By Briana Seftel
This city is Germany’s best-kept secret. The first capital of Bavaria, Regensburg is steeped in thousands of years of history, but it’s hardly stuck in the past. Today, it’s a vibrant student metropolis with some of the finest architecture, cuisine and culture in Germany.
Located at the confluence of the Danube, Naab and Regen rivers, Regensburg is a popular stop for European river cruises. Its easily accessible location between Munich, Frankfurt and Prague makes Regensburg a splendid base for exploring the rest of Germany and Central Europe.
History dating back 2,000 years
Regensburg was founded 2,000 years ago by the Romans who built a fort called Castra Regina. In the early Middle Ages, Regensburg became the first capital of Bavaria and was one of the centers of the Holy Roman Empire. In the Old Town Hall, see where the Perpetual Imperial Assembly met in the Imperial Chamber from 1663 to 1806.
Regensburg is the best preserved medieval city in Germany - that’s quite an honor! In 2006, UNESCO recognized the city as a World Heritage Site, cementing the city’s status as one of the world’s great historic cities. A leisurely walk through the Old Town will reveal countless architectural gems, from the grand Gothic cathedral to the Stone Bridge, Germany’s oldest preserved stone bridge and the model for the Charles Bridge in Prague. At Schloss Thurn und Taxis, discover this centuries-old palace that was built on the former Benedictine monastery of St. Emmeram.
Some call Regensburg “Italy’s northernmost city.” It’s true, Regensburg has a certain Italian flair that can’t be found anywhere else in Germany. Stroll under Porta Praetoria, the stone gate to the Roman Castra Regina, have a cappuccino in one of the cafes hugging the Danube and stand in the center of Bismarckplatz, a square in Old Town that’s reminiscent of the piazzas in Rome or Florence. Just east of the city is Walhalla, a Parthenon replica that's dedicated to notable figures in German history.
What's a city without great food? In Regensburg, the thing to have is sausage - particularly the "sechs auf kraut,” the local specialty that's six sausages on sauerkraut. While you could try this dish just about anywhere, the place to have it is Wurstkuchl, the oldest sausage house in the world dating back to the 12th century. On your culinary, stop at Händlmaier's, a store that's been selling the city's signature sweet mustard for over 100 years. Honestly, Regensburg is filled with so many wonderful street cafés, pubs, restaurants and beer gardens that it's hard to go wrong.