You can’t miss Regensburg Cathedral on a walk through the city. We were also drawn to the city’s most important church.
History of Regensburg Cathedral
In 1272 and 1273, the old cathedral in Regensburg burned down. In 1275, work began on a new church building.
In 1295, Master Ludwig was appointed master builder of the cathedral. He now consistently pushed ahead with the new planning and completed existing sections of the building. The result was a Gothic building inspired by the Gothic cathedrals in France.
During construction, the cathedral chapter moved from the old Regensburg Cathedral to the new building. Presumably, the old cathedral was now used as a cathedral building lodge.
A little later, construction initially came to a standstill. The collegiate church of St. John stood in the way and only after long negotiations was the building land released. In order not to remain idle during this time, construction continued in a different direction. By 1380, all problems had been solved and construction could continue as planned.
If you read further into the building history of the cathedral, you realise that there were also buildings that were erected really slowly in the past. In 1443, the nave was given a roof. The entire cathedral was now roofed and could be used. By about 1500, part of the north tower had also been completed. From 1525 onwards, the Regensburgs ran out of money – construction came to a standstill. It was not until a good 100 years later that construction continued and the first areas were redesigned. From 1859 onwards, the cathedral towers were extended and the spires completed, and in 1872, after 600 years of construction, the cathedral was finished.
Legend of the cathedral building
There are numerous legends told in Regensburg. One of them deals with the building of the cathedral.
According to legend, the master builder of the cathedral and the master builder of the stone bridge had made a bet as to which of them would finish the construction first. Unfortunately, the bridge construction did not go as the master builder had wished and it looked as if the cathedral would be finished sooner.
The master bridge builder then made a pact with the devil. If he helped him and the bridge was finished first, the first three souls to cross the bridge would belong to the devil.
The devil agreed to the deal and indeed the master builder finished building the bridge in front of the cathedral. The day of the inauguration came and the devil waited anxiously for his three souls. The master builder, not at all stupid, first drove a dog, a hen and a cock over the new stone bridge. Oh, how angry the devil was at this move of the bridge builder. He was so angry that he wanted to tear down the bridge again.
One should not really believe this story. The construction of the cathedral only began in the second half of the 13th century, while the Stone Bridge was already built between 1135 and 1146.
Tour around Regensburg Cathedral
The exterior façade is richly decorated. I was quite excited when I discovered not only figures that clearly belong to the Christian faith, but also lions, monkeys, pigs, dragons and demons. It’s really worth craning your neck a bit here and taking a closer look.
If you walk around the cathedral, you come to what is now the Dombauhütte, which stands on the site of the former cathedral cemetery…
Soon after the construction of the cathedral was completed, it was noticed that the increasing air pollution had already caused the first weathering damage. In 1923, the state-owned Dombauhütte was founded, which has been responsible for all work on the cathedral since then.
Here you can see building elements standing that need to be restored. The main portal of the cathedral alone has over 170 figures that were restored by 2010. You can imagine that the work never stops here for the staff of the cathedral’s construction lodge.
In the Regensburg Cathedral
We were only in the cathedral for a short time. I particularly liked the high altar made of silver and gilded copper and the pulpit on the first southern nave pillar.
But I find the beautiful windows much more impressive. Here you can still discover medieval stained glass. Of course, not all the windows are preserved, but I also find the added windows really beautiful.
Yes, and we did look for and find one special feature in the cathedral – the image of the devil’s grandmother. To the left and right of the main portal are animal-like sculptures carved in stone. One creature, which looks like a mixture of eagle, lion and fish, is supposed to represent the devil. The other figure looks more like a dragon and is supposed to show the grandmother.
There is a legend that says that the devil wanted to take a closer look at the church whose construction he had obstructed. He took his grandmother with him and they both went into the church at night. The visit lasted longer than expected and both fell asleep exhausted. When the door was opened in the morning, they hid in the dark niches next to the door and turned to stone.
Since no one knows the exact origin of the figures, there is only conjecture to this day. Perhaps it was only a stonemason who wanted to warn the cathedral visitors of the evil forces.
April, May, October
daily: 6.30 – 18 h
June – September
daily: 6.30 – 19 h
November to March
daily 6.30 am – 5 pm