In Passau, located in the federal state of Bavaria, close to the Austrian border, an aura of historic charm settles graciously on the old town.
The Danube, Inn, and Ilz, flow silently along hiding tales of yore in their enigmatic waters. Don’t let their placidity beguile you, however, for these waters have played roles in the form of violent floods in the history of this land, along with the Romans, Turks, Charlemagne, and Napoleon.
Under the rule of the bishop princes Passau enjoyed enormous wealth and power, signs of which you can now witness in the stately Oberhaus Fortress, the Gothic Town Hall with its treasure trove of paintings, the Scharfrichterhaus, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Niedernburg Convent, and St. Michael’s Cathedral.
It rose from the ashes of devastating fires in the 1600s into a baroque beauty replete with stunning specimens such as the Bishop’s Palace, and St. Stephen’s Cathedral which has the largest pipe organ in Europe. If you’re visiting in the summer months, do make it a point to attend the organ concert here to experience it at its imperial best.
Its exquisite location as a protuberance separating the Danube and the Inn gives you the best of riverfront landscapes. Complete with docked ships, fishing boats, walkways, hiking trails, and fantastic medieval architecture for background, you can spend hours here just taking it all in.
There’s a bit more to Passau than history and striking landscapes. While here, you might be interested in the bell foundry and the local breweries. Cultural events unfold an abiding interest in the past as you can see at the Municipal theater.
You’ll be fascinated to learn of the town’s connections with the medieval craft of sword making, which may seem at odds with the gentle veneer that cloaks this picturesque town.