For the district, see Passau (district).

Donaulände and Old town

Coat of arms
Coordinates: 48°34′0″N 13°28′0″E / 48.56667°N 13.46667°E / 48.56667; 13.46667Coordinates: 48°34′0″N 13°28′0″E / 48.56667°N 13.46667°E / 48.56667; 13.46667
Country Germany
State Bavaria
Admin. region Niederbayern
District Urban district
  Lord Mayor Jürgen Dupper (SPD)
  Total 69.58 km2 (26.86 sq mi)
Population (2015-12-31)[1]
  Total 50,566
  Density 730/km2 (1,900/sq mi)
Time zone CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)
Postal codes 94001–94036
Dialling codes 0851
Vehicle registration PA

Passau (German pronunciation: [ˈpasaʊ]) 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.

Passau's population is 50,415, of whom about 11,000 are students at the local University of Passau. The university, founded in the late 1970s, is the extension of the Institute for Catholic Studies (Katholisch-Theologische Fakultät) founded in 1622.[2] It is renowned in Germany for its institutes of economics, law, theology, computer science and Cultural Studies.


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.[3]

Passau was an ancient Roman colony of ancient Noricum called Batavis, Latin for "for the Batavi." The Batavi were an ancient Germanic tribe often mentioned by classical authors, and they were regularly associated with the Suebian marauders, the Heruli.

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.

Passau c. 1581

In the Treaty of Passau (1552), 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.[4] 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.

Passau was secularised and divided between the Electorate of Bavaria and the Electorate of Salzburg in 1803. The portion belonging to Salzburg became part of Bavaria in 1805.

Passau 1892.

From 1892 until 1894, Adolf Hitler and his family lived in Passau.[5] 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.

In November 1933, the building of Nibelungenhalle (Hall of the Nibelungs) was announced. Intended to hold 8,000 to 10,000 guests, and another 30,000 in front of it, in 1935 the hall also became quarters for a unit of the Austrian Legion.[6] Beginning in 1934, these troops had occupied a building that belonged to Sigmund Mandl, a Jewish merchant. That building, in turn, was referred to as SA barracks.[7]

Beginning in 1940, Passau offered the building at Bräugasse 13 to Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle.[8]

During World War II, the town also housed three sub-camps of the infamous Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp: Passau I (Oberilzmühle),[9] Passau II (Waldwerke Passau-Ilzstadt) and Passau III (Jandelsbrunn).

On 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."

It was the site of a post World War II American sector displaced persons camp.

High-water scale 1501-2002 at Passau as of September 2012

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 [10] Peak elevations of floods as early as 1501 are displayed on a wall at the Old City Hall.[11] Flood water reaches the base of that wall on average once every 5 years.[11]:19


Areas of open council in Passau

Till 2013, the City of Passau was subdivided into eight statistical districts, which in general coincide with formerly separate municipalities. Since 2013, the city is divided in 16 so-called areas of open council ("Bürgerversammlungsgebiete").

Main sights

Tourism in Passau focuses mainly on the three rivers, the St. Stephen's Cathedral (Der Passauer Stephansdom) and the "Old City" (Die Altstadt). With 17,774 pipes and 233 registers,[12] 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. Many river cruises down the Danube start at Passau and there is a cycling path all the way down to Vienna. It is also notable for its gothic and baroque architecture. The town is dominated by the Veste Oberhaus and the former fortress of the Bishop, on the mountain crest between the Danube and the Ilz rivers. Right beside the town hall is the Scharfrichterhaus, an important jazz and cabaret stage on which political cabaret is performed.

Passau from the Veste Oberhaus. In front the Danube River
Passau from the South. In front the Inn River

Migrant entry point

Due to its location on the German-Austrian border, and in the south-east of the country, Passau has become a major migrant entry point into Germany. Refugees and economic migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa who have reached Europe, often entering either overland via Greece or across the sea via the Mediterranean (see Operation Triton), then head north and sometimes enter Germany. In 2015 the BBC reported that traffickers drive migrants and refugees through Austria and leave them on the side of the autobahn. The migrants and refugees then often walk unaccompanied into Passau, the first German town northwards. This situation has caused the government of Passau to divert funds from flood prevention to housing and feeding the refugees and migrants, around 10% of whom are unaccompanied children.[13]

Twin cities

Passau has 9 twin cities:[14]

Notable people

See also


  1. "Fortschreibung des Bevölkerungsstandes". Bayerisches Landesamt für Statistik und Datenverarbeitung (in German). June 2016.
  2. Wir über uns
  3. Collis, John. The Celts: Origins, Myth and Inventions. Tempus Publishing, 2003. ISBN 0-7524-2913-2
  4. Anna Rosmus Hitlers Nibelungen, Samples Grafenau 2015, pp. 201
  5. Anna Rosmus Hitlers Nibelungen, Samples Grafenau 2015, pp. 20f
  6. Anna Rosmus Hitlers Nibelungen, Samples Grafenau 2015, pp. 98-101
  7. Anna Rosmus Hitlers Nibelungen, Samples Grafenau 2015, pp. 102f
  8. Anna Rosmus Hitlers Nibelungen, Samples Grafenau 2015, pp. 241ff
  9. Anna Rosmus Hitlers Nibelungen, Samples Grafenau 2015, pp. 207f
  11. 1 2 Eychaner, J.H. (2015) Lessons from a 500-year record of flood elevations Association of State Floodplain Managers, Technical Report 7 URL accessed 2015-07-31.
  13. "Städtepartnerschaften". Retrieved 24 October 2014.

Further reading

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Passau.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Passau.
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