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June 1996

The Weekender: Off To Passau: A city of magic and light

The lovely Bavarian city of Passau is a short train ride away

The "three-river city" of Passau, tucked away in a southeastern corner of Germany on the Austrian border, has been described as one of the seven most scenically located cities in the world. Once an important Celtic, Roman and medieval stronghold, it was strategically built on a narrow spit of land at the confluence of three rivers-, the Danube, the Inn and the Ilz. The tip of the peninsula, called the Dreiflußeck (three-river corner), affords a striking view of the three rivers, -the chalky Inn, the dark green Ilz, and the rather brown (and not-so blue) Danube-, creating a spectacular mosaic of color. Passau is frequently compared to Venice, and although Passau is certainly no "Venice of the North," its waterways do add a certain magic and light to the city. As you stroll through the elegant historic part of town, which is built on a hillside, you're greeted by delightful little lanes, alleyways and gracefully arcaded streets lined with typical Inn Valley buildings; it comes as no surprise that many of Passau's early architects were Italian. The fine old merchants' houses that line the waterfront, on the other hand, are remnants of Passau's former wealth as a shipping center. And, ever architecturally fortunate, six centuries of prince-bishops in Passau left in their trail the grand Residenz-the Sommerschloss Freudenhain-and a spectacular baroque cathedral that houses the world's largest organ. Throughout the summer, you can hear the organ played in a series of noon concerts. Passau has for centuries been known throughout Europe as an important cultural and artistic hub; in Germany, in particular, Passau is renowned for its lively cabaret, and also offers first-rate theater and classical concerts. Every summer since 1952, Passau has hosted the Europäische Wochen Festival(European Weeks), a major event featuring everything from opera, ballet and classical concerts, to theater, open-air cinema, art exhibits and literature readings. The festival runs from June 14 until July 31; for a complete program and reservations, call (0851) 33038 The city's main attraction, however, is its variety of stunning and romantic Danube cruises. All along the bustling quayside, you can spoil yourself with a wide range of boat tours offering either short scenic jaunts or longer trips (west to Regensburg or east to Vienna), and even cruises to the Black Sea. The "Three Rivers Round Trip" is a city tour lasting 45 minutes, and dinner-and-dance evening trips are also quite popular. Contact Donauschiffahrt Wurm & Köck at (0851) 929292. If you're looking for a more energizing way to explore this water-bound city and the surrounding countryside, why not rent a canoe? Call J. Denk at (0851) 31450 for information. Because of the area's multitude of bike trails, Passau is also known as "The Bavarian Bicycletown"; call (0851) 5304397 to rent a bike in advance, or Aktiv-Radreisen-Velotours at (0851) 53385 to go on a bike tour. Online ResourcesFurther information on Passau is available PASSAU INFORMATION Restaurants and Bars Passauer Wolf, Rindermarkt 6-8. One of the best restaurants in southeastern Germany, with prices tomatch. Peschl Terasse, Rosstraenke 4. A traditional Bavarian restaurant with a terrace overlooking theDanube and beer from the town brewery. Heilig-Geist-Stiftsschenke, Heiliggeistgasse 4. This former 14th century monastery is now anatmospheric wine cellar with a garden for summer meals and wine from the church vineyards. Café Duft, Theresienstr. 22. A modern café serving great breakfasts and light lunches. Accommodation $$$ Hotel Wilder Mann, Am Rathausplatz (tel. 0851/35071). A beautiful old hotel in a convertedmerchant's house by the waterfront; contains The Glass Museum, an excellent restaurant, and arooftop café. $$ Schloss Ort, Ort 11 (tel. 0851/34072). A modernized 13th century castle magnificently positionedat the Dreiflusseck. $ Rotel Inn, Donaulände Str. (tel. 0851/95160). A modern hotel on the bank of the Danube andadjacent to the train station; built in the shape of a sleeping man. $ Jugendherberge, Veste Oberhaus 125 (tel. 0851/41351). This youth hostel is located on a hilltopfortress above the Dreiflußeck. Getting There By car: Passau is 179 km east of Munich. Take the A92 then the A3 at Deggendorf. By train: Direct rail from Munich runs every two hours; a bus shuttle runs from the train station to theRathaus every 15 minutes. Tourist Office Open Monday through Friday 8:30-18h, weekend and holidays 10-14h (tel. 0851/33421).

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