The medieval centre of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a testimony of the city's status as cultural centre of southern Germany in the Middle Ages. In 2014, Regensburg was among the top sights and travel attractions in Germany. Generally known in English as Ratisbon until well into the twentieth century, the city is known as Ratisbonne in French and as Ratisbona in Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Catalan and Albanian.
The first settlements in Regensburg date from the Stone Age. The Celtic name Radasbona was the oldest given to a settlement near the present city. Around AD 90, the Romans built a fort there.
In 179, a new Roman fort Castra Regina ("fortress by the river Regen") was built for Legio III Italica during the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. It was an important camp on the most northerly point of the Danube: it corresponds to what is today the core of Regensburg's Old City or Altstadt east of the Obere and Untere Bachgasse and West of the Schwanenplatz. It is believed that as early as in late Roman times the city was the seat of a bishop, and St Boniface re-established the Bishopric of Regensburg in 739.
From the early 6th century, Regensburg was the seat of a ruling family known as the Agilolfings. From about 530 to the first half of the 13th century, it was the capital of Bavaria. Regensburg remained an important city during the reign of Charlemagne. In 792, Regensburg hosted the ecclesiastical section of Charlemagne's General Assembly, the bishops in council who condemned the heresy of adoptionism taught by their Spanish counterparts, Elipandus of Toledo and Felix of Urgel. After the partition of the Carolingian Empire in 843, the city became the seat of the Eastern Frankish ruler, Louis II the German. Two years later, fourteen Bohemian princes came to Regensburg to receive baptism there. This was the starting point of Christianization of the Czechs, and the diocese of Regensburg became the mother diocese of that of Prague. These events had a wide impact on the cultural history of the Czech lands, as they were consequently part of the Roman Catholic and not the Slavic-Orthodox world. A memorial plate at St John's Church (the alleged place of the baptism) was unveiled a few years ago, commemorating the incident in the Czech and German languages.
On 8 December 899 Arnulf of Carinthia, descendant of Charlemagne, died at Regensburg (known as Ratisbon at the time), Bavaria, Germany.
In 800 AD the city had 23,000 inhabitants and by 1000 AD this had almost doubled to 40,000 people.
In 1096, on the way to the First Crusade, Peter the Hermit led a mob of Crusaders that attempted to force the mass conversion of the Jews of Regensburg and killed all those who resisted.
Between 1135 and 1146, the Stone Bridge across the Danube was built at Regensburg. This bridge opened major international trade routes between northern Europe and Venice, and this began Regensburg's golden age as a residence of wealthy trading families. Regensburg became the cultural centre of southern Germany and was celebrated for its gold work and fabrics.
In 1245 Regensburg became a Free Imperial City and was a trade centre before the shifting of trade routes in the late Middle Ages. At the end of the 15th century in 1486, Regensburg became part of the Duchy of Bavaria, but its independence was restored by the Holy Roman Emperor ten years later. The city adopted the Protestant Reformation in 1542 and its Town Council remained entirely Lutheran. From 1663 to 1806, the city was the permanent seat of the Imperial Diet of the Holy Roman Empire, which became known as the Perpetual Diet of Regensburg. Thus, Regensburg was one of the central towns of the Empire, attracting visitors in large numbers.
A minority of the population remained Roman Catholic, and Roman Catholics were denied civil rights (Bürgerrecht). But the town of Regensburg must not be confused with the Bishopric of Regensburg. Although the Imperial city had adopted the Reformation, the town remained the seat of a Roman Catholic bishop and several abbeys. Three of the latter, St. Emmeram, Niedermünster and Obermünster, were estates of their own within the Holy Roman Empire, meaning that they were granted a seat and a vote at the Imperial Diet (Reichstag). So there was the unique situation that the town of Regensburg comprised five independent "states" (in terms of the Holy Roman Empire): the Protestant city itself, the Roman Catholic bishopric, and the three monasteries (mentioned previously). In addition, it was seen as the traditional capital of the region Bavaria (not the state), acted as functional co-capital of the Empire (second to the Emperor's court at Vienna) due to the presence of the Perpetual Diet, and it was residence of the Emperor's Commissary-Principal to the same diet, who with one very brief exception was a prince himself (longstandingly the Prince Thurn and Taxis, still resident in the town).
In 1803 the city lost its status as a free city, following its incorporation into the Principality of Regensburg. It was handed over to the Archbishop of Mainz and Archchancellor of the Holy Roman Empire Carl von Dalberg in compensation for Mainz, which had become French under the terms of the Treaty of Lunéville in 1801. The archbishopric of Mainz was formally transferred to Regensburg. Dalberg united the bishopric, the monasteries, and the town itself, making up the Principality of Regensburg (Fürstentum Regensburg). Dalberg strictly modernized public life. Most importantly, he awarded equal rights to Protestants and Roman Catholics alike. In 1810 Dalberg ceded Regensburg to the Kingdom of Bavaria, he himself being compensated by the award of Fulda and Hanau to him under the title of "Grand Duke of Frankfurt".
Between April 19 and April 23, 1809, Regensburg was the scene of the Battle of Ratisbon between forces commanded by Henri Gatien Bertrand and Napoleon himself and the retreating Austrian forces. The city was eventually overrun, after supplies and ammunition ran out. The city suffered severe damage during the fight, with about 150 houses being burnt and others being looted.
Regensburg was home to both a Messerschmitt Bf 109 aircraft factory and an oil refinery, which were bombed by the Allies on August 17, 1943, by the Schweinfurt-Regensburg mission, and on February 5, 1945, during the Oil Campaign of World War II. Although both targets were badly damaged, Regensburg itself suffered little damage from the Allied strategic bombing campaign, and the nearly intact medieval city centre is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city's most important cultural loss was that of the Romanesque church of Obermünster, which was destroyed in a March 1945 air raid and was not rebuilt (the belfry survived). Also, Regensburg's slow economic recovery after the war ensured that historic buildings were not torn down, to be replaced by newer ones. When the upswing in restoration reached Regensburg in the late 1960s, the prevailing mindset had turned in favour of preserving the city's heritage.
Between 1945 and 1949, Regensburg was the site of the largest Displaced persons (DP) camp in Germany. At its peak in 1946–1947, the workers' district of Ganghofersiedlung housed almost 5,000 Ukrainian and 1,000 non-Ukrainian refugees and displaced persons. With the approval of U.S. Military Government in the American Allied Occupation Zone, Regensburg and other DP camps organised their own camp postal service. In Regensburg, the camp postal service began operation on December 11, 1946.
At the beginning of the 1960s, Regensburg invested a lot in technical and social infrastructure to attract industry. Siemens was the first multinational company to come to Regensburg, a milestone in the city's development after World War II. In 1965, Regensburg University was founded, Regensburg University of Applied Sciences was established in 1971. The second multinational company, BMW, came in 1986 to build up a large production plant. Since the 1990s, several well-known hightech companies are located in Regensburg, such as Infineon and OSRAM, contributing to the city's current wealth.
In 1997, Regensburg was awarded the Europe Prize for its outstanding achievements in european integration.
The World Heritage Committee listed Regensburg's Old Town a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2006. It is the largest medieval old town north of the Alps and very well preserved, dubbing it "Italy's most northern city". Close to the Stone Bridge, the city of Regensburg established a World Heritage Centre in the historic Salzstadl in 2007, where detailed information on Regensburg's 2000-year-old history is given.
Regensburg is situated on the northernmost part of the Danube river at the geological crossroads of four distinct landscapes:
The climate in Regensburg is categorized in the Köppen climate classification as Dfb (humid continental). The average temperature of 8.5 °C (47.3 °F) is slightly above the German average (7.8 °C or 46.0 °F), the average precipitation of 636 millimetres (25.0 inches) per year below the German average (approximately 700 millimetres or 28 inches ). With a total of 1670 sunshine hours per year, Regensburg is roughly 120 hours above German average.
The warmest month of the year, on average, is July. The coolest month of the year, on average, is January.
Regensburg includes the largest medieval old town north of the Alps with nearly 1,500 listed buildings and a picturesque cityscape. Its most famous sights are located mainly in the Old Town, such as:
Near Regensburg there are two very imposing Classical buildings, erected by Ludwig I of Bavaria as national monuments to German patriotism and greatness:
Besides, there is the famous Weltenburg Abbey (Kloster Weltenburg), a Benedictine monastery in Weltenburg near Kelheim on the Danube. The abbey is situated on a peninsula in the Danube, on the so-called "Weltenburg Narrows" or the "Danube Gorge". The monastery, founded by Irish or Scottish monks in about 620, is held to be the oldest monastery in Bavaria.
To the east of Regensburg lies the Bavarian Forest with its National Park, one of the most visited protected areas in Germany.
Altogether Regensburg is home to 20 museums. Among the most prominent museums are for instance the Regensburg Museum of History which shows history, culture and arts of Regensburg and Eastern Bavaria from stone age to present. Then there is the Imperial diet museum (Reichstagsmuseum) in the Old Town Hall describing the life during the Holy Roman Empire. Its main attractions are an original torture chamber and the Reichssaal, the rooms occupied by the Imperial diet from 1663 to 1806. The Kepler Memorial House (Keplergedächtnishaus) illustrates the life of the famous astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler. The Municipal Art Gallery Leerer Beutel offers art collections, film events and cultural festivals. Over the last years, the city added several outdoor museums to its cultural landscape, the so-called document sites. These give an overview on specific topics such as Roman, Jewish and Bavarian history.
Besides, there are the diocese museums (Bistumsmuseen) of Regensburg and a branch of the Bavarian National Museum located in the St. Emmeram's Abbey, which contains the Princely Treasure Chamber of the family Thurn and Taxis. The Domschatzmuseum where church treasures, monstrances and tapestries are displayed is in St. Peter's Cathedral. Other museums are the Kunstforum Ostdeutsche Galerie, the Naturkundemuseum Ostbayern, the reptile zoo, the Regensburg Museum of Danube Shipping (Donau-Schiffahrts-Museum), the Public Observatory Regensburg as well as the watch museum (Uhrenmuseum), the golf museum, the post museum and the Dinoraeum. To celebrate its centenary, the State of Bavaria will open the museum of Bavarian history in Regensburg in May, 2018. Besides, there are guided tours in most of the historical monuments of Regensburg, as well as organized tourist tours through the city available in several languages.
The Regensburg Theater at the Bismarckplatz is 200 years old and is the most important theater of the city. Operas, operettas, musicals and ballets are shown. In summer, open-air performances are carried out as well. With the theater at the Bismarckplatz as the oldest and largest one, the Regensburg theater has four other stages with programmes that complement each other: in the Neuhaussaal of the theater at the Bismarckplatz, concerts by the Philharmonic Orchestra Regensburg take place. The Velodrom Theater presents musicals and plays. In the Haidplatz Theater mainly literary and modern plays are performed, whereas the Turmtheater at the Goliathplatz shows modern plays as well, but also cabarets, musicals and plays for children.
Regensburg is home to the famous Regensburger Domspatzen. Since 2003 there are the Regensburger Schlossfestspiele in the inner courtyard of the St. Emmeram's Abbey every July, sponsored by the Princely Family of Thurn und Taxis. Meanwhile, those were attracting musicians like Elton John, David Garrett, Tom Jones or Plácido Domingo. Modern music styles, especially Jazz, are presented every summer during the Bavarian Jazz weekend. All over the Old Town, over hundred bands, combos and soloists are performing. In 2015, the House of Music was opened, giving home to skilled musicians and their education.
The international short film season is hosted annually in Regensburg. It is a non-profit event and takes place every March, being one of the most important of its type in Germany. Aside, there are several cinemas, such as CinemaxX, the largest one showing blockbusters and arthouse films, and smaller independent cinemas such as Garbo, Ostentor Kino and Regina Filmtheater. Regensburg has two open air cinemas as well.
The Old Town of Regensburg with nearly 1,500 listed buildings offers a huge cultural diversity from Roman to modern times.
The Old Town of Regensburg is surrounded completely by a green belt. Numerous inner-city parks like the City Park (Stadtpark), the Herzogspark, the Dörnbergpark, the Villapark or the university's botanical garden are a source for recreation and leisure.
The city of Regensburg erected several memorials to combat racism, intolerance towards minorities and all other forms of contempt for human dignity:
A specific in Regensburg are the so-called Stolpersteine (stumbling blocks) in honor of deported Jews during Nazism.
Twice a year takes place the Regensburg Dult, the city's Volksfest, which is Bavaria's fourth largest. The Bürgerfest (citizen celebration) in the Old Town is every two years, attracting over 100,000 visitors. Every second weekend in July, knights and other medieval people come together at the Regensburg Spectaculum, a medieval market, on the Stone Bridge. Every December, there are several Christmas markets all over the city.
With over 500 bars, restaurants, clubs and other locations merely in the inner city, Regensburg provides a rich and diverse nightlife due to its young population.
In 2013, Regensburg had 140,276 inhabitants, making it the fourth largest city in Bavaria. Over the last hundred years, the city has experienced a strong increase in population, surpassing 100,000 inhabitants in 1945 due to Germans who were ethnically cleansed from eastern parts of the Third Reich, especially from the Sudetenland. Today, Regensburg is one of fastest growing cities in Germany and is supposed to reach 150,000 inhabitants in the near future.
A majority of Regensburg's population is Roman Catholic. In 2013, about 56.5% of the city's inhabitants identified with the Roman Catholic Church, 14.0% were registered Protestants and about 29.5% identified with other religions or did not have any registered religious affiliation.
The Lord Mayor and the City Council are elected for a period of six years. Both elections take place at the same time. The City Council is composed of 51 members and includes the Lord Mayor, two deputy mayors, five counsellors and the other council members.
After 18 years of a City Council with conservative majority, the social-democratic candidate, Joachim Wolbergs, became Lord Mayor in Mai 2014.
Regensburg is subdivided into 18 boroughs (Stadtbezirke): Innenstadt, Stadtamhof, Steinweg-Pfaffenstein, Sallern-Gallingkofen, Konradsiedlung-Wutzlhofen, Brandlberg-Keilberg, Reinhausen, Weichs, Schwabelweis, Ostenviertel, Kasernenviertel, Galgenberg, Kumpfmühl-Ziegetsdorf-Neuprüll, Großprüfening-Dechbetten-Königswiesen, Westenviertel, Ober- und Niederwinzer-Kager, Oberisling-Graß, Burgweinting-Harting. Each borough contains a number of localities (Ortsteile), which can have historic roots in older municipalities that became urbanized and incorporated into the city.
Regensburg's economy counts among the most dynamic and fastest growing in Germany. Focus is on manufacturing industries, such as automotive, industrial and electrical engineering.
There are several multinational corporations located in Regensburg, such as BMW, Continental, E.ON, General Electric, Infineon, Osram, Schneider Electric, Siemens, Telekom and Toshiba as well as hidden champions (Krones, MR).
BMW operates an automobile production plant in Regensburg; the Regensburg BMW plant produces 3 Series, 1 Series and (previously) Z4 vehicles. Continental AG, with the headquarters of its car component business, Osram Opto-Semiconductors and Siemens as well as Infineon, the former Siemens semiconductor branch, provide a high level of innovation and technical development in Regensburg. Other well known international companies, such as AREVA, Schneider Electric and Toshiba, have built plants in or near Regensburg. GE Aviation founded a greenfield site to innovate, develop and produce turbinemachinery components with a new manufacturing casting technology. Amazon.com located its first German customer service centre in Regensburg. The hidden champions Maschinenfabrik Reinhausen (MR) and Krones both are headquartered in or close to Regensburg and are among the major employeurs.
Aside from the industrial sector, tourism contributes a lot to Regensburg's economical growth, especially since 2006, when the city gained status as UNESCO World Heritage site. The University of Regensburg, the Regensburg University of Applied Sciences and mercantile trade also play major roles in Regensburg's economy. Increasingly, biotech companies were founded in Regensburg over the last two decades and have their headquarters and laboratories in the city's "BioPark". Another focus is on information technology, with the city running a start-up centre for IT firms. One of these former start-ups, CipSoft GmbH, now is a known video game company still based in Regensburg.
OTTI, the Eastern Bavaria Technology Transfer-Institut e.V., is headquartered in Regensburg.
The city recorded 912,238 overnight hotel stays and 531,943 hotel guests in 2012. Tourism figures have nearly doubled within the last 15 years and Regensburg has become one of the most-visited German cities from 100,000 to 500,000 residents. In 2014, Regensburg was ranked as a Top-30 travel attraction in Germany by international tourists.
Regensburg Hauptbahnhof (central station) is connected to lines to Munich, Nuremberg, Passau, Hof and Ingolstadt and Ulm. The city lies also on two motorways, the A3 from Cologne and Frankfurt to Vienna, and the A93 from Holledau to Hof.
Regensburg's energy is mainly supplied by the German company E.ON, one of the world's largest electric utility service providers. Its subsidiary Bayernwerk runs the local hydropower station in the Danube River. In 2012, about 9,1% of the total electricity consumption was generated by renewable energy sources, about 5,1% of the total heat consumption were generated by renewables. Both figures show, that Regensburg is behind other Bavarian cities in this context. Therefore, the municipal government presented an energy plan in 2014, which should enhance the transformation towards renewable energy sources over the next decade.
Regensburg hosts one of the most modern university hospitals in Europe, the Universitätsklinikum Regensburg. Aside, there are several other renowned hospitals such as the Krankenhaus Barmherzige Brüder and the St. Josef-Krankenhaus. In the Bezirksklinikum, mental diseases are treated. With 19,4 hospital beds per 1000 residents, Regensburg owns the fourth highest density of beds per residents in Germany. Concerning medical doctors per residents, Regensburg obtains the third place in Germany (339 per 100,000 residents).
The city's BioPark, representing Bavaria's second largest biotech cluster, hosts numerous research institutions and biotech companies.
Regensburg is known for its institutions of higher education. The biggest of those is the University of Regensburg. Founded in 1962, it is one of Germany's youngest institutions and ranked among the Top 400 universities worldwide. Among the prominent thinkers associated with the institution are Pope Benedict XVI, Udo Steiner and Wolfgang Wiegard. The campus is situated in one area together with the Regensburg University of Applied Sciences.
Since 1874 there has been a College of Catholic Music, the Hochschule für Katholische Kirchenmusik und Musikpädagogik Regensburg.
In addtition to the research centres and institutes of the universities, there are several research institutions situated in the city of Regensburg. Among them are the Leibniz-Institute for East and Southeast European Studies (IOS), the Regensburg Centre for Interventional Immunology (RCI), the Fraunhofer Institute for Toxicology and Experimental Medicine (ITEM) and the BioPark, the Bavarian biotech cluster.
Regensburg is home to 18 elementary schools. There are several institutions of secondary education, both public and private, representing all levels of the German school system. There are eight Gymnasiums in Regensburg, five Realschule, six Hauptschule and four vocational schools (the so-called Berufsschule). In addition, there are several folk high schools with different specialisations. Aside, there is the Swiss International School which is offering families an international educational infrastructure.
SSV Jahn Regensburg is the local football club and attracts a fairly large local following. The team was part of a larger sports club founded in 1889 as Turnerbund Jahn Regensburg which took its name from Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, whose ideas of gymnastics greatly influenced German sport in the 19th century. The football department was created in 1907. The footballers and swimmers left their parent club in 1924 to form Sportbund Jahn Regensburg.
EV Regensburg is the local ice hockey club, currently playing in the Oberliga Süd, Germany's third highest professional league.
Regensburg Legionäre is the baseball and softball club from Regensburg. The team is also known as Buchbinder Legionäre, following a sponsorship of the Buchbinder company. The club plays in the German Bundesliga and is one of the most famous and most successful baseball clubs in Germany. Several players now in the MLB formerly played at the club. Its arena, Armin-Wolf-Arena, was built in 1996 and has a capacity of 10,000 spectators, making it to Germany's largest baseball stadium.
The local athletics club, LG TELIS FINANZ Regensburg, offers a wide range of different competitions and is counted among the most successful clubs in Germany.