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December 28 & 29, 2005

(Written March 12th, after TOO long a delay!)


Dear Friends and Families,


Our Christmas travels were limited this year. We had to stay around our home re-construction but managed a two-day break to drive a few hours south to Regensburg and Passau. These are very old towns, even by German standards. Regensburg is in the Roman history records as far back as 179AD. In the 6th Century, it was the capital of the Duchy of Bavaria and a millennium later it had become the home of the first permanent advisory body, a first German parliament. Eventually, Regensburg fell behind the other Bavarian centers of Nurenburg, Augsburg and, most recently, Munich.

Our visit included a nice hotel, a good museum, an impressive cathedral, and an ancient bridge. None of these might be unusual here in Germany, but all together Regensburg's sense and feel was one of lived-in history. Here's some of what we saw.


Saint Johannes church was our first tourist stop. It is actually older than the 13th Century Cathedral next door and much simpler, more a chapel than a church.


The Dom or Cathedral towered above the center of Regensburg. It was mid-way in a program to remove centuries of dirt. The difference between the old sooty surface and the original stone was remarkable.

Inside, the Christmas tree made us feel at home.

Also inside, the carved reliefs added to the Christmas meaning.


Connected to one side of the Dom is the Domschatz Museum. This museum holds a remarkable collection of golden objects from the past glories of Regensburg, when it was still the center of Bavaria and beneficiary of wealthy kings, princes, and bishops. (http://www.bistumsmuseen-regensburg.de)


Even more impressive than the golden chalices and altar pieces were the vestments. There were a dozen of the most elaborately decorated garments we'd ever seen. The gold thread sparkled and the colors of the material were amazing, especially considering the age of everything.


After being dazzled by the gold of Regensburg's religious princes, we visited the Schloss Thurn and Taxis. The Thurn and Taxis family gained their wealth running a mail system in the 17th Century. It proved successful enough to create one of Europe's wealthiest families, one that owns 17% of Regensburg itself. The Schloss is still used as their local residence, although tourists are allowed to visit whenever the family is away. http://www.thurnundtaxis.de/frs_home.html


The other main landmark in town is the Steinerne Bruecke (Stone Bridge). It was built across the Danube from 1135 to 1146. The story is that the bridge's architect promised the devil the first soul to cross the span if he allowed it to be finished before the cathedral towers. When the bridge was indeed finished first, the architect tricked the devil by sending a donkey across as the "first soul".


I think evenings are the most magical time for pictures and digital cameras make them easy. This picture of the town square with the dominating Dom captured the feel of Regensburg. Our hotel, the Bischofshof am Dom, was also even more impressive in the evening lights. (http://hotel-bischofshof.de)

Nice stay. Definitely worth a repeat.


Care to join us?


John and Marianne


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