Situated on the border between Austria and Bavaria, at the confluence of the rivers Danube, Inn and Ilz, Passau is worldwide known as "The Three Rivers City”. On our Passau shore excursion, we will guide you through the medieval, baroque and natural marvels of one of the most oustanding Danube-cruise halts!
Originally the Celtic settlement of Bojodurum, it was later the site of a Roman camp, Castra Batava, and was made an episcopal see in 739. In 1217 Passau evolved into the largest bishopric in the Holy Roman Empire, where the bishop-princes exercised secular authority over the area until 1803.
Thanks to its strategic position between three rivers, Passau was for centuries an important trading and shipping centre, especially for Bohemian salt, central Europe's 'white gold'. Nowadays, Passau has become the economic, cultural, and communications centre of southeastern Bavaria.
On our Passau shore excursion, we will make our way through the beating heart of the city: the picturesque Altstadt, stacked atop 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. Since 730 there have been many churches built on the site of the current cathedral, but fires in 1662 and 1680 ravaged much of the medieval town, including the cathedral, and subsequent rebuilding gave Passau a Baroque character. 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 in 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 testimony to medieval anti-Semitism, and to the tragic destiny of Passau’s medieval Jewry. Documentary evidence for the presence of Jews in the city of Passau dates back to 1210, when Bishop Mangold compensated the Jews of the city after they had been robbed. In 1206 they were released from paying customs and taxes in return for their aid in helping the bishop collect his tithes. They earned their livelihood in moneylending. A Judenstrasse is first mentioned in 1328, a synagogue in 1314, and a cemetery in 1418. (Before 1418 Jews were buried in Regensburg.) The Black Death persecutions of 1349 caused considerable loss to the community, but Jews were again resident in Passau in 1390.
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 peaceful coexistence between peoples and religions, and it commemorates the Jewish pogrom of 1478 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 effect is best observed from the ramparts of the Veste Oberhaus. We recommend enjoying the panorama while tasting a typical Bavarian dish at Das Oberhaus, probably the restaurant with the best view in Passau.
Make the most out of your Danube cruise, explore the unique beauty of the City of Three Rivers on our Passau shore excursion!