Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Regensburg - Day 11

Sunday, September 14
Today was the day we disembarked our lovely boat and headed to Prague.
But not before we explored the city of Regensburg on the Danube - which looked small to us but actually has a population of 150,000 and manufactures BMWs.
Its claim to fame is that it was also an important trading city in the Middle Ages and has the oldest stone bridge in Germany. Constructed in 1135, it connects the two parts of the city and spans two arms of the river. Over 900 ft. long with 16 arches and 3 towers, it is currently undergoing a $25 million renovation. Guess it was about time. It was covered in scaffolding so no good photos, except for this one of the ancient salt storage building next to it.
Its other claim to fame is that the Romans came here in 179 AD to build a massive stone fortress to protect their northern border. Civilians lived nearby to produce food and clothing and so it morphed into a city known as the "Castle at River Regen" (the Roman name) and then Regensburg. Today part of a tower and a portal are still standing and we passed through it to the Old City Center.
This city, like all the others along the Danube, have expensive designer stores, but this one also had an array of art boutiques, representing fine art to glass and lots of jewelry in between. Fortunately, no time to shop and no real interest, not to mention space in the suitcase.
One of the architectural features that our guide pointed out are the huge towers dotting the city.  Apparently, when they were constructed in the 12th and 13th centuries, they were a mark of wealth by their owners, usually merchants who displayed their wares over the balconies. Today only the students at the University of Regensburg are willing to climb 11-12 flights of stairs to their un-air conditioned apartments.
Continuing on our tour, we saw the old town hall with its clock tower
and then came to a lovely square. At one time the city had a large Jewish community. But in 1520 the city was having a lot of problems and blamed it on the Jews. So they expelled them, a frequent historical theme. To keep them from returning, the residents leveled their neighborhood. Twenty years ago they found the remains of the synagogue and many of the homes. Today, where the synagogue was, is a lovely square with a Protestant Luthern church in the background.
The last place on the tour was the Cathedral of St. Peter. Construction was started in 1273 but it wasn't really finished until 1870 because they kept running out of money. Because of that, several different colors of stones are used. 
It is a prime example of French gothicism. In this method, the walls do not support the weight, but rather, interior columns do. This allows for beautiful stain glass windows, several of them from the Middle Ages.  
Because this church is such a treasure to the city, every citizen is taxed to support it; and the ongoing renovations cost $1 million a year.
After our tour, Ed and I had lunch at Cafe Toujours, my sentiments (coffee always), and I had the best quiche outside of Paris. Loved the ambience, too.
To catch our bus, we strolled across the old stone bridge, which gave us great views of the city with the cathedral in the background.
The we took a 3-1/2 hour bus ride to Prague and it poured down rain the whole way. Oh well, rather in a bus than touring. 
We checked in to the Marriott and took a walking tour of old town. Looking forward to exploring it. Ed and I had seen a cute restaurant nearby and were told they were booked for 2 days. We love a challenge. We walked over about 6:30 and guess what? Just had a cancellation for 2. The food and ambience was just fabulous and not expensive. The restaurant is Cafe Imperial and worth any effort. Ed had the veal cheeks and I had the rabbit.
Exhausted from a long day, we turned in early.

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