Passau, Germany: City on Three Rivers

A river cruise ship passes through Passau, Germany

Linda Garrison

If you are arriving at Passau on a Danube River cruise ships, the boat will dock at a small park near the old town, and passengers can walk into the city to enjoy the pedestrian-friendly shopping areas, historical sites, and picturesque architecture of the buildings. Passau is a perfect example of a great river cruise port of call. It has interesting history, good shopping, and many fascinating buildings.

This Bavarian town of about 50,000 residents is also home to the University of Passau, giving the town a youthful ambiance.

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St. Stephen's Cathedral Towers

Exterior of St. Stephen's Cathedral in Passau, Germany on an overcast day
Linda Garrison

St. Stephen's Cathedral in located in the center of the old town. It has three huge towers topped with green onion domes, so it's easily recognizable all over the town. 

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St. Stephen's Cathedral Interior

View of the altar and central aisle of St. Stephen's Cathedral in Passau, Germany
Linda Garrison

The interior of St. Stephen's Cathedral is done mostly in white, which is quite a contrast from the dark interiors of many other large cathedrals.

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St. Stephen's Cathedral Organ

The balcony and pipe organ at St. Stephen's Cathedral in Passau, Germany
Linda Garrison

A highlight of a Passau visit is an organ concert in St. Stephen's Cathedral. The organ in this baroque church is the world's largest cathedral organ, with over 17,000 pipes and 233 registers.The organ concert is usually held at noon, allowing cruise ship passengers a couple of hours to explore Passau on their own after the concert is over.

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Three Rivers: Danube, Ilz, and Inn

A barge on one of the three rivers that cross through Passau, Germany
Linda Garrison

Passau is found near the border of Germany and Austria and sits at the junction of three rivers—the Danube, Inn, and Ils. In the 17th century, much of the old city was destroyed in a devastating fire, but the citizens rebuilt Passau in primarily an Italian baroque style.

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Passau Fortress (Veste Oberhaus)

Passau Fortress, the Veste Oberhaus, in Passau, Germany
Linda Garrison

Across the Danube River from old town Passau is the Veste Oberhaus Fortress, which dates back to the 13th century. The powerful Bishops of Passau built and used the fortress from 1217 to 1803. Visitors can cross the bridge to visit this ancient fortress that overlooks the city and its rivers. A shuttle takes visitors to the top of the hill, but it's a good hike for those who enjoy the exercise. The view is worth the exertion. 

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Old Town Passau

A narrow pedestrian lane in Old Town Passau, Germany
Linda Garrison

Enjoy a quiet stroll through the streets of Old Town Passau. The picturesque lanes will transport you back to an earlier time.

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High Water Marker

Marker in Passau, Germany showing the high water points from various floods that have occurred
Linda Garrison

This high water marker near the Danube River in Passau marks some of the worst floods over the centuries. The highest mark was 12.60 meters in the year 1501.

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Passau Park

Passau Park in Passau, Germany
Linda Garrison

Danube River cruise ships dock at this small but lovely park at the junction of the Danube and Inn Rivers in Passau.

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09 of 09

Sailing Away on the Flooded Danube River

Sailing through Passau, Germany on the flooded Danube River
Linda Garrison

The "beautiful blue Danube" can sometimes become quite swollen and muddy during rainy seasons. This photo was taken in June 2009, but high waters can occur at any time of the year.

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