I've visited Straubing twice for its Christkindlmarkt. The first visit in 2002 was a bit of rush as I was hitting several in a single day, but in 2003 we went together and did a deliberate tour of whole old town. It proved to be the only Christmas market we visited that had snow that season, as that December was unusually dry. But the colors and activity of the downtown made the snowfall look so natural.
Straubing lay on the banks of the Danube River, not far from the confluence with the Isar (the river that connected Munich and Landshut). The small old town sat high on the banks, with a city palace overlooking the river. The city had become sprawling and industrialized, and seemed to have become a "suburb" of Regensburg only a half-hour to the west. Modern apartments and post-WWII factories followed the train tracks for quite a ways. The apparently high level of economic activity seemed to manifest itself in the colors and activity of the city's Altstadt, or old town.
The Altstadt's make-up was like similar-sized old towns in Bavaria (see Traunstein), where a single long boulevard was lined tight with very colorful buildings. The center of the boulevard served as the city marketplace and center of activity. But unlike Traunstain's single market square, Straubing's was bisected by the distinctive Stadtturm (City Tower), shown in the first photograph. This shot was taken from the Christmas Market side after the snows abated briefly. The opposite side hosted the regular market that sold vegetables, cheese, meats, and fish every Saturday. Ordinarily, one could climb the tower for a Euro or two for a panoramic view, but the heavy snows deterred us that day.
Also on the market square was the Dreifaltigkeitsaule (the Holy Trinity Tower), which was a common holy monument in eastern Bavarian and Austrian cities. There was also a large red brick Jesuitenkirche. The brilliant reddish-orange Rathaus facing the Stadtturm was also beautiful, as were a number of the old guesthouses on the main street (several of which now merely housed modern stores).
But the grandest attraction was the city Cathedral located just a block off the market. Filled was extraordinary artwork and very well-maintained, it was the city's must-see. Unfortunately, for both my visits there, the Cathedral was under renovation which meant that the lighting was poor so I could not produce a good photograph of the interior. The second photograph showed my best attempt. In the center was the brilliant gold tabernacle. There were considerable amounts of lovely artwork all around.
We walked down toward the Danube past a secondary market street and an old monastery. The cobblestone road dropped steeply down to the banks, mostly owned by the city park due to the occasional Danube floods (such as were experienced in summer 2003). The Danube was leveed to help stem the floods, but because of all the old residences built nearby there was little more that could be done to channel any rising waters. The top of the levees were so wide that walking paths and benches dotted the way (much like I saw in other Danube cities like Szentendre, Hungary.
As the Danube bent away from Straubing, we saw the old palace, a sprawling white stone building with the residence above and guard towers below. The major of the building was plain white, leaving the facade (third photo) as the only colorfully decorated part.
There were plenty of attractions that we hadn't visited which we have reserved for future visits. Its city brochure celebrated art museums and concert halls, many of which are new and celebrate the city's long heritage. Its Christmas markets and festivals were very colorful. Shoot, I enjoyed it enough to go twice, and would go a third time given the chance!
Trips taken 29 November 2002 and 30 November 2003 -- Page last updated 01 September 2006 -- (C) 2004 Tom Galvin