Spared from devastation in the twentieth century’s wars, timeless REGENSBURG (Ratisbon in English, though the name is nowadays little used) preserves the appearance of an important medieval trading-city better than just about anywhere else in Central Europe. It’s the only major medieval city in Germany to remain intact, and to a remarkable extent the Regensburg you see today preserves its fourteenth-century street layout and much of the architecture – secular and religious – that reflects how it must have looked during its medieval zenith. Straddling routes to Italy, Bohemia, Russia and Byzantium, Regensburg had trading links that stretched as far as the Silk Road. Trade brought cultural interchange too, and the mighty tower houses of the city’s medieval merchants – so reminiscent of Italy – are found nowhere else north of the Alps. No wonder UNESCO added the city to its list of World Heritage Sites in 2006.

Glorious though its architectural heritage may be, this vibrant city is no museum piece. What makes it particularly special is the way its thousand or so historic monuments act as a backdrop for the very contemporary tastes and concerns of its modern citizens, who include large numbers of students. For visitors, Regensburg is a surprisingly multifaceted place, well worth a stay of a few days or so.

Brief history

Remarkably, the city is actually even older than it looks. The Romans founded a fort here as part of the empire’s Limes, or military frontier, in the then-uninhabited region of Donaubogen in 80 AD; it was destroyed in an attack by Marcomanni tribes in 167 AD, only to be re-established as a legion fortress under the name Castra Regina on the site of the present-day Altstadt. As the western Roman Empire died in the fifth century AD, the Roman inhabitants were gradually replaced by Germanic settlers. A bishopric from 739 AD, Regensburg also became a free imperial city in 1245.


Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Germany features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

A beginner's guide to the best German beers

A beginner's guide to the best German beers

Think Germany and you think beer. It’s a country whose beer culture is so ingrained and recognised that Oktoberfest (16 September–3 October 2017) is celeb…

14 Sep 2017 • Daniel Neilson insert_drive_file Article
How Syrians are keeping their culture alive in Berlin

How Syrians are keeping their culture alive in Berlin

Syria has been shattered by conflict since March 2011; more than 5 million people have been forced to flee the country and rebuild their lives elsewhere. Jessi…

05 Sep 2017 • Jessica Bateman local_activity Special feature
Going underground in Hamburg: 6 ways to see the city's alternative side

Going underground in Hamburg: 6 ways to see the city's alternative side

Hamburg is perpetually on the brink of falling out with itself. On the one hand, it’s a city of convention and millionaires – Hamburg has the highest concen…

18 Jul 2017 • Neil McQuillian insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook