Passau, the City of Three Rivers, Is a Popular Stop on Danube River Cruises:
|RIVER CRUISE GUIDE – PASSAU|
PARIS & THE HEART OF EUROPE – UNIWORLD RIVER CRUISE – DAY 5:
Passau was a destination that we were very much looking forward to visiting on our Vienna to Paris river cruise and for a while it was touch and go as to whether we would be able to stop at this historic city. If ever there was any city that would be susceptible to river flooding, it must be Passau. Famously known as the City of Three Rivers, Passau sits on the confluence of three rivers – the Danube, Inn, and Ilz rivers.
A City Prone to Flooding
Passau is a city that is used to flooding and on the wall of the Town Hall, you can see a historical record of some serious floods that have devastated the town in the past. The June 2013 Danube River flooding however was an all time record. It was the worst Danube flood in over 500 years with flood waters reaching 3.06 metres. With television footages showing a very submerged Passau, we had little hopes of being able to visit Passau on our cruise. We were extremely delighted when our boat, the River Princess, pulled into town – a day earlier, it would not have been possible.
From our river boat mooring at the western end of town (near landing place 13), we walked along the Fritz-Schaffer Promenade and were surprised to see a very normal Danube river-front. There were no traces of mud-matted grass or mud-caked promenade and the place didn’t look like a town that’s just been through the worst flooding in its history.
Our guide Sonia walked us along the river-front to show us how quickly Passau had recovered from the Danube flooding. But just in case we thought that the floods might have somehow missed this end of town, she pointed out to businesses like the Blauer Bock Gasthof and others that had been devastated by the overflow of the Danube, and were in the process of being rebuilt. Passau’s very quick recovery from the Danube flooding was with the assistance of its 10,000-strong university students. They played a big role in the clean-up of Passau and for which the town is very grateful.
From Fritz-Schaffer Promenade, we turned into Marktgasse and in the Rathausplatz are the Town Hall with its distinctive tower, the tourist office and the Glasmuseum Passau. If you like glass, this museum has information on glass manufacturing from 1650 to 1950 and it also houses glass objects by world-renowned artists. From the Rathausplatz we walked to the higher part of the old town and at Residenzplatz we went into the Neue Residenz for a quick look at the rococo staircase and the famous Johann Georg Unruhe ceiling fresco depicting the gods of Olympia worshipping the eternal town of Passau. In front of the Neue Residenz is the Wittelsbach brunnen, built in 1903 to commemorate 100 years of Passau belonging to the electorate of Bavaria.
The main attraction in the Residenzplatz is Dom St Stephan (St Stephen’s Cathedral). While our guide ducked off to get tickets for the organ concert, we had a few minutes to walk around the square. The St Stephen’s organ is said to be the biggest cathedral organ in Europe and its organ concerts are very popular with visitors. By the time we entered the cathedral, the place was packed. The organ concerts are on at 12.00 noon daily from May to September.
More Things to do in Passau
Our morning hour-long sightseeing tour of Passau was very brief and we were glad that we had time in the afternoon to explore the town in more detail on our own. In front of the Town Hall we caught the shuttle
Back in town, we walked to the eastern tip of the peninsula to see the point where the Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers meet. Passau is the only town in the world that can claim to be in the unique position of sitting at the meeting point of three rivers.
To get back to our boat, we walked along the the Inn River front and saw some different sights of Passau such as the Mariahilf Kloster which we unfortunately did not have the time to visit. A little along, we came across the Schaiblingsturm, a remnant of Passau’s old fortification. At the Church of St. Michael, a classical concert was just beginning and I remembered that Passau’s annual Europäische Wochen festival was on.
As light was fading, it was time to return to the River Princess. We were glad that we got to stop at Passau and were able to see so much of the sights of this town. So we too were grateful to the students of Passau University for their amazing task in cleaning up the town so quickly.