Every one of our destination cities has had some very distinctive characteristics and Passau, Germany, did not disappoint. It is uniquely situated on the confluence of 3 rivers, the Danube, the Inn and the Ilz, near the Austrian and Czech borders.
Because of this location, it was and is a wealthy city. In earlier history, the city was on the salt route from Salzburg and it could charge fees for docking, storage, distribution, etc. Its strategic location also attracted the interest of the Catholic Church and it was ruled by Prince Archbishops.
In 1662 a great fire destroyed the town and the Bishop enlisted the some noted Italian architects and craftsmen to rebuild the city, giving it the appearance of "the Venice of Bavaria." Their style was very baroque and it survives on almost every corner.
For 8 of us early risers, our Tauck tour directors took us on a hike up the hill opposite the city center to the fortress "Veste Oberhaus." It was built in 1219 to control commerce and protect the city. The fortress has been changed over the centuries and reflects gothic, renaissance and baroque designs.
The views from the fortress are fantastic. In the first you can see 2 of the 3 rivers - the Inn and the Danube - and the massive St. Stephen's Cathedral. background a pilgrimage church dedicated to Mary. If you look closely, you can see a covered walkway leading up to the church where people would climb the stairs on their knees for penance.
After breakfast we did our group tour of the city. Unfortunately, it started to rain, so we only caught part of it. Along the water we saw this old salt tower from the Middle Ages, but what is really remarkable is the high water line from the flood in late spring of 2013.
I walked around on my own for awhile, to admire the architecture. Here is a close up of the Town Hall.
Then I went to the Glass Museum which is housed in the Wilder Mann Hotel.
At noon we were invited to an organ concert at St. Steven's Cathedral, located at the town's highest point.
The organ was built in 1928 and is unique because it has 5 separate organs -- that can be played separately or simultaneously. This is a shot of the "Gospel" organ.
We headed back for lunch on the boat and spent the afternoon relaxing and getting ready to disembark tomorrow while the boat cruised up the Danube. It rained a lot, but it didn't matter since we were inside.