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December 29, 2005

(Written March 12 -- after a more-than-usual delay)


Dear Friends and Families,

Passau wasn't originally on our short Christmas trip. We had thought we'd just go to Regensburg and back, but Passau seemed too close to pass up. Consequently, we did a quick drive-through. Now, we know we should spend more time but, hopefully, in warmer weather.

Because of the confluence of the Rivers Ilz and Inn into the Danube, Passau is known as the Venice of Bavaria. If that sounds too melodramatic, the local travel brochure will remind you that Napoleon considered Passau the most beautiful German city he had ever conquered. The town was famous as a sword-making center in the 13th and 14th Centuries and during that time the local bishop wrote the Nibelungenlied, a famous German epic poem.

Unfortunately, our visit was too brief for anything really serious, other than a walk through a few of the streets on our way to visit the largest organ in the world. Here are our snapshots.

Our one goal was St. Stephens Cathedral (Dom). The church sits on a square near the point where the Inn River flows into the Danube. The walk up from the old town is fairly steep, but the view is worth it. The church itself looks spectacular, as we have come to expect European churches to be. The Dom was built over the foundation of an earlier church that had been destroyed in the 1662 fire that had also destroyed most of the town.
Inside, the gilded pulpit stood out in the bright, white interior. Even more spectacular however, was the church organ, the largest in the world with 233 stops and 17,974 pipes.

Walking down from St. Stephens, the cold winds were keeping the streets empty. Down on the banks of the Danube, the buildings across the river seemed like something out of a model railroad set. The light snow dusting gave the perfect backdrop.

So, we drove two hours down from Regensburg for a two hour stop in Passau. Was it worth it? Yes. But, once again, we must expand our must-return-to list.


John and Marianne

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