Passau’s alternative moniker as The City of Three Rivers makes it a natural destination for a river cruise and it’s so-named because it’s the place where the Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers meet. Book virtually any Danube River voyage and you’ll have an opportunity to explore the town. Beginning life as an ancient Roman colony, Passau was one of Germany’s principal weapons manufacturing towns during the Renaissance period and was ravaged by fire in 1662, after which much of it was rebuilt in the Baroque style. Today, almost a fifth of its population comprises students at the town’s university, ensuring a contemporary edge to a destination which is also rich in historic attractions to explore.
Undoubtedly Passau’s star attraction is St Stephen’s Cathedral, a beautiful Italian Baroque place of worship, with striking green onion domes and sculpting on its exterior. The building’s most famous feature however can be found inside; none other than the second-largest cathedral pipe organ in the world, comprising over 17,000 pipes. For fans of organ music a visit to the church is obviously a must, but even if you’re not, it’s certainly something to see with some breathtaking interiors, statues and artworks.
Another popular attraction which is visible wherever you are in the town is the Altes Rathaus, or Old Town Hall, which traces its origins back to the 13th century and its corresponding Town Hall Tower, which is newer and built in the Neo-gothic style, having being completed in 1892. Despite its name it’s where the town’s council still sits today, but many of the rooms are open to the public and there are some great exhibits and artwork to discover. The Old Bishop’s residence is another fascinating building to explore, offering an insight into the lifestyle of those of religious standing and some beautiful architecture and expansions from a number of different historical periods.
Situated on a mountain crest, Veste Oberhaus is great place from which to enjoy the spectacular view of the Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers below and also houses a fascinating museum which tells the story of the town through all periods of its history. Built in 1219, it is a fortress with its own story and was for much of its life the stronghold of the Bishop of Passau.
Should you want more of a historic overview, Passau’s also home to a number of other informative and fascinating museums. Take a trip a little out of the town centre and you’ll find the Romer Museum Kastell Boiotro, which is actually part museum, part archaeological site and tells the story of the area's days of Roman settlement. The clue is in the name when it comes to the subject of Passau’s Glass Museum and if you’re a glass collector, you’ll clearly be in Heaven here, though it’s clearly more about exhibiting than education.
Passau is a great place to eat and boasts no fewer than five breweries, so it’s the perfect destination if you enjoy beer with your meal or like to sample the local brew. A glass of the local brew is generally cheaper in the town’s student area.