By the time we reached Passau, “The City of Three Rivers,” my hip was nearly back to normal, and I was able to join the walking tour through the first city established in Germany and located strategically on the convergence of three rivers: Danube, Inn, and Ilz.
What a lovely, photogenic, well-preserved medieval city! Although it has had quite a history of flooding (as the photo below demonstrates), it has survived and thrived.
Have you ever wondered where the saying, “That man is not worth his salt!” originated? During medieval times, Passau was and ancient Roman colony, and Roman soldiers were paid “salt money,” salarium argentum, from which we take our English word, “salary.” Salt was a valuable commodity, and it was as valuable as silver.
How about, “Walls have ears.” Where the heck did that saying come from? Back in the day, castles of the wealthy were built with double walls so servants could walk between the walls to stoke fireplaces from the back to reduce the amount of smoke exposure. Out of sight, out of mind; so, juicy gossip was overheard by the servants and passed between each other.
Those were two of the interesting tidbits we learned from our guide, and we also learned that Passau (and all of Bavaria) has five “seasons”: winter, spring, summer, fall, and lent. During lent, eating bread and drinking beer is permitted, and beer is consumed in massive quantities!
Our walking tour concluded at the cathedral where we were fortunate to enjoy a beautiful organ concert performed on their world-renowned organ that has 17,954 pipes and 234 stops. That first number is not a typo, my friends; you read that correctly! The tallest pipe is eleven meters high, the shortest measures ½ cm high, and it is considered the largest Catholic church pipe organ in the world.
The frescos and ornate artwork throughout the church were so detailed and beautiful, we spent the entire performance swivel-necking to take it all in. Gorgeous!
More scenes from Passau:
Coming up next: Regensburg