The Trip
The Saalburg II
Cologne II
Southwestern Black Forest
Schwäbisch Hall  Berlin

Tracing Roman Germania 1999
Tracing Roman Germania 2003 in the works
Ancient Rome as seen in the year 2001
Regensburg - Porta Praetoria, click here for images

Regensburg, click here for images


REGENSBURG       Castra Regina

2005 Addendum: Some websites disappeared since I last looked at this, but better once have shown up and are substituted below.

HaidplatzRegensburg (English site) is one of the few cities in Southern Germany that survived the bombing of WWII relatively unscathed – although it had experienced considerable damage from the French in 1809 – and the Altstadthotel Arch, at which I stayed, is in one of the oldest mansions in the city. It's at the other end of the Haidplatz square in the picture to the left, right in the center of the old town.

Regensburg gets its name from the Roman settlement Castra Regina, and is situated at the confluence of the Danube, Regen, and Naab rivers. It is sometimes called Ratisbon by English speakers; the word come from the Celtic settlement Radasbona, which was once where the old town is now. In 530 it became Regenspurz, the capital of the dukes of Bavaria, and in the 8th century the Carolingians moved in. It became a prosperous free imperial city in 1245.

The city is teaming with business and tourists, and a lot of life goes on outdoors during the warmer months. There are still many folk about in the evenings, and I had no hesitation one night to walk back to the hotel after a concert. The old town has a lot of crooked narrow lanes, and it is easy to lose one's way. But the hotels give you a free map – I never went anywhere without mine! I took a number of photos in my meandering.

There are many churches, mostly ancient, but, as so often in Bavaria, with Baroque overlays. And then there are the museums:  This site gives you the impressive list. The most interesting one from my point of view was the Historisches Museum, sometimes also referred to as Stadtmuseum, click on Bildgalerie. Like so many museums I visited in the area, it is a former monastery, in this case the Minoritenkloster (Minorite monastery). During the Napoleonic occupation in the early 1800s, many monasteries were secularized, even had their libraries destroyed, and not all were reinstated. The church dates from the 13th century, with a mid-14th century east choir. A new wing has been added. The museum represents history from the stone age through the 19th century, with emphasis on prehistory, Roman times, medieval stone sculptures, religious art from 15th and 16th century, and representation of city life and crafts through the centuries. Experiencing one of the few rainy days of my trip, I spent quite some time there. It has a lovely little café. Here are some images from the museum. I tried my best with a 400 film and no flash.


This square near the cathedral is a historic center of sorts. Controversial urban renewal caused razing some of the streets in that area to make way for a department store – as ugly as they come – with a large square next to the Neupfarrkirche church. In the course of the work, remains of the original Roman castrum were found, as well as large cellars of the old Jewish quarter, with a 14th century gold treasure. After the Romans had left, Jews moved into the fortified area. Regensburg has one of the oldest Jewish communities in Germany, dating back to at least 981 A.D. It was also the most affluent, as the archaeological findings show, and the seat of a world renowned talmudic school. Here is a pdf file, scroll down for the English translation. The community had always been immune to pogroms until 1519, after the death of emperor Maximilian, when they were expelled and had to leave town within five days. It is an infamous story of religious manipulation, propelled by greed. The synagogue was replaced with a church, the Neupfarrkirche. During WWII an underground air raid shelter was built there also. Today, there is a multimedia exhibition underground with guided tours by appointment. One can buy tickets at the tobacco store on the square. The square was the scene for soldiers' insurrections, in 1796 and 1919. A brief history of the square in English is here. For German speakers, there is an interesting online paper:  Gedanken zur Stadtbildgestaltung - Der Neupfarrplatz in Regensburg (pdf file). Here are my photos.

Regensburg is also the home of a famous boys' choir, the Regensburger Domspatzen, the oldest of its kind in the world, going back to 976 A.D.  A Spatz is a sparrow, and there were plenty of the real ones around, and pesky:  If you were sitting in an outdoor restaurant, you'd better keep an eye on your food!

Antoninus & Marc Aurel coin - click here for article
Doug Smith

Antoninus Pius bare head right / Marcus Aurelius bare headed bust right
Silver denarius - 140 AD

Castra Regina

Actually, the Regensburg area as settlements can be traced back to the Stone Age. At about 500 B.C., the Celtic Radasbonahad been mentioned. The Roman era began under the emperor Vespasian, who had a cohort castellum built in the current suburb of Kumpfmühl. After the Marcomannic wars, Marcus Aurelius established a fort in what is now the downtown area. It was the only castrum in Raetica Province – the Tyrolean Alps and parts of Bavaria and Switzerland – and was named Castra Regina after the river Regen, which flows into the Danube at that point. The outlines of the castrum have been found, and a section of the Porta Praetoria has been preserved (see photos). The deed for its foundation was carved in stone – a unique find in Germany, which can be seen in the city museum. It is also on view on this page for a 1994 exhibition organized by the university, called 500 Jahre auf den Spuren der Römer (Tracing the Romans for 500 years). The same website has an article (in German) on the Porta Praetoria by Gerhard H. Waldherr. (Note: Neither page is currently not accessible, there seems to be a server problem.)

The adjoining canabae soon expanded, and Castra Regina began to flourish. In 4th century, the character of the town changed to Germanic dominance.

Castra Regina was the southernmost point of the Germanic Limes, on the northernmost point of the Danube.

Excellent documentation is available in the museum and elsewhere. I already mentioned above the finds under the Neupfarrplatz, which include the fundaments of a large house of a high ranking officer, directly on the via principalis. Most of these finds have been covered up again, as is current practice. However, many artifacts can be found in the Roman section of the city museum. There is also a Roman museum in the suburb of Prüfening, where the oldest known brewery north of the Alps was situated. I did not make it to there though – three days are never enough! Here are my photos., click hereFor German speakers, there is an excellent guide book, Auf den Spuren der Römer - ein Stadtführer durch Regensburg by Gerhard H. Waldherr, which I purchased online.


© Irene B. Hahn 2002

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