Start your explorations with a panoramic view of the roofs and spires of the Altstadt (Old Town) from the 12th-century Steinerne Brücke (Stone Bridge), built between 1135 and 1146 and spanning the Danube on 16 arches. A major engineering feat in its day, the bridge opened up land routes between northern Europe and Venice, making Regensburg a major trading center. For a quick trip back to the Middle Ages, stroll down Hinter der Grieb, an ancient alleyway lined with 15th-century houses with high towers.
Regensburg is a city of churches; it was once the focal point from which Christianity spread throughout Germany and even into central Europe via the Danube. The most majestic of these churches is the towering Dom St. Peter's which was begun in the 13th century on the site of an earlier Carolingian church. Because it was constructed with easily eroded limestone and green sandstone, this French Gothic edifice is constantly being restored. The cathedral is home to a famous boys' choir, the Chor Dompatzen, which performs every Sunday morning at 10am Mass. The performance is open to all.
You can visit the cathedral treasures at the Domschatzmuseum which displays goldsmiths' work and splendid textiles from the 11th to the 20th century. Entrance is through a portal in the north aisle of the cathedral. You can also buy a combination ticket to the Domschatzmuseum and the Diözesanmuseum St. Ulrich.
The permanent collection of the Diözesanmuseum St. Ulrich is on exhibit in the former Church of St. Ulrich, an early Gothic building to the side of the cathedral, Sculptures, paintings, and goldsmiths' work form a representative selection of religious art in the diocese from the 11th to the 20th century. Of particular interest are works on loan from the monastic foundations of the diocese.
Crossing the cathedral garden, you enter the cloister with its Romanesque Aller Heiligenkapelle (All Saints' Chapel) and Sankt Stephan Kirche (St. Stephen's Church). The ancient frescoes on the walls of the chapel depict liturgical scenes from All Saints' Day. The 11th-century church of St. Stephen contains an altar made of a hollowed limestone rock with openings connecting to early Christian tombs. You can visit the cloister and Sankt Stephan Kirche only on one of the guided tours (in German). Contact the Tourist Information for details on the irregular tour schedule.
Of all the remnants of Roman occupation of Regensburg, the ancient Porta Praetoria, behind the cathedral, is the most impressive, with its huge stones piled in the form of an arched gateway. Through the grille beside the eastern tower you can see the original level of the Roman street, nearly 3m (10 ft.) below -- which is why you often have to step down into the churches of Regensburg.
Of the four Museen de Stadt Regensburg (City Museums of Regensburg), the most important is the Historisches Museum (History Museum), one of the most notable museums in east Bavaria. Its displays show major developments in the history of the region from the earliest days up to the present. You'll see relics of the Roman period, such as a stone tablet marking the establishment of a garrison at Regensburg in the 2nd century. There's also a stone altar to the Roman god Mercury, as well as several Christian tombstones.
No town hall in Germany is preserved better than Regensburg's Altes Rathaus, Rathaus Platz. This Gothic structure, begun in the 13th century, contains a Reichssaal (Imperial Diet Hall), where the Perpetual Diet sat from 1663 to 1806. In the basement of the Rathaus are the dungeons, with the torture chamber preserved in its original setting. Know in advance that all of the Rathaus tours are in rapid-fire, colloquial German. A tour in English is conducted. For information about tours of the Rathaus, contact either the tourist office or the number noted above.
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