Regensburg

Regensburg

[rey-guhns-boork]
Regensburg, city (1994 pop. 125,337), Bavaria, SE Germany, a port at the confluence of the Danube (Donau) and Regen rivers. In English it is known as Ratisbon. The city is a commercial, industrial, and transportation center; its manufactures include electronics, wood products, and motor vehicles. There are shipyards in the city, and the ports are a busy interchange along the Danube.

Regensburg, one of the oldest German cities, is a cultural center with many historic monuments. Dating back, as Radasbona, to Celtic times, it was an important Roman frontier station, known as Castra Regina. An abbey was founded there in the mid-7th cent., and St. Boniface established an episcopal see in 739. Regensburg was captured (788) by Charlemagne when he subjugated Bavaria. The city was one of the most prosperous commercial centers of medieval Germany, trading especially with India and the Middle East. In 1245, Regensburg was made a free imperial city; part of the adjacent countryside, however, remained in ecclesiastical hands.

The city proper accepted the Reformation in the 16th cent., but soon thereafter it was strongly influenced by the Roman Catholic Counter Reformation (late 16th cent.). Its commerce declined in the 15th and 16th cent., as a result of the shifting of international trade routes. In the Thirty Years War, Regensburg, garrisoned by Bavarian troops, was bombarded and captured (1633) by the Protestant general Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar, but it was recovered (1634) by imperial forces under Ferdinand of Hungary and Bohemia (later Emperor Ferdinand III).

Regensburg was frequently the meeting place of the imperial diet from 1532, and from 1663 to 1806 it was the permanent seat of the diet. The diet that met there from 1801 to 1803 under the influence of Napoleon Bonaparte completely reorganized the moribund Holy Roman Empire. The city and the bishopric of Regensburg (later raised to an archbishopric) were given, with Aschaffenburg, to K. T. von Dalberg. In 1810 the city passed to Bavaria and became the capital of the Upper Palatinate. Regensburg was bombed extensively by the Allies in World War II, largely because it was an airplane-manufacturing center; most of its medieval buildings survived with surprisingly little damage.

Noteworthy structures of the city include the Gothic cathedral (13th-16th cent.); parts of the Porta Praetoria, a Roman gate (built A.D. 179); the Schottenkirche St. Jakob, a 12th-century church; an 11th-century chapel (with later decoration in the rococo style); the old city hall (14th-18th cent.), where the imperial diet met; and St. Emmeram, the episcopal residence (a former Benedictine convent founded in the 7th cent.). The church of the Benedictine convent, with foundations dating from the 8th cent. to the 12th cent. and with an 18th-century baroque interior, contains the tombs of Emperor Arnulf and of Louis the Child. Regensburg is the seat of a university (founded 1965) and schools of engineering and church music. The city was a residence of the painter Albrecht Altdorfer and the astronomer Johannes Kepler, both of whom died there.

Regensburg (['reːgənsbʊɐk], also Ratisbon, Ratisbona, Řezno, originally Castra Regina) is a city (population 131,000 in 2007) in Bavaria, Germany, located at the confluence of the Danube and Regen rivers, at the northernmost bend in the Danube. To the east lies the Bavarian Forest. Regensburg is the capital of the Bavarian administrative region Upper Palatinate. The large medieval center of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

History

The first settlements in Regensburg date to the Stone Age. The Celtic name Radasbona was the oldest name given to a settlement near the present city. Around AD 90 the Romans built a small "cohort-fort" in what would now be the suburbs.

In 179 the Roman fort Castra Regina ("fortress by the river Regen") was built for Legio III Italica during the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. It was an important camp on the most northern point of the Danube: it corresponds to what is today the core of Regensburg's Altstadt ("Old City") east of the Obere and Untere Bachgasse and West of the Schwanenplatz. It is believed that even in late Roman times it was the seat of a bishop, and St Boniface re-established the Bishopric of Regensburg in 739.

From the early 6th century, Regensburg was the seat of the Agilolfa ruling family, and in 843, Regensburg was the seat of the Eastern Frankish ruler, Louis II the German. From about 530 to the first half of the 13th century, it was the capital of Bavaria. In 1135–46 a bridge across the Danube, the Steinerne Brücke, was built. This stone bridge opened major international trade routes between Northern Europe and Venice, and this started Regensburg's golden age as a city of wealthy trading families. Regensburg became the cultural center of southern Germany and was celebrated for its gold work and fabrics.

In 845, fourteen Bohemian princes came to Regensburg to receive baptism there. This was the starting point of Christianization of the Czech people, and the diocese of Regensburg became the mother diocese of Prague. These events had a wide impact on the cultural history of the Czech lands, as consequently they were incorporated in the Roman Catholic and not into the Slavic-Orthodox world. The fact is well remembered, and a memorial plate at St John's Church (the alleged place of the baptism) was unveiled a few years ago, commemorating the incident in the Czech and German languages.

In 1245 Regensburg became a Free Imperial City and was a trade center before the shifting of trade routes in the late Middle Ages. At the end of the 15th century Regensburg became part of the Duchy of Bavaria in 1486, but its independence was restored by the Holy Roman Emperor in 1496.

The city adopted the Protestant Reformation in 1542, and its Town Council remained entirely Lutheran until the incorporation of the city into the Principality of Regensburg under Carl von Dalberg in 1803. A minority of the population stayed Roman Catholic and Roman Catholics were excluded from civil rights ("Bürgerrecht"). The town of Regensburg must not be confused with the Bishopric of Regensburg. Although the Imperial city had adopted the Reformation, the town remained the seat of a Roman Catholic bishop and several abbeys. Three of the latter, St. Emmeram, Niedermünster and Obermünster, were estates of their own within the Holy Roman Empire, meaning that they were granted a seat and a vote at the Imperial diet (Reichstag). So there was the unique situation that the town of Regensburg comprised five independent "states" (in terms of the Holy Roman Empire): the Protestant city itself, the Roman Catholic bishopric and the three monasteries mentioned above.

From 1663 to 1806, the city was the permanent seat of the Reichstag of the Holy Roman Empire. Thus Regensburg was one of the central towns of the Empire, attracting visitors in large numbers. In 1803 the city lost its status as a free city. It was handed over to the Archbishop of Mainz and Archchancellor of the Holy Roman Empire Carl von Dalberg in compensation for Mainz, which had become French under the terms of the Treaty of Lunéville in 1801. The archbishopric of Mainz was formally transferred to Regensburg. Dalberg united the bishopric, the monsteries and the town itself, making up the Principality of Regensburg (Fürstentum Regensburg). Dalberg strictly modernised public life. Most importantly he awarded equal rights to Protestants and Roman Catholics. In 1810 Dalberg ceded Regensburg to the Kingdom of Bavaria, he himself being compensated by the towns of Fulda and Hanau being given to him under the title of "Grand Duke of Frankfurt".

Between April 19 and April 23 1809, Regensburg was the scene of the Battle of Ratisbon between forces commanded by Baron de Coutaud (the 65th Ligne) and retreating Austrian forces. It was eventually overrun after supplies and ammunition ran out. The city suffered severe damage during the fight with about 150 houses being burnt and others being looted.

During World War II, Regensburg was an Area Headquarters of Military District XIII (Wehrkreis XIII), under the command of Lieutenant General Bruno Edler von Kiesling auf Kieslingstein. This Area Command was in charge of the military forces of Regensburg, Passau, Straubing, Weiden and Amberg. On August 17, 1943 during the war, industrial facilities in Regensburg and nearby Schweinfurt were the target of the Schweinfurt-Regensburg mission, a bombing raid flown by B-17 Flying Fortresses of the U.S. Army Air Forces. Regensburg was the site of a facility at which Messerschmitt Bf 109 aircraft were built.

In contrast to almost all other major German cities, Regensburg had little damage from Allied air raids during World War II and thus has an almost intact medieval city center, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The most important cultural loss is the Romanesque church of Obermünster, which was completely destroyed in an air raid in March 1945 and never rebuilt; only the belfry survived.

Main sights

  • The Dom (Cathedral) is a very interesting example of pure German Gothic and counts as the main work of Gothic architecture in Bavaria. It was founded in 1275 and completed in 1634, with the exception of the towers, which were finished in 1869. The interior contains numerous interesting monuments, including one of Peter Vischer's masterpieces. Adjoining the cloisters are two chapels of earlier date than the cathedral itself, one of which, known as the old cathedral, goes back perhaps to the 8th century. The official choir for the liturgical music at St Peter's Cathedral are the famous Regensburger Domspatzen.
  • The Stone Bridge, built 1135–1146, is a highlight of medieval bridge building. The knights of the 2nd and 3rd crusade used it to cross the Danube on their way to the Holy Land.
  • The Church of St. James, also called Schottenkirche, a Romanesque basilica of the 12th century, derives its name from the monastery of Irish Benedictines (Scoti) to which it was attached; the principal doorway is covered with very singular grotesque carvings. It stands next to the Jakobstor, a mediæval city gate named after it.
  • The old parish church of St. Ulrich is a good example of the Transition style of the 13th century, and contains a valuable antiquarian collection. It houses the diocesan museum for religious art.
  • Examples of the Romanesque basilica style are the church of Obermünster, dating from 1010, and the abbey church of St. Emmeram, built in the 13th century, remarkable as one of the few German churches with a detached bell tower. The beautiful cloisters of the ancient abbey, one of the oldest in Germany, are still in fair preservation. In 1809 the conventual buildings were converted into a palace for the prince of Thurn and Taxis, hereditary postmaster-general of the Holy Roman Empire.
  • Wealthy patrician families competed against each other to see who would be able to build the highest tower of the city. In 1260, the Goldener Turm (golden tower) was built in Wahlenstraße.
  • The Town Hall, dating in part from the 14th century, contains the rooms occupied by the Imperial diet from 1663 to 1806.
  • A historical interest is also attached to the Gasthof zum Goldenen Kreuz (Golden Cross Inn), where Charles V made the acquaintance of Barbara Blomberg, the mother of Don John of Austria (born 1547). The house is also the place where Kepler died in 1630.
  • Perhaps the most pleasant modern building in the city is the Gothic villa of the king of Bavaria on the bank of the Danube.
  • Among the public institutions of the city are the public library, picture gallery, botanical garden, and the institute for the making of stained glass. The city's Gymnasien (high schools) include an episcopal clerical seminary, and a school of church music.
  • St. Emmeram's Abbey, now known as Schloss Thurn und Taxis, is a huge castle owned by the powerful Thurn and Taxis family.

Near Regensburg there are two very handsome Classical buildings, erected by Ludwig I of Bavaria as national monuments of German patriotism and greatness. The more imposing of the two is the Walhalla, a costly reproduction of the Parthenon, erected as a Teutonic temple of fame on a hill rising from the Danube at Donaustauf, 15 km to the east. The interior, which is as rich as coloured marble, gilding, and sculptures can make it, contains the busts of more than a hundred German worthies. The second of King Ludwig's buildings is the Befreiungshalle at Kelheim, 30 km above Regensburg, a large circular building which has for its aim the glorification of the heroes of the 1813 War of Liberation.

Economy

BMW operates an automobile production plant in Regensburg; the Regensburg BMW plant produces approximately 1,000 3-series and 1-series BMW vehicles per day. Other major employers are Siemens with its subsidiary Osram Opto-Semiconductors and Siemens VDO (now Continental) with the headquarters of its car component business. Infineon, the former Siemens semiconductor branch, has a medium-sized factory in Regensburg. Other well known companies such as Maschinenfabrik Reinhausen, Toshiba or KRONES have built plants in or near Regensburg.

The University of Regensburg and trading also play a major role in Regensburg's economy. Some Hightech-Biotech Companies were also founded in Regensburg and have their headquarters and laboratories in the "BioPark".

Transport

Regensburg can easily be reached from Munich by train, which takes about 1.5 hours. The city lies also on two motorways, the A3 from Cologne and Frankfurt to Vienna, and the A93 from Munich to Dresden. The city is also connected by "Bundestraßen", namely the B8, B15, and B16. The local transport is carried out by an intensive bus network.

Notable residents

Sister cities

See also

External links

References

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