During our visit to Regensburg, there were so many discoveries on the outskirts – I just had to pay more attention to these places.
1. Do you know the Regensburg city mouse?
A small but really cute landmark of Regensburg is the little city mouse. The little stone mouse is somewhat hidden in a window on Haidplatz.
The little mouse has only found a place here since the renovation of the war damage of the Second World War. The then cathedral architect Richard Triebe gave it a place there.
Of course, there are many stories about how and why the mouse sits right there. Supposedly, the mouse even dates back to the Middle Ages. But that is not true. The first mouse sat there from the 1950s and disappeared during renovation work in 1990. Today, a replica of the original mouse sits there waiting to be stroked by its visitors. Because the saying goes – whoever strokes the mouse will never become as poor as a church mouse or return to Regensburg at least once. Of course we also gave the mouse a stroke – and I honestly hope that both points come true.
2. What are the signs hanging there?
Throughout the old town of Regensburg you can find 76 signs with strange symbols. A reason for me to take a closer look.
The works are by the Regensburg artist Marie Maier and have been distributed throughout the city since 1995. There is always a large symbol on the right-hand side and a compilation of several different symbols on the left-hand side.
If you look a little closer, you can quickly see what is depicted there. They are floor plans of selected houses in the old town. The Old and New Town Halls, 16 churches, 9 patrician houses, 4 gates, 9 palaces, 9 museums, 9 squares, 9 parks and 10 new buildings are depicted. The signs have been coloured differently depending on the category.
The picture on the right always corresponds to the ground plan of the house on which the sign is hanging. On the right, other houses are shown and it invites you to find out which buildings might be meant.
3. Where do the unusual street names come from?
Already when we received the address of our hotel, the very unusual street name caught my eye – “Fröhliche Türken Straße”. During our tour of the old town, I stumbled across other street names that are hard to find in other cities. So I had to take a closer look.
Many of the streets, such as “Rote -Löwen-Straße” (Red Lion Street) or “Blaue Lilien Straße” (Blue Lily Street), received their names from inns that could be found there. Other streets got their names from the professions that were located there – for example “Tändlergasse” with small traders or “Gerbergasse” with tanners.The abandonment of many squares can still be easily recognised by their names today – “Alter Kornmarkt”, “Kohlenmarkt” or “Fischmarkt”.
But there are also other namesakes:
The “Gässchen ohne End” is a dead-end street.
Poetengässchen got its name from the “Poeticum” grammar school located there.
The “Bach-Gasse” used to really be a stream and only after the road surface was closed could one walk along here with dry feet.
Haidplatz was once a meadow. Haid was the name for meadow.
The alley “Zur Schönen Gelegenheit” is often seen very ambiguously. But it is a fact that in former times the term opportunity was to be equated with the location of the village. Yes, and the location on the Danube is simply beautiful.
The “Kuhgässle” owes its name to a legend. A journeyman baker and a cow are said to have once stood opposite each other in this narrow alley. They couldn’t get past each other – the cow is said to have won.
You can find a little story about how each street got its name. Sometimes you just have to search a little until you find the answer.
4. Gravestones in unusual places
To be honest, if it hadn’t been pointed out to me, I probably would have overlooked it. In Regensburg, Jewish gravestones can be found in places where they really have no business being, the so-called Judensteine.
This has to do with the history of the Jews in Regensburg. Initially still welcome fellow citizens, the Jews were blamed for the city’s economic bankruptcy in 1519. The Jewish quarter was destroyed and the people expelled. Even the old Jewish cemetery, which is still not known exactly where it was, was not spared destruction. The dismantling of the gravestones and the “carrying away” of the stones to the city was meant to be an additional sign to the Jewish population.
Some of the people of Regensburg took a gravestone home with them at the time and used them as free building material. You can still discover some in the cityscape today, others are certainly hidden under layers of plaster.
For me, however, one of the most frightening places to find a Jewish gravestone is the hole prison in the old town hall. Here, a stone has been installed as a toilet seat.
5. Regensburg and its towers
During our walk through the old town of Regensburg, I noticed that the cityscape is characterised by many towers. A reason to take another closer look here.
In the Middle Ages, Regensburg is said to have had up to 60 towers. No city north of the Alps had so many towers. The towers arrived in Regensburg from Italy when long-distance trade flourished in the city. The merchants adopted the tower-building competition of their trading partners and carried it to Regensburg.
In the Middle Ages, the family or patrician towers were considered a status symbol for the rich families. One had a tower, just as one has other status symbols today. The towers stood right next to one’s own house and were 20-50 metres high. Here, too, the larger the tower, the richer/ more important the family thought it was.
Today there are still about 20 towers in the city.
Much of the tower is still “fudge” today. On the ground floor was the family’s small chapel and on the first floor there was usually an open portico or a representative room for receptions, sometimes the second floor was still used. Everything that was built above it was empty. The battlements on the tower also served only as decoration.
Take the Baumburg Tower, for example. The second largest tower in Regensburg with its seven storeys was built around 1270. Where the famous Dampfnudel Uli now runs his restaurant used to be the chapel of the house. On the first floor there is a beautiful balcony, which was also used in the past. Above that, there is another floor that is used. All the other floors above are unused, the windows only decoration.
The highest tower in Regensburg’s old town is the “Golden Tower” in Wahlenstraße. It is 50 metres high and has 9 storeys. Today it houses a student dormitory.
Disclosure: The tour of Regensburg is part of our blogger trip to the city. This post was written independently of that.