Passau is a town in Lower Bavaria and It is also known as the Dreiflüssestadt or "City of Three Rivers," because the Danube is joined at Passau by the Inn from the south and the Ilz from the north.
Framed by Oberhaus fortress to the north and Our Lady of Mercy pilgrimage church to the south, this breathtakingly beautiful town is dominated by the buildings of Italian architects. For it was the Italians who rebuilt Passau after the great fires of the 17th century, turning it into a combination of royal residence and thriving centre of trade that allowed the arts to flourish.
Towering majestically above Passau is St. Stephen's Cathedral, the mother church of the eastern Danube region and of St. Stephen's Church in Vienna. This imposing baroque structure contains the largest cathedral organ in the world. Today, Passau is an exciting fusion of old and new – a place that, for all its great traditions, is still modern and welcoming. If you take a stroll from the old town through the pedestrian centre to the Neue Mitte (New Centre) with its chic shops, you can veer off into Höllgasse along the way, where you'll find yourself in the artists' quarter with its beautiful historical buildings occupied by studios, workshops and galleries. The market held there twice weekly is a feast for the senses – as are the wood markets and Christmas market during the festive season, and the annual street festivals held throughout the town. In the local eateries and high-end restaurants, you can sample the best of Bavarian, Austrian and international cuisine, while a good time is to be had in Passau's many bars, bistros, cafés and traditional inns.
Veste Oberhaus is one of Europe's largest and most majestic castles. Built in 1219 and extended over the centuries, this restored fortress is a monument to European culture. It was acquired in 1932 by the town of Passau, which established a museum within its walls. Permanent exhibitions on life in the castle and the history of Passau are on display here alongside a programme of one-off shows. The Oberhaus Museum is one of Europe's largest and most beautifully located municipal museums.
Accommodation and cuisine in Passau
In Passau, there is always time to eat, drink and be merry. In over 130 restaurants and traditional inns, guests can indulge themselves with a wide range of fine food and drink, from Austro-Bavarian specialities to dishes from around the world. Or they can kick back at more than 30 cafés as well as at bars and bistros, or while away the evening in one of the traditional beer and wine gardens. And don't miss the over 200-year-old Bayerischer Löwe inn, where an irresistible combination of Bavarian hospitality and traditional local dishes is guaranteed to give you a warm welcome. If you prefer things a little quieter, head for the Burgwald hotel and restaurant, close to the centre yet surrounded by nature. Here you'll find first class service, hearty local food and various leisure activities on offer in the surrounding areas. It's the ideal way to spend a few relaxing days at the edge of the Bavarian Forest.
On the highest point of Passau's old quarter stands the magnificent St. Stephan's Cathedral with its outstanding examples of baroque architecture and art. After it was almost completely destroyed by the great town fire of 1662, the cathedral was brilliantly resurrected by the famous architect Carlo Lurago. Hearing the largest cathedral organ in the world, whose 17,974 pipes and 233 stops ring out to the glory of God, is an experience you will never forget. From May to October and during Christmas week, this masterpiece can be heard daily (excl. Sundays and public holidays) at midday concerts and on Thursdays (excl. public holidays) at evening concerts.
The recently refurbished Kastell Boiotro (Fort Boiotro) Roman museum is devoted almost entirely to finds from Passau dating from pre-historical times to the end of the Roman empire in 476 AD. Four hundred years of Roman rule at the northern reaches of the empire are documented here with over 600 exhibits. There are models, figurines and information in German and English, as well as new media, touchscreens and audio posts. Exhibits in the basement focus on trade and commerce in Passau from the Stone Age to the Roman era. Here, with the aid of a light installation, the visitor can explore the museum's most important exhibit: the fort itself. The western wall and the extensions from the Middle Ages to the present day can be illuminated for short periods via touchscreen, bringing up commentary and offering a fascinating view of the fort's 1,700 year history.
The Museum of Modern Art is a vibrant cultural institution set in the historical old quarter of Passau. The architect Hanns Egon Wörlen, son of the painter Georg Philipp Wörlen, acquired this building complex at the end of the 1980s and renovated it in line with listed building guidelines. Despite having undergone several transformations since Gothic times, the building still has its original Passau ceilings and is worth seeing as an exhibit in its own right. The art alone, however, is a good enough reason to visit this private museum, which houses the artworks and writings of Georg Philipp Wörlen and various other collections. The museum has so far presented over 200 exhibitions seen by visitors from all over Germany. Artists featured include Max Beckmann, Joseph Beuys, Marc Chagall, Lyonel Feininger, Keith Haring, Yves Klein, Oskar Kokoschka, Egon Schiele, Emil Schumacher and Günther Uecker. There have also been joint exhibitions of Czech, Slovakian, Austrian and Hungarian artists.
The Cathedral Treasure and Diocese Museum houses some 200 artistic masterpieces dating from the Roman era to the baroque, along with 100 exhibits of splendid liturgical costumes, monstrances and Gothic panel paintings.
Activities in Passau
Life in Passau has always been characterised by water and shipping. In days gone by, ships would carry heroes and adventurers to the Orient or transport goods such as salt. Today's journeys are not quite so ambitious. Departing from the jetty in the old town, pleasure boats set off on short sightseeing trips and excursions, as well as on longer river tours to Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest, or through the Carpathian mountains to the Danube Delta on the Black Sea. The local cruise company offers a 'three rivers tour' around the town as well as excursions lasting several hours into the Bavarian and Austrian Danube valley. There are also evening cruises with music and dancing, buffet trips on a gala ship, and various themed outings. For a really special experience, take the Danube Ark, where you can combine the experience of a nostalgic, old-style pleasure cruise with traditional entertainment and hearty food. A beguiling river cruise also awaits you on the Inn river, where you'll sail through the outlying areas of the Lower Inn European Nature Reserve and into nearby Schärding. From on board, the huge Inn gorge looks even bigger, and the other sights of the region make a trip along the Inn unmissable.
Thanks to its location at the confluence of three rivers – the Danube, Inn and Ilz – Passau is a hub of national and international long-distance cycle routes. The following routes either start, end or meet here:
1. From Donaueschingen to Passau
2. From Passau to Vienna
3. Bad Gögging to Passau
4. Passau to Attersee
5. from Passau to Maloja in Switzerland
6. from Neumarkt in Upper Palatinate to Passau
7. from Prague to Passau
Cycle routes from Passau also offer access to cycle paths along the rivers Iller, Lech, Altmühl, Naab, Regen, Laaber, Isar, Vils, Rott and Salzach.
With over 500 stores, Passau offers a wide choice of products and attractive shops, all within walking distance of one another. The diverse pedestrianised area is home to small, quirky boutiques, specialist retailers and a large shopping mall.
Passau: the Bavarian town more famous for wine than beer.
Passau is the town on three rivers famed for its mediterranean charm, its picturesque lanes of shops and cafés, its Oberhaus fortress and its beautiful baroque old quarter with St. Stephen's Cathedral and the world's largest cathedral organ. The town is also known for its love of good food and drink, as evidenced by the huge number of bistros and pubs, cafés and bars, exquisite restaurants and traditional taverns. There's more than just quality Bavarian beer on the drinks lists, since Passau is renowned for its home-produced wines. Riesling and grüner veltliner are just two of the grape varieties that have been grown on the local vineyards for centuries. There's even a special package break for wine lovers to discover the town:
- one night's accommodation with breakfast buffet
- glass of sekt on arrival
- guided tour of baroque quarter (one or two hours)
- voucher for two luxury wine chocolates - three-course wine-themed menu with 'Frackerl' abbey wine (price available on request)
Did you know that Passau's Bürgerliche Heiliggeist-Stiftung began cultivating vines on the Wachau/Austrian border in 1358 and still runs the Heilig Geist tavern in Passau?
Bahnhofstrasse 28 + Rathausplatz
Tel.: +49 (0)851 955 980
Fax: +49 (0)851 35107