Exploring Our World - Romantic & Historic Regensburg
Located about 80 miles northeast of Munich, Regensburg has a history that spans 2,000 years.
Regensburg in southeast Germany is a charming town full of beautiful architecture and rich history on the banks of the Danube River. Spared the horrific destruction of World War II, the Bavarian city is known as Germany’s “medieval miracle.” Step back into the Middle Ages, where buildings made of stone, instead of timber, maintain their authenticity. The skyline is peppered with red-tile roofs, majestic spires and towers built by boastfully rich merchants.
Located about 80 miles northeast of Munich, Regensburg has a history that spans 2,000 years, and that helped earn its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Wheelchair users may need assistance navigating cobblestone paths and steep inclines, but we had a delightful weekend exploring this romantic destination. These are a few of our highlights.
Cruise The River
Glide down the Danube River aboard the Crystal Princess, an elegant boat adorned with Swarovski elements (donauschiffahrt.de/?lang=en). The wheelchair-accessible craft took us on a 90-minute tour past homes, gardens and historic buildings, including the Walhalla memorial, a replica of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece, that was built by King Ludwig I and honors German heroes.
The descriptions of the scenery are provided in English. While I sipped a glass of wine on our excursion, my husband, Jim, indulged in coffee and apple strudel. The relaxing river cruise was delightful. Unfortunately, to reach the ship, you’ll have to roll over some large, treacherous cobblestones. There are many bridges crossing the Danube, but the Old Stone Bridge shouldn’t be missed. Built in 1135, the bridge leads directly into Old Town Regensburg with its narrow streets and ancient squares. On the day we arrived, a harpist sat and strummed a classical tune on the bridge.
Visit The Visitor Centre
Housed in a former salt barn, the World Heritage Visitor Centre’s interactive displays and artifacts tell the history of Regensburg from a Roman camp to the bustling city it is today. Designed for all ages and abilities, the center focuses on politics, daily life and architecture. An elevator transports wheelchair users from one floor to the next, and a companion restroom is located on the bottom floor. Admission is free, and the center is open year-round.
Stop In At St. Peter’s
Also known as Regensburg Cathedral or the Dom, the most recognized landmark in Regensburg is St. Peter’s Cathedral, with its beautiful twin spires. A stunning example of French Gothic architecture, the church is wheelchair accessible.
Inside is the largest hanging organ in the world. The famous boys’ choir, known as the Cathedral Sparrows, sing at 10 a.m. Mass on Sundays (except during Bavarian vacation from early August to mid-September) and religious holidays. Many of the medieval stained glass windows date between 1320-1370. There are more than 100 images of St. Peter throughout the exterior and interior of the cathedral.
Savor Historic Sausage
Boasting it’s the oldest sausage kitchen in the world, the Historic Sausage Kitchen sits beside the Danube. The traditional menu items are handmade grilled sausages, sauerkraut and caraway buns. The smoke wafts on the breeze as diners gather on picnic benches outdoors or inside the rustic wheelchair-accessible restaurant. Laborers who built the Old Stone Bridge in the 12th century purchased meals from this kitchen.
The oldest and largest park in the city, Regensburg’s Stadtpark is home to a pond, puppet theater and wheelchair-accessible contemporary art museum. Located west of the city center, the pebbled surfaces of the park’s lanes are manageable in a manual wheelchair.
Schottenkirche St. Jakob
Also known as Scots Church of St. James, Schottenkirche St. Jakob is a Romanesque church with intricate carvings whose meanings are a mystery to archaeologists and art historians. It’s located on the northern portal of St. Jacob’s Church. Founded by Celtic missionaries from Ireland in the 12th century, the fascinating facade is encased in a protective glass cover and can be seen close up by climbing one step.
Regensburg is an old city with some serious history, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that you can visit ruins of a Roman fort built in 179 A.D. The most impressive ruins are an arched gate, Porta Praetoria, built by Emperor Marcus Aurelius as part of a fortress. Walk along Unter den Schwibbögen, and you’ll see more remains of the Roman wall.
Regensburg is filled with boutique shops, but they’re closed Sundays, and some of them are quite small and impossible to explore in a wheelchair. However, during our weekend visit, an annual antique fair was held on Sunday with vendors selling everything from toys and jewelry to kitchen goods and furniture. Old Town is pedestrian-friendly and compact. We spent hours wandering the labyrinth of streets where cars are not allowed.
Where To Stay
The Sorat Insel-Hotel Regensburg is steps away from the Old Stone Bridge. Our wheelchair-accessible guest room located on the first floor contained two beds, a television and a large bathroom with a roll-in shower. The hotel (sorat-hotels.com/en/hotel/regensburg.html) provides a breakfast banquet with a lovely view of the Danube. Several steps appear before entering the restaurant, and a steep portable ramp provides access.
For more information on Regensburg, visit tourismus.regensburg.de/en. The website features a barrier-free brochure in the Downloads section listed under About Regensburg, but it’s only available in German. However, it features a two-page map with a color-coded key of the six types of surfaces you will encounter while navigating the old city center.
Jim and Barbara Twardowski cover the travel industry, writing about baby boomer and accessible travel, accommodations, culinary/cultural offerings and destinations.
Exploring Our World - Romantic & Historic Regensburg
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