of the Stone Bridge, a master builder and his apprentice made a bet about finishing their buildings first. Since the master builders’ cathedral made faster progress, his competitor made a covenant with the devil in order to win the bet - but the help was not for free: the first three souls who were to cross the bridge would belong to the devil. In the first years summer, the river Danube nearly dried out completely, helping the building of the bridge piers in the riverbed. After 11 years of building time the apprentice finished the bridge first and he wondered if he could fool the devil in order to not harm anybody. He decided to send a hen, a rooster and a dog over the bridge first.
When the devil realized the bridge builder’s trick, he became mad; he tried to destroy the bridge by pushing it into the Danube, but failed. The only remnant is the bend of the bridge which is present until today. After his defeat, the devil threw himself in the river – leaving nothing other than the Danube swirls.
The Bruckmandl, a statue made of stone that represents the builder of the bridge, sits on the bridge's highest point and looks towards the Cathedral's building process, until this day.
back to top
Some call Regensburg "Italy's northernmost city", others refer to it as "Germany's medieval miracle". To the locals the city is just plain "Rengschburg". But 2000 year old Regensburg is more than all of that. With a population of around 150,000 Regensburg is Bavaria's fourth biggest city. A lively young university town, with a student population of 31,000, Regensburg is home to a university, a university of applied sciences and a college of sacred music. The city is also a dynamic business centre providing jobs for 100,000 people – mostly in modern, hi-tech branches of industry.
True, Regensburg is a little off the beaten track. But the city, considered "in the sticks" up until the 1980's, now lies in the heart of Europe; it is well worth taking a detour to visit. After all Regensburg is not that remote - it is located within easy travelling distance of Nürnberg, Munich, Frankfurt and their airports - and connections are excellent. Regensburg survived the Second World War almost unscathed. Today a well-preserved medieval city - one of Europe’s wealthiest and biggest in its day – presents itself to visitors. The city centre is full of historical buildings and monuments, some dating from Roman times. No wonder that Regensburg is in the UNESCO World Heritage list since 2006. In addition, many bars, restaurants, museums, theaters and cinemas characterize the modern side of Regensburg.
Copyright Regensburg Tourismus GmbH
back to top