History: Passau is a town in Lower Bavaria, Germany. It is also known as the Dreiflüssestadt or "City of Three Rivers," because the Danube is joined at Passau by the Inn from the south and the Ilz from the north.
In the 2nd century BC, many of the Boii tribe were pushed north across the Alps out of northern Italy by the Romans. They established a new capital called Boiodurum by the Romans (from Gaulish Boioduron), now within the Innstadt district of Passau.
During the second half of the 5th century, St. Severinus established a monastery here. In 739, an English monk called Boniface founded the diocese of Passau and this was the largest diocese of the Holy Roman Empire for many years.
In the 1552 Treaty of Passau, Archduke Ferdinand I, representing Emperor Charles V, secured the agreement of the Protestant princes to submit the religious question to a diet. This led to the Peace of Augsburg in 1555.
During the Renaissance and early modern period, Passau was one of the most prolific centres of sword and bladed weapon manufacture in Germany (after Solingen). Passau smiths stamped their blades with the Passau wolf, usually a rather simplified rendering of the wolf on the city's coat-of-arms. Superstitious warriors believed that the Passau wolf conferred invulnerability on the blade's bearer, and thus Passau swords acquired a great premium. According to the Donau-Zeitung, aside from the wolf, some cabalistic signs and inscriptions were added. As a result, the whole practice of placing magical charms on swords to protect the wearers came to be known for a time as "Passau art." (See Eduard Wagner, Cut and Thrust Weapons, 1969). Other cities' smiths, including those of Solingen, recognized the marketing value of the Passau wolf and adopted it for themselves. By the 17th century, Solingen was producing more wolf-stamped blades than Passau was. In 1662, a devastating fire consumed most of the city. Passau was subsequently rebuilt in the Baroque style.
From 1892 until 1894, Adolf Hitler and his family lived in Passau. The city archives mention Hitler being in Passau on four different occasions in the 1920s for speeches. On November 3, 1902 Heinrich Himmler and his family arrived from Munich. They lived at Theresienstraße 394 (currently Theresienstraße 22) until September 2, 1904. Himmler maintained contact with locals until May 1945.
May 3, 1945, a message from Major General Stanley Eric Reinhart’s 261st Infantry Regiment stated at 3:15 am: "AMG Officer has unconditional surrender of PASSAU signed by Burgermeister, Chief of Police and Lt. Col of Med Corps there. All troops are to turn themselves in this morning."
On June 2, 2013 the old town suffered from severe flooding as a result of several days of rain and its location at the confluence of three rivers. Peak elevations of floods as early as 1501 are displayed on a wall at the Old City Hall. Flood water reaches the base of that wall on average once every 5 years.
The Saint Stephen's Cathedral and the "Old City" (Die Altstadt). With 17,774 pipes and 233 registers, the organ at St. Stephen's was long held to be the largest church pipe organ in the world and is today second in size only to the organ at First Congregational Church, Los Angeles, which was expanded in 1994. Organ concerts are held daily between May and September. St.Stephen's is a true masterpiece of Italian Baroque, built by Italian architect Carlo Lurago and decorated in part by Carpoforo Tencalla.
Our tour: The town’s narrow streets takes you through Old Town and past traditional patrician houses. We saw the New Bishop’s Residence and visited the impressive baroque St. Stephen’s Cathedral with its ornate interior. Inside, we were delighted by a 20 minute concert played on the 17,000-pipe organ, considered Europe’s largest church organ.
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