Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cathedral sparrows and devils in Regensburg

Munich is a very beautiful city, but I could have never dreamed how many magical places are merely a reasonable train ride away. We made a quick stop at Regensburg on our way to visit Weltenberg Kloster and I am definitely planning to return and explore this city of tall medieval buildings and narrow lanes further. 

The centre of Regensberg escaped the World War II bombings of 1943 and 1945 and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2006. It apparently has a fantastic Christmas market and I have already marked a December visit on my mental calendar. 

Something about the Gothic style Regensburg Cathedral spires reminds me of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. The towers are home to the acclaimed Regensburg cathedral sparrows (Domspatzen), which sing along during the services. A legend tells how the cathedral builder and the Regensburg Stone Bridge builder had made a bet on who would finish first. The bridge builder then made a pact with the Devil that he could have the first three souls to cross the bridge if he would help him win. The Devil honoured his promise and the bridge builder cunningly sent a cat, a dog and a chicken to cross first.

During the 12th century the famous Stone Bridge became the largest vaulted bridge of its kind in the world. It opened the trade routes between Nothern Europe and Venice, making Regensburg a major trade city and creating wealth for its people. During the 2nd and 3rd crusade, this was the only place where the knights could cross the Danube on their way to the Holy Land. Today it’s my turn to walk through the ancient city gate and cross the cobbled bridge on my way to one of the many bars on the riversides and squares. With a reputation as having one of the highest amounts of pubs per square metre, this historical city is certainly not a quiet one.

These cobbled streets are full of mystique. Settlements in the Regensburg area date right back to the Stone Age so it would be fair to say that the city holds more than 2000 years of history. One of my favourite things about Europe is the feeling of breathing in a universal sort of wisdom just by sharing the same setting as centuries' worth of terrible and wonderful stories. 

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