Political, economic and cultural centre and capital of the Upper Palatinate (Bavaria), Regensburg, a placid, unpretentious place at the confluence of the Danube, Naab and Regen rivers, is a city steeped in history. Its medieval Altstadt is so well preserved that it earned the title of UNESCO world heritage in 2006.
Travel back in time through Regensburg’s 2000 years of history on our Regensburg shore excursion!
The first settlements in Regensburg date from the Stone Age. The Celtic name Radasbona was the oldest given to a settlement near the present city. Around 90 BCE, the Romans built a fort there, and in 179, a new Roman fort, the “Castra Regina” ("fortress by the river Regen") was built for Legio III Italica during the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. The arched gate called Porta Praetoria in the heart of the Old Town, which was part of the Castra Regina and formed part of the city's defences for centuries, is the most impressive reminder of Regensburg's Roman heritage.
South of Porta Pretoria, Regensburg’s sky-high landmark, the Dom St Peter, towers over the city with its imposing, 105m high spires. One of Bavaria’s grandest Gothic cathedrals with its stunning kaleidoscopic stained-glass windows and an opulent silver high altar, it is famous for the Domspatzen, a 1000-year-old boys' choir that accompanies the 10am Sunday service during the school year.
As you will learn on our Regensburg shore excursion, also the Jewish presence in the city has a long history, dating back to the 10th century. It was (and still is) one of the oldest and most important Jewish communities in the German-speaking area.
Already in 1230 the community had a synagogue (with 300 seats), a Talmud college, a school, a rabbinical court as well as a community centre, a hospital, a ritual bath and a cemetery. When the emperor Maximilian I died in 1519, the Regensburg City Council took advantage of the power vacuum and decided to evacuate the synagogue and expel the Jews. The synagogue located in the heart of the city, on Neupfarrplatz, was then destroyed and the Jews expelled from Regensburg. Excavations in the mid-1990s revealed remains of Regensburg's once-thriving 16th-century Jewish quarter. The subterranean Document Neupfarrplatz give access to a portion of the excavated area, while a multimedia presentation provides the visitors with a complete history of the area. In 2005, the artist and sculptor Dani Karavan traced the floor plan of the synagogue in the form of a walk-in floor relief on the square. The work of art, which was conceived as a meeting place and was named Misrach (Hebrew for 'East'), is intended both to commemorate the Jewish history of Regensburg and to serve as a meeting place for people.
The first synagogue after the 1519 pogrom was inaugurated in 1912, in “Jugendstil” (Art Nouveau) style. Also a community centre with a prayer hall, a Jewish adult education centre, a meeting room, an apartment for cantor, cult servant and caretake were built.
In the "Reichskristallnacht" on 9/10 November 1938, the new synagogue was burned down, Jewish businesses were demolished and plundered. The Jewish population was held captive at the police stations on the Jakobstor and Minoritenweg. For many of them the way ended in the gas chamber of a concentration camp.
500 years after the destruction of the old synagogue and 80 years after the destruction of the Art Nouveau synagogue by the National Socialists, the new Regensburg synagogue was inaugurated in March 2019. In the last 20 years, the Jewish community has grown very strongly due to the influx of new members. In the meantime, the number of members has exceeded 1000.
On our Regensburg shore excursion, we will wander through the city’s tangle of old streets, and explore magnificent buildings such as the elegant Schloss Thurn und Taxis, the early gothic Altes Rathaus and the Romanesque Schottenkirche St Jacob.
Hungry and thirsty after a full immersion in the city’s rich history? There is nothing better than a home-brewed beer and a hearty Bavarian dish at the Regensburger Weissbräuhaus.
Enjoy Regensburg’s unique intertwining of past and present on our Regensburg shore excursion!