The Inn River might be the fourth-largest river in Germany, but it starts in the Swiss Alps not all that far from ultra posh St. Moritz; making its way northeastwards towards Austria.
The 517km Inn doesn’t meet up with Germany until the Austrian town of Kufstein and the romantic German town of Kiefersfelden. It then runs a bit along the Bavarian border, meeting up with the famous town of Rosenheim, which is probably the most famous German town on the river.
The Romans called it Noricum, one of the places that Nero Drusus was trying to get to when he created the Via Claudia Augusta. He might be gone, but you’re not — so come see the Simssee (a recreational lake), the 14th century Mittertor, and the 15th century Church of St. Nicholas. Do it on the last Sunday of August, this way you can enjoy the Autumn Festival too.
One of the most picturesque towns along the river is Wasserburg am Inn. The Inn curves along the medieval Old Town, offering a number of bridges to get in there. Yes, there’s a castle, but the Beer Cellar Museum (taken by guided tour only) is just as good of a choice as any.
The Heritage Museum is informative, and on top of it, the Pulverturm (Powder Tower) and Church of St. Michael just add to all its charm, especially when it’s all snow covered.
Didn’t think about snow? You should, almost two-thirds of the Inn lies along the Alps. Alps equals snow, making many towns along the way true winter sports havens. ;-)
Where to go next? Oh, I know! How ’bout Mühldorf? Any place with a 10-day festival is just swell in my books. ;-)
Not only will you party for 10 straight days at the Mühldorfer Volksfest (it kicks off on the last Saturday in August), but there’s also an Old Town Festival, nature areas for quiet activities, medieval & Baroque churches, with a District Museum to boot.
Neuötting, our next stop, is where you can see the 78-meter high tower of the St. Nicholas Church (the church was built in 1410). At the Hospital Church, the Rococo altar is what you want; and then add a stop over at the early 16th century St. Anne Church.
After leaving Neuötting it would be super to stop in Marktl am Inn. You might have heard this town mentioned quite a bit in the news. It was where Joseph Ratzinger was born.
Excuse me, he’s got a new name now: Pope Benedict XVI.
In its Local History Museum (conveniently located at the Town Hall) there’s a gold chalice given to the city from the Pope himself, plus a whole bunch of other exhibits about this quaint Bavarian town. The St. Oswald Church was also special to Benedict, so you should see that (and the Benedict Column) too.
The Inn now gets much bigger, because the Alz (before) and the Salzach (after) make it that way.
Not to rush you in Marktl, but wait until you’ve gotten a gander at Simbach am Inn. See that big fish with Aenus atop it? That bridge leads to Braunau in Austria, but stop — you want to see the Church of the Assumption, the Art Nouveau Rathaus, and visit the Heritage Museum, don’t you?
The Inn River ends in Passau, but it’s not a sorrowful ending. The Inn turns into the truly romantic Danube (going towards Italy); the second portion of this City of Three Rivers. Passau is truly spectacular, a city of culture and history.
And a city of beer. ;-)
Really, I’m not kidding about any of this. A number of breweries are located in Passau (Löwenbraueri is one of ’em), and you’ll find a Museum of Modern Art, a Glass Museum, a gorgeous Opera House, and the St. Stephen Cathedral where a church has stood since 450 A.D.
I covered them all, right? Beer, history, culture. Yup, I did. Oh, and I covered the Inn. Maybe the Alpine air is agreeing with me.