Our cruise started in Passau, Germany, where we spent the first night. Passau is known as the “3 Rivers City” as it lies at the confluence of the Danube, the Inn and the Ilz. Founded by the Romans, Passau was an independent prince-bishopric for around 600 years, until it was annexed by Bavaria in 1803. After a devastating fire in the 17th century, Passau was rebuilt by Italian Baroque masters. We arrived in Passau in time to settle into our stateroom and explore the ship, and have a short walk to explore the old town, which is delightful. The weather was a bit gloomy but we enjoyed exploring on foot. We spent the following morning on a guided walking tour of Passau, organised by Uniworld, then enjoyed a fabulous organ concert in St Stephen’s Cathedral. We still had some time before we sailed so we wandered through the town on our own, enjoying the atmosphere, the art and architecture. Not so much the weather – it rained on and off, which we bravely ignored, but we did end up hiding in the tourist office during a particularly heavy downpour.
The Rathaus (Town Hall) is on a small square facing the Danube, quite close to where the River Beatrice was moored. Its very attractive tower and mural are distinctive. The building dates from gothic times, but the mural is quite recent and depicts some of the history of the town.
Painted on the wall outside the tourism office is a chart indicating the heights of the major floods over the centuries. The river floods frequently, in fact while we were there the water was lapping the pathway in places.
We popped in to the entrance of the Neue Residenz, where the Prince-Bishops used to live, to admire the ornate baroque decoration.
This smiling stone face has an interesting story. It is thought to have fallen from the gothic façade of the cathedral when it burnt down in 1662, though no-one actually knows for sure.
We saw many Baroque Cathedrals on this trip but St Stephen’s Cathedral in Passau was my favourite. Perhaps because it was mostly white (apart from the organ & the altar and had lots of natural light. There has been a church on this site since the 8th century, but the current structure was built between 1668 & 1693 after a great fire in 1662 destroyed the earlier gothic church. This building was designed by architects from northern Italy in the fashion of the day.
The organ is the largest cathedral organ in the world, and one of the largest organs of any kind. The organ currently has 17,774 pipes and 233 registers. We got to hear a fabulous organ recital.
I particularly loved these two sculptures which hold up the arch over the organ. They don’t look like they enjoy organ music very much.
The modern high altar dates from 1952 and depicts the stoning of St Stephen.
In the courtyard of the cathedral are many old gravestones and sculptures. And this modern sundial painted on a wall. Since the sun was refusing to shine, I have no idea if it was keeping good time.
Höllgasse is a tiny medieval cobbled street that runs through the heart of Passau. It now houses many art galleries and studios, and an annual art festival is celebrated here. Coloured cobblestones mark the entrances to the studios, and hanging signs illustrate the theme of the festival. This year the theme is games.
We sailed out of Passau in mid-afternoon, after a full and fun day. Finally we are cruising!
- To see all the posts about our 2016 Danube River cruise click HERE.
- Although this post was written in 2021, it happened in June 2016, 5 years ago. Since I didn’t document the trip at the time, now seemed as good a time as any to catch up.