When cruising on the Danube, do not miss an opportunity to take a Jewish tour in Passau. Internationally known as ‘the city of Three Rivers’, Passau is located at the confluence of the rivers Danube, Inn and Ilz, on the German-Austrian border. Discover with us one of the most outstanding cities on the Danube and explore the Jewish heritage on our Passau shore excursion.
The history of the city started with a Celtic settlement called Bojodurum, followed by a Roman camp Castra Batava. In the 8th century CE, Passau became an episcopal see, and five centuries later, the city turned into the largest bishopric in the Holy Roman Empire, which lasted until 1803, when the prince-bishops ceased to exercise their secular authority over the area.
Thanks to its strategic location, Passau was for centuries an important trading centre, especially for Bohemian salt, central Europe's 'white gold'. Nowadays, Passau is the economic, cultural, and communication centre of Southeastern Bavaria.
Our Passau shore excursion will take you through the beating heart of the city: the picturesque Altstadt, perched on a narrow peninsula at the confluence of Danube and Inn. On the Old Town’s highest point rises St. Stephen’s Cathedral, a baroque church from 1688.. The cathedral hosts the world’s largest cathedral organ, a grandiose 17,974 pipes wind instrument, a mesmerising acoustic experience you cannot miss!
The Altes Rathaus, the Gothic town hall, has paintings depicting episodes from Passau’s past, including its association with the Nibelungen legends. The cityscape between Danube and Ilz is dominated by the Veste Oberhaus, a 13th-century defensive bastion, built by the prince-bishops, that hosts the Oberhausmuseum, a regional history museum where you can delve into medieval cathedral building and Passau’s glorious past as the centre of salt trade. Directly below the Veste Oberhaus fortress, the small, inconspicuous church of St. Salvator at the shore of the Ilz is a testimony to medieval anti-Semitism, and to the tragic destiny of Passau’s medieval Jewry.
Although Jewish merchants are already mentioned in the texts in the 10th century, it is believed that it was not until the beginning of the 13th century when Jews were allowed to live in the city. You will see Zinngießergasse, where once Jews lived around Judenschule.
The prosecutions started soon afterwards, and Jews were confined to Judenstrasse. The Black Death annihilated most of the Jewish population in 1349, but a new community settled down in Passau four decades later.
In 1477, the Jews living in Passau in today's district of Ilzstadt were accused of having stabbed a consecrated host with a knife, whereupon blood allegedly flowed from it. The accused were burned, the Jews expelled from Passau, the synagogue and the Jewish quarter torn down. The church of St. Salvator was erected in place of the synagogue and became the object of pilgrimages. Since 2005, a memorial plaque advocates for a peaceful coexistence between peoples and religions, and commemorates the Jewish pogrom and the injustice inflicted on the Jewish minority.
In Passau, you can’t miss the city’s most spectacular show: the Dreiflusseck, the point where the dark waters of Danube and Ilz merge with the green waters of the Inn.
The ramparts of the Veste Oberhaus offer the best lookout on the converging rivers. We recommend enjoying the panorama while tasting a typical Bavarian dish at Das Oberhaus, the restaurant with probably the best view in Passau.
Make the most out of your Danube cruise, explore the unique beauty of our Passau shore excursion!