Sightseeing in Passau
Most of the sights are in the compact old town area on the peninsula ending at the confluence of the Danube and Inn rivers. The Ilzstadt is the area between the Danube and the Ilz and was the traditional bastion of the prince-bishops. The main sight in the Innstadt, south of the Inn River, is the Mariahilf church.
Passau's Dom Area
The Dom Sankt Stephan (Cathedral of St Stephan), Domplatz, is at the highest point of the old town. The Late Gothic east chancel and transept are the only parts that survived the 1662 town fire. The new cathedral is Baroque and has a decorated façade facing the Domplatz. The dome was only completed in the 19th century. The delicate Gothic parts can be seen from Residenzplatz.
The huge interior, the largest Baroque church north of the Alps, was designed by Carlo Lurago and he left no surface uncovered. It is overloaded with gilded stuccos and frescos. The gilded pulpit is 18th century but the high altar of silver poplar wood is a modern, 1953 design by Henselmann. However, the true highlight is the organ – originally built in the 1920s but enlarged in the 1970s. With 17,974 pipes, 233 registers, and four carillons, it is the largest church organ in the world. The cathedral has fantastic acoustics and the organ is put through its paces frequently.
The small Domschatz (Cathedral Treasure) and the Diözesan-Museum (Diocesan Museum), 0851-393-374, is in the 18th-century bishop’s palace. The museum can be entered via a spiral staircase to the right of the choir in the cathedral, or from the Residenzplatz. Enter from the latter, if planning to see only the Baroque staircase (free). The museum itself has the usual collection of Episcopal paraphernalia as well as a lovely Baroque library.
[ Related page: Cathedrals in Germany. ]
Passau's Rathaus Area
The Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall) was erected in 1399 but the tower with clock was only added in the 19th century. Bavaria’s largest carillon plays inside daily. High-water levels are marked on the front of the building. The Großer Rathaussaal (Large Town Hall), entrance on Schrottgasse, is a Baroque hall with large wall and roof paintings depicting the Niebelungenlied and events from local history.
The Passauer Glasmuseum (Glass Museum) is inside the Hotel Wilder Mann, Am Rathausplatz. Its 30,000 items constitute the world’s largest collection of Bohemian glass. It exhibits works of all periods of Bohemian glasswork from the 17th-century Baroque to the modern, up to 1950. The collection also includes Bavarian and Austrian works. Opening hours are daily from 1 to 5 pm. Admission is Euro 5.
The Museum Moderner Kunst (Modern Art), has a collection of lesser-known contemporary artists. A real treat for devotees, but others may find the part-Gothic, part-Baroque architecture of the building more enticing.
The Dreiflußeckspaziergang (Three Rivers’ Corner Walk) is a lovely short walk on the banks of the Danube and Inn rivers. The far end of the promontory is the only point from where all three rivers, including the Ilz, can actually be seen at the same time. Note how long the green water of the Inn and the muddy-brown water of the Danube flow next to each other before eventually mixing deep into Austrian territory. Boat trips, to observe this process up close are popular.
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