Fire and Water

Passau is an old city, with local history dating back to the second century BC. A monastery was founded here in the late 5th century, and, for many years, the diocese of Passau was the largest diocese in the Holy Roman Empire.

In 1662, a fire swept through Passau, destroying the city. It was rebuilt in the Baroque style, full of narrow, meandering cobblestone lanes.

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Some people call it the “northernomst Italian city.”

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Sometimes the most direct route takes you through an unexpected tunnel or flight of stairs.

The benefits of this are that there is almost no vehicle traffic, so it is very safe for walking wherever you want to go. It’s easy to get lost, though, in the labyrinth of streets. If you don’t know where you are, just head to a river to get your bearings.

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You’ll always know you’re on the Artists’ Walk by the rainbow painted cobblestones

Besides the fire in the 17th century, Passau has known it’s fair share of natural disasters.

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In Rathausplatz, beside the Danube, you can find this flood gauge. It shows the high water marks of many of the floods in Passau’s history. This highest was in 1501, shortly followed by 2013. (Hugo for scale)

It’s been raining on and off for our entire stay in Passau, with the rivers running high. They’re not threatening to overflow their banks, but the water moves swiftly, and it is visibly higher each day.

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If you have a sharp eye, you’ll start to notice flood marks on exterior walls. From bottom to top: 1862, 1786, 1899, 1787, and, high above, 2013.

I’ve started snapping a photo each time I see one.

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Bottom to top: 1786, 1899, 1787, 1954, 2013

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1862, 1954

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1954

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1899

I’ll keep looking for high water marks and hoping for sunshine as we enter our last week in Passau.

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