Discovering Regensburg

The third city on my list happened to also be the place where The Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC) Regional Secretariat for Northwest Europe and North America is seated – Regensburg. This place cannot be described with anything less than immensely rich history, medieval remains and large heritage. Regensburg was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2006 because of three major criteria.

The beautiful Old Town of Regensburg

First of all, the architecture of the Old Town in Regensburg represents and proves the city’s important role as a trading centre in medieval times. Thank to the Danube river, which runs through the city, Regensburg was a transition point for traders between Italy, Bohemia, Russia and Byzantium. The look of the city has also been largely influenced by different cultures and architecture styles throughout the years.

Secondly, Regensburg was part of the Roman Empire, and roman remains are still to be seen around the city. People can also see the remains of two Palatine palaces from the 9th century, as well as numerous other historic buildings, which showcase the importance and wealth of this are and its community.

Porta Praetoria

Thirdly, the centre of Regensburg was lucky enough to survive the period of the Second World War, and thus preserve its authenticity and medieval vibes. The UNESCO listed part of Regensburg – The Old Town with Stadtamhof, exemplifies what a medieval central-European trading town used to look like.

Stadtamhof

Now a bit about my adventure in Regensburg..

Despite the rain being my company throughout almost my whole journey until now, Regensburg still greeted me in an extremely warm and welcoming manner.

At this point of the journey, realising I still have a long time ahead to spend roaming around Europe completely by myself, gave me a certain level of anxiety. Luckily, I got to meet up with one of the other scholarship winners – Klara, who currently lives in Regensburg. Experiencing the city through the eyes of a local, as well as the night life, was exactly what I needed at this point. Did you know that Regensburg is home to over 500 bars in the city centre alone, which makes it the largest concentration of drinking establishments in all of Germany!?

The next day was spent learning a lot about Regensburg’s history and heritage from the lovely Monika – the organisator of this whole amazing project. Thanks to the fact that she is also a tour guide, Monika was able to tell me so much about her city.

Old Town

Visiting the UNESCO Information centre is an absolute must for everyone who wants to learn more about Regensburg’s history and importance. The centre consists of many interactive displays and ways of learning, suitable even for children. In the same building you can find the stairs, leading up to the top of the clock tower and revealing a fascinating view over the Old Town and the Stone Bridge.

View from the Clock Tower over the Stone Bridge

One of the highlights of my visit in Regensburg was a boat tour along the Danube river. And when I say boat, it is more like a decently sized ship. There were three major reasons why this boat ride turned into an exceptional experience. On one hand, you get to see the city from a different perspective. Observing the beautiful Old Town and Stadtamhof from the water should be on your list of things to do in Regensburg. On the other hand, during the 1-hour trip (one way) I got to make friends and talk with some locals and tourists about why we all chose to visit Regensburg and what other places around the country are worth visiting. And thirdly, the boat took me to one of the biggest attractions of Regensburg – Walhalla – a hall of fame, that honours distinguished people in German history. Walhalla may look impressive in photos, but once you see it in person, you get a completely different feeling for how large and spectacular it is.

Walhalla

I spent 3 days in total in Regensburg and this time was perfect to see pretty much everything and also be able to feel and enjoy the vibes of the city.

Legend from Budapest

The legend i chose for Budapest is one of the many about  King Matthias of Hungary.

Matthias the I (Hungarian: Hunyadi Mátyás), was King of Hungary and Croatia for 32 years between 1458 and 1490. In this time he was also elected to be King of Bohemia and had the titel of Duke of Austria.  After his father, the regend of Hungary died, Matthias was imprisoned along with his older brother, on the orders of King Ladislaus the Posthumous. King Ladislaus was as Duke of Austria, and King of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia. He feared the regands sons. Matthias elder  brother was executed,  the people rebelled and the king fled the country. With the help of his uncle Matthias than became king after King Ladislaus died shortly after he fled Hungary.

Matthias Corvius is now and was for a long time before that prasied by the people. But in his time he was hated and cursed out for the high taxes he introduced to finance a new standing army. Sadly after him there were worst kings and politicans. Because of that and the conquests he made, his reign is now rememberd as a positiv time.

There are many legends about “Matthias the Just”, which he was named because he was rumored to wander among his subjects in disguise, to see for himself if somebody was treated unjustly. He also  rather promoted the careers of people with abilities than of those born into aristocracy.

Matthias is not only part of many hungarian legends, he can be found in many other slavic folktales too.

Today i bring you:

King Matthias and the Shepherd Who Never Lied

also known as: The Lamb with Golden Fleece 

Once upon a time, the Prussian king was a guest in the court of the Hungarian king Matthias. They were good friends.

“I hear you have a lamb with golden fleece” – he said. “Is this true?” – asked the Prussian king. – “Yes” – said Matthias. “And I have a very good shepherd, too. He never lies.” – replied Matthias. – “I can make him lie” – said the king of Prussia with a smile. – “I don’t think so” –  king Matthias doubted. – “Do that, and half of Hungary is yours” – Matthias said. “But I know my shepherd well, and no one can make him lie.” – “I can” – said the Prussian king. “Or half of Prussia is yours, Matthias.” – “Very well” – said the Hungarian king. They agreed.

The Prussian king left to find the shepherd. But first, he changed his clothes and dressed as a peasant. Then he went to look for the shepherd. The Prussian king said hello to the shepherd. – “Greetings, Lord King!” the shepherd answered. – “How do you know me in these clothes?” – “I can hear your voice, and it’s in the way you speak” – answered the shepherd. “What do you want?” – “I have six horses for you” – said the Prussian king. “But first you must give me the lamb with the golden fleece.” – “No!” – said the shepherd. “I can’t steal from King Matthias.” – “I’ll give you a lot of gold if you give me the lamb with the golden fleece” – bargained the king. – “I’m not interested in money, and I can’t give you the lamb. King Matthias will execute me” – the shepherd replied. – “What about ten horses?” – asked the Prussian king. – “No!” – answered the shepherd.

So the king went back home to Prussia. He told his daughter about the shepherd. – “I’d like to meet him” – she said. And she took a bag of gold and a bottle of wine with her.

“Look!” – she said to the shepherd. “I can give you a bag of gold for your sheep with the fleece of gold!” – “Never!” – said the shepherd. “I don’t need your money!”

The princess stayed and persuaded the shepherd to drink some wine with her. After a while he began to feel very happy. “All right” – he said. “Take the sheep with the fleece of gold. But first you must give me a kiss and be my wife.” – “Very well. But I want only the sheep’s fleece, not the meat” – she answered. The girl took the fleece back to her father. And the Prussian king was very happy.

The next day, the shepherd was very upset. He didn’t know how to explain this to King Matthias. He came up with many lies in his mind, but they were all doomed. Finally, he arrived at the throne room. What can I tell him about the fleece? He thinks. I don’t want to lie.

“Good morning!” said King Matthias to him. “What is the news from the field? Where’s the lamb with the fleece of gold?” “I don’t have it any more” – said the shepherd. “I changed it for a black one. Now I have a black lamb.” “I see. And where is this black lamb?” – Asked Matthias angrily. “She is sitting next to you!” – said the shepherd. And he looked at the Prussian king’s daughter. “You told the truth!” – King Matthias said. “As a reward, I’ll give you the Prussian king’s half kingdom that I have won.” “And I give you my daughter” – promised the Prussian king. “I can see you’re in love with her.”

And so it happend that a  shepherd did become the next Prussian king.


The Prussian princess and king are depicted in prussian blue and King Matthias in the colors of Hungary. The shepherd has also some green tones in his trousers to represend this loyalty to the King.

As said before, there are many tales about Matthias and in generall you can’t take a legend as historical accuracy. At the time Matthias lived, Prussia f.e. was not yet a kingdom, only a dukedom in the polish kingdom.

But the tales very well show the princips  King Matthias lived by and which were  important to him f.e. that he valued honesty.

Discovering Augsburg

On the 9th August, my adventure took me to Augsburg – the third largest city in Bavaria, and part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 2019. Augsburg is also Germany’s third oldest city, after Neuss and Trier.

The city welcomed me with a heavy rain, which lasted throughout the whole time I was there, but this didn’t stop me from seeing the reason why Augsburg was listed as a World Heritage Site. The numerous canals and water management systems in the city are impressive, to say the least.

The water system of the city is first mentioned in historical writings in 1276. The city’s first dam was built seventy years later. It is documented that the waterworks at the Red Gate is the oldest existing building of its kind in Germany, perhaps even in Central Europe.

Using a highly advanced hydraulic method for that time, engineers pumped the water into water towers and led it from there. Constructors then used this type of water elevation system in other cities too, such as Vienna, Brussels and Munich. This way of  separation of drinking and waste water was considered unique in 1545. The waterworks at the Hochablass, built in 1879, was also regarded as the model and origin of today’s modern water supply. The water management system includes 22 stations in and around Augsburg, including 190 kilometers of Lech Canal.

Apart from its impressive water management, Augsburg also surprised me with beautiful architecture, lovely streets to roam around and interesting sights to visit.

Walking around town, one cannot just miss the building of the City Hall, as well as Perlach Tower right next to it.

 

 

A must-see, in my opinion, is the ‘Goldener Saal’ in the Town Hall, which is a ceremonial room, famous for its ceiling paintings, murals, and golden wall decoration. It was finished in 1643 and is considered one of the most important cultural monuments of the late Renaissance.

 

 

Another point of interest is the beautiful baroque palace Schatzlerpalais. The palace is home to  dozens of magnificent rooms, courtyards and gardens, as well as an impressive art collection.

 

 

Last but not least, I got the chance to visit the Botanical Garden of Augsburg. The place was incredibly peaceful and full of beautiful flowers of all kinds, that I spend a couple of hours just wandering around.

 

the one with the many construction sites

Before i start at the beginning you have to know that there are two sides to Budapest, Buda on one side and Pest on the other side of the river Danube. A little like the old town and Stadt am Hof at home in Regensburg.

The first day of my travels didn’t start out as easy for me as for my friends who joined me on the first leg of my trip. Shortly before i arrived in Budapest, my phone was stolen in the bus. But because of that i spoke to a lot of helpful tourists and locals.

When my friends arrived later that day at the flat we decided to relax the rest of the day in one of Pests thermal baths: the Széchenyi.

Under the city there is a patchwork of almost 125 thermal springs. They are not just popular with tourists, for locals it’s been part of everyday life for a long time. There are still baths standing that date back to the Turkish occupation, others have been updated f.e. in a beautiful Art Nouveau style.

On Saturday we started our day strolling down the Andrássy street to the heroes square. Our hunger drove us to the food market, where you can get all kinds of Hungarian specialities like langos, fishsoup, goulash and more. And of course all ingredince to cook them yourself. We also found Café Frei, which does have typical coffees from all around the world.

As the day went on we tried to explore as much of the city center as we could. All around the city we noticed little bronze statues. For example the Little Princess at the riverside of the Danube. And an Installation of shoes on the river bank to remember the victims of the holocaust and those who survived it.

Next was the Royal Palace but to get in, we had to buy a festival ticket first. Why you ask? Because of the upcoming celebrations of the national holiday, a festival with traditional craftsmanship and music was held in the courts of the castle. Once we where in, it was worth it. There where not only local shoemakers, woodworkers, etc but also some from other parts of the world. I had seen simalar traditional dresses as our bavarian ones  but i never knew that the Hungarian had a tradition to make gingerbread hearts like we do too. Of course they differ and i was curious to find out why the had a mirror in them. The baker told me that the mirror protects you from bad luck.

I found out later that the gingerbread craft is also part of the intangible world heritage since 2010.

In the next picture you can see the Buda Castle at sundown. What is fascinating about the Royal Palace to me, is it’s architectural history. Time and time again the palace was destroyed, rebuild or had to be redesigned, because there wasn’t enough left to go on. The monarchs could have given up and for example rebuild on the more secure Gellért Hill, but they wanted to stay near their people and the city center. So now there are literally layers of history beneath the Királyi Vár.

Close to the Royal Palace we got our hands on some traditional cakes like the Dobos cake. After relaxing we visited the Halászbástya – Fisherman’s Bastion. This neo-romanesque masterpiece was originally part of the castle and protected by the fisherman’s guild, which worked and lived near the Bastion. The seven towers represent the seven chiefs of the hungarian tribes.

Another thing to see in the world heritage Buda Castle district is the Matthias Church. The building has other names too but this one stuck. As did the many legends and tales about King Matthias of Hungary, which the building was named after.

After freshening up we explored the night life on the Pest side. The famous Ruin Pubs were just amazing. Rooms with bathtubs to sit in, rooms that looked like an abandoned botanical garden and so much more wonderous things.

On the last day we hiked up the Gellért Hill. Named after a christan bishop, which was killed by the people of Budapest at the beginning of christianisation in the city.

In the evening we went on a boot tour up and down the river Danube and watched the city by night. I liked especially the parlament, which looked even more majestic lit up.

the one at the beginning

Regensburg – you beautiful beast. As others before me I will start my journey in a city I’m studying and living in. I’m very lucky to stay in such a diverse city. Here you meet the traditional Bavarian sitting next to the extroverted student. Buildings and incorporated ruins from the middle ages and even roman times. My favorite place at the moment is right behind the gothic dome: the stonemason hut. It is surrounded by many trees and ivy. Right in the busy heart of the city hides a quiet oasis.

At midnight I’m gonna start my trip and my first destination will be Budapest. I’m curious how my view on the Regensburg and it’s world heritage will change through out visiting other cities. Because I’m already used to Regensburgs world heritage, which is the whole old town. Of course the streets still amaze me after two years with their small and contorted alley ways. But often I don’t realize, that every building I walk by has so many stories from the past to tell. Many World Heritage Sites are just one or two buildings, we are in luck that we have a whole district of preserved, wonderful architecture.

So at the end of my journey I will write about Regensburg again and we will see if something has changed.

The Adventure Begins – Discovering Vienna, Austria

 

Welcome to Vienna – the ‘heart’ and the ‘musical capital’ of Europe. There are many reasons why I chose this city not only to be my first destination for my UNESCO adventure, but also to be my second home.

I had previously visited the city when I was very young, and I couldn’t help but fall in love with it. This is when I knew that I wanted to move here for at least some time and spend my students years in this beautiful place. I have been in Vienna for 4 years now, and I knew I wanted my journey to start exactly here. Behind its gorgeous castles and facades, Vienna has so much more to offer.

The historic centre of Vienna was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2001 and is considered one of the most beautiful city landmarks in Europe. The city presents an unreplicable mixture of old and new, ancient and modern. Vienna is also extremely rich in beautiful architecture, stunning castles and churches, and historic monuments.

I was very lucky to get the chance to explore the Vienna City Hall closely and meet Ernst Woller – the first president of the Landtag. Getting to see some of the halls in the Rathaus, that are normally closed for visitors, was a surreal experience. And let me tell you – the building is gorgeous, not only on the outside, but also on the inside. An interesting fact is that the hallways of the City Hall are open for visitors for free.

Meeting with Ernst Woller in the Vienna City Hall

The hallways of Vienna City Hall

My warm welcome in the City Hall was a great beginning of my day and my trip as a whole. I then went on a walk around the historic centre and took some photos of my most favourite places around town.

Vienna City Hall
Burgtheater

One of the iconic places is the Maria-Theresien-Platz and the twin museums. The Natural History Museum and the Museum of Art History are situated across from each other, and the buildings are just one of the many examples of how stunning the architecture in Vienna is.

 

Art History Museum
Art History Museum
Natural History Museum

 

Right next to the museums, you will find Hofburg – the former principal imperial palace of the Habsburg dynasty rulers. Nowadays, it serves as the official residence and workplace of the President of Austria. The National Library is also situated in the same building.

 

Hofburg

 

If you keep walking, you will find yourself at Michaelerplatz – the place with the many horses and carriages. Here you can see a display of excavated ruins of a Roman wall.

 

Michaelerplatz
The view from the street in front of Michaelerplatz

 

Continuing straight ahead of Michaelerplatz, in just a few minutes you will see the gorgeous Graben Street – a place where many locals and tourists love walking around, sitting down for a coffee and admiring the view.

 

Graben Street
The plague monument on Graben Street

 

At the end of Graben Street is located one of the most symbolic and impressive buildings in all of Vienna – St. Stephen’s cathedral (Stephansdom). The cathedral was built in Romanesque and Gothic style and impresses just as much on the outside, as well as on the inside.

 

St. Stephen’s Cathedral

 

Many people visit Vienna because it’s among the popular capital cities in Europe. But only few realise why is this place so special and important. On one hand, the urban and architectural qualities of the historical center of Vienna are testimonies of a constant change of values ​​during the 2nd millennium. Secondly, three main periods of European culture and political development – medieval, baroque and early days – are presented in an exceptional way by the urban and architectural heritage of the historical center of Vienna. And last but not least, Vienna has been recognized worldwide as the musical capital of Europe since the 16th century.