Passau, the city where three Rivers meet

After settling in at my Airbnb in Passau, a city in Lower Bavaria, I took a walk at the beautiful waterfront promenade to the point where the three rivers Donau, Inn and Ilts meet.

Passau boat ride, Schifffahrt

There were colorful flowers and buildings as I strolled along. I noticed the architecture of Passau’s old city buildings, and as I was reading later, there is a reason why it has an Italian flair

Passau, Bavaria

After the catastrophic city fire of 1662, the Italian influence can be seen everywhere. It is particular evident in houses of the Old Town Passau. This is not surprising, as master builders and craftsman used to come regularly from Italy via Innsbruck, and took a boat on the Inn river to Passau.

At the banks in Passau, Ufer

The ridge of the mountain across the river promenade is already Austrian territory. I walked all the way down where the three rivers meet, Donau, Inn and Ilts

At the banks in Passau, Ufer

Unfortunately, with all those rivers, Passau has been inundated by floods regularly, and caused particular great damage to homes and historic buildings. The last big flood was in June, 2013!

Passau flood in June 2013
Passau was flooded in June 2013

On day two I went on a boat ride on the Inn river. Here at the gravel bank, hundreds of seagulls were sitting, The ship turned to allow the most beautiful view from the river to the city of Passau. 

On the left is the Inn, the Dreiflusseck, the Old Town with the towering St. Stephan Cathedral. In the middle the Danube with the Niederhaus nunnery, on the mountain the Veste Oberhaus and on the right the llz with the llzstadt. 

Passau boat ride, Schifffahrt

The boat took us on the Inn river a bit upstream. On the left side of the hill you could see the Capuchin Monastery Maria Hilf. 

Maria Hilf monastery Passau, by Wikimedia
Capuchin Monastery Maria Hilf

People were already making a pilgrimage to this famous place during the Thirty Years’ War.  A covered staircase leads up to the church. Many pious pilgrims travel on their knees.  Today, the importance of Maria Hilf monastery as a pilgrimage church is low, but is still popular as a wedding venue. 

On the right is the Schaiblingsturm, a former customs or toll tower for the Inn from the 15th century. 

Schaiblingsturm, Passau
Schaiblingsturm, Passau

The New Bishop Residenz came into view. The façade is a mixture of early classicism and late Rokoko. The residence of the Prince-Bishops in Passau was built from 1712 to 1730 in a style of the Viennese late baroque. The master builders were probably the Italian Domenico d’Angeli and the Viennese Antonio Beduzzi. The address is Fritz-Schäffer-Promenade 6, Passau (not to be confused with the Old Bishop Residenz)

Bischöfliche Residenz Passau, by Wikimedia
Bischöfliche Residenz Passau (by Wikimedia)

The Old Residenz or Alte Residenz is located in the Old Town of Passau, opposite the cathedral. The current building dates mainly from the 15th to 17th centuries.

The oldest surviving part is Romanesque door vestiges and frame of 1180. The prince Bishops are first mentioned in 1188 as owners of the Residenz palace. The extensions of the second half of the 16th century were executed by Master builder Leonard Uttner and Christoforo Canevale.

Old Bishop Residenz Passau, Wikimedia
Old Bishop Residenz (by Wikimedia)

The Veste Oberhaus castle on the top of the mountain, was built in 1219 under Prince Bishop Ulrich lI. The final expansion of the fortification took place from 1674 to 1723. It served the Passau Prince-Bishops as a fortress and refuge in uprisings of the Passau citizens. 

Veste Oberhaus castle in Passau
Veste (Festung) Oberhaus

The last major construction works were undertaken under Napoleon in 1809.  At the turn of the century, the fortress was a notorious and dreaded prison for military prisoners. 

Veste Oberhaus, Passau
Veste Oberhaus

Today, there is a museum and a youth hostel in the Oberhaus fortress. I started the path by foot at the suspension bridge.  The view is was worth the climb.  Right behind the suspension bridge I saw two Romanesque towers of the monastery church Niedernburg. 

Kloster Niedernburg (by Wikimedia)

The former Benedictine abbey is the most extensive Romanesque building in Passau.  It contains the Romanesque original gravestone of the Bavarian princess Gisela, the wife of the Hungarian King Stephen.  Today there is a girls’ school in Niedernburg. 

In the meantime we have arrived at the top of the mountain.  This is where the three rivers come together. 

Passau, where three rivers meet

On the right the white-gray Inn, which rises in Graubünden in Switzerland.  In the middle, an olive-colored Danube, and on the left the brown llz from the heights of the Bavarian Forest. 

This charming location where the three rivers meet has made Passau famous
Drei Flüsse eck Passau
Where the three Rivers meet

Kaiserschmarrn, Austrian dish
After an hour boat ride, I got off and walked over to the Königlich Bayrish (Bavarian) Guesthouse to eat a Kaiserschmarrn. It was delicious. See my Recipe here

Stephansdom Cathedral with the biggest Organ in the world

On the right side I could see the Old Town with its numerous secular and ecclesiastical buildings, out of which the parish church of St. Paul stands out in the foreground. 

Stephansdom, Cathedral, Passau

On the highest point of the old town rises the Cathedral Or Dom of St. Stephan.  The earliest source of the existence of a St. Stephan in Passau dates back to the time of the Bavarian Duke Hugbert (c. 730).  Around 739 AD, with the canonical construction of the diocese of Passau, the existing church was extended, or a new cathedral was built.  The appearance of the cathedral in the period from the 8th to the 10th century is unknown. 

Stephansdom, Passau

After the city fire of 1181, the cathedral was renovated in an early Gothic form. The cornerstone of the church was in 1407 and was completed in 1530. 

Stephansdom Cathedral cupola Passau

The baroque cathedral, visible today, owes its existence to the catastrophic city fire of 1662.

Inside the Stephansdom, Cathedral ceiling, Passau

While the original Gothic form can still be seen on the east side of the cathedral, the west front and the domes date back to the Renaissance and early Baroque periods. 

The architect of the reconstruction was the Italian Carlo Lurago, and the ornaments on the interior of the church was taken over by the Italian plasterer Giovanni Carlone. 

Stephansdom Passau Organ

In the cathedral is the largest church organ in the world with about 17,000 pipes.  An organ concert should not be missed.

Stephansdom Passau Organ

After a couple days strolling Passau’s alleys and waterfront trails, taking a boat ride where the rivers meet, I believed I saw plenty. The third day, in the morning, I took my Rental car and drove down to Landshut to meet my friends.

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