Passau, Germany – Danube River Cruise:
Passau is strategically located at the confluence of the Danube, Inn, and Ilz rivers, near the Czech and Austrian borders. This City of Three Rivers is a popular stop on any Danube River Cruise itinerary. It is a picturesque and worthwhile place to visit, with lots for the tourist to see and do.
Origin of Passau
Passau was once the Celtic settlement of Bojodurum, and it later became the site of a Roman camp, Castra Batava. It was made an episcopal see in 739 and in 1217, the bishops became princes of the Holy Roman Empire. In spite of revolts by its citizens for municipal freedom, the prince-bishops managed to rule Passau until 1803. A devastating fire in 1662 caused severe damage to the city. Italian Baroque masters were brought in to rebuild the town, giving Passau a distinctly Baroque character.
The town is dominated by the Veste Oberhaus fortress. Sitting on the hill across the river from Passau old town, it was built by the prince-bishops to watch over the commerce in the rivers. The site is now the home of the Oberhaus Museum and from here there are panoramic views of Passau and the Danube.
The magnificent St. Stephen’s Cathedral, with its three characteristic green onion-domed towers, is another of Passau’s highlight attractions. It is located on the highest point of the old town and the site incorporates the remains of an earlier Gothic structure. The cathedral contains one of the largest church organs in the world, with 17,974 pipes. If you are there at midday between May and September, you can enjoy an organ concert by these mighty organs. Be warned though that these performances are very popular and during the peak summer months the cathedral is packed.
The Neue Residenz, the residence of Passau’s prince-bishops reflect the time when the city was ruled by the prince-bishops. Scattered around town too are several of the city’s fine churches, in varied styles, which reflect that era of Passau’s history. Many of these churches are classical concert venues for Passau’s festivals such as the Europäische Wochen.
In Passau’s Gothic Town Hall there are paintings which depict episodes in the town’s past, including its association with the Nibelungen legends. At the Niedernburg Convent (founded 8th century) lies the tomb of Gisela, the first Queen of Hungary.
Passau was an important medieval trade and shipping centre. The Inn River salt trade and the making of knife and sword blades were traditional occupations. In fact Passau became a major producer of swords thanks to a superstitious belief by swordsmen that the Passau sword had magical powers.
A Vibrant City
About a fifth of the town’s population of 50,000 are students at the University of Passau, which is renowned for its Economics, Law, Theology and Computer Science institutes. It is no surprise to note that Passau is the economic, cultural, and communications centre of south-eastern Bavaria. It has city and state libraries, a municipal theatre, and other cultural institutions. Industries in Passau include a bell foundry, brewing, and the manufacture of optical instruments, textiles, and tobacco.
Danube River Cruises
Tourism revolves around people arriving on river cruises, but as Passau is close to the Czech Republic and Austria, coachloads of tourists arrive from these countries as well. Passau is also a popular holiday destination for Germans. At the Donauschiffahrt pier you can book Danube riverboat trips and excursions. There are also many river cruises from Passau to as far as the Black Sea, and a steamer service to Vienna.
Where to Stay in Passau
If you like river views, the family-run Schloß Ort, located near the confluence of the three rivers, is a popular choice. Visitors have a choice of hotels in the Rathausplatz, such as the Hotel Wilder Mann or hotels in historic buildings in the centre of Passau, such as the Hotel Weisser Hase. For the complete list of Passau hotels, see Here.
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