Fortified Bishop’s Seat – The Veste Oberhaus in Passau

The fortress of Passau is overlooking the Altstadt (old city) within the three rivers of Inn, Ilz and Danube. It looks like it was built yesterday, so well maintained. But actually it was founded in 1219.

What was once a fortress for the Bishop of Passau, today hosts a museum, a youth-hostel and a restaurant (with a great view on the city and the rivers) as well as an open-air theater.

We walked up to the fortress crossing the old city of Passau, the Prinzregent-Luipold bridge and then up many stairs to the top of the hill St. Georgsberg and the castle. Part of the fortified system is the Veste Niederhaus below the fortress on the hill.

Ulrich II was the first prince-bishop (ecclesiastical lord) of Passau and built the fortress in 1219. The construction was done on a previous chapel dedicated to St. George. The fortress was meant as a status symbol to show the strength of the bishop against enemies from outside the city, but also inside the city which wished to get the independent status of a free imperial city (self-ruling, autonomous, subordinated only to the Holy Roman Empire).

During the centuries it was continuously extended and renovated and gives today a great view on 600 years of fortification techniques. It eventually became a look of a Renaissance princely residence.

In its life the fortress was attacked just five times, two by the citizens of Passau, but always without any success. Looking at it, it becomes clear that the position is one of the best and the chance to invade the fortress seems to be impossible.

The castle holds a sad story. Between 1535 and 1540 many Anabaptist Protestants were imprisoned here for their beliefs. Many died or were killed. During this period the Ausbund, a North American Amish hymnal, was written and is still used by Amish people today.

In the 18th century and in the beginning of the 19th century the fortress surrendered several times. Under Napoleon, it became a border outpost. 1802 the last bishop ruler had to go. Since then, it was used mainly for military purposes. Since 1932 the city of Passau gained possession of it and opened a museum.

We climbed the 200 steps of the Oberhausleiten-Stiege to reach the top of the hill and entering from a small side-gate. We walked through the walled area, surrounding another fortress and coming up to a big inner place. Here we walked around to the ‘Linde battery’ a terrace from where we had a wonderful overview on Passau and the rivers. Consciously I didn’t notice the different colors of the rivers, but they should be visible from here with the right light (I had evening sun coming up).

We didn’t visit the Rittersaal or knights’ hall. But we enjoyed very much the view of the city of Passau!










Passau, Lower Bavaria/Germany:

For further information:
The official website of Passau
Website of the Bavarian Tourism


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Authentic German Food: Braised Beef Rolls or Roulades

It is the way it is: my sweetie pie likes German cuisine. I grew up in Germany but never learnt how to cook there and never liked the German cuisine very much. In fact: my favorite German recipes are pancakes (northern German style thick pancakes filled with apples slices) and northern German style potato salad (with mayonnaise and yogurt). That’s it. Especially since the meat dishes are often very heavy in Germany, I like more the light Mediterranean cuisine.

So with a sweetheart who literally goes nuts for all German food, I have to learn from time to time some German recipe. This time on special request I prepared German braised beef rolls or – in German – Rinderrouladen.

I know them served with cooked red cabbage and potatoes, my sweetie would prefer potato dumplings.

I prepared the roulades the very German style with thin sliced pickles, onions and bacon. The mustard gives a very special taste to them. All is rolled up and hold together with toothpicks.

The roulades are cooked in a base of leak, carrots, onions and red wine. A teaspoon of tomato paste gives color and flavor. Important is that it cooks (braise) slowly, around one and a half hour.

Key-role is also that the roulades in the beginning have to be stir-fried to close the meat that it will not loose all its juice during the cooking process.

The roulades once were a dish of daily life, today – I guess because it is a little more work to prepare – it is also a typical festive dish. It has no flour (the meat can be floured a little before stear-frying, use tapioca flour then) and the gravy is creamy also without any starch. It is a complete healthy, paleo dish. I would serve them also with rice or better cauliflower rice instead of potatoes and red cabbage.

As meat use a special thin cut of topside beef/veal or round steak. Ask you butcher to cut it for roulades, he will know what you need. About the mustard: use any you have, a very simple one is OK. Just spread it thinly on the inner side of the roulades.

Note: With crock pot I don’t mean an electric slow-cooker! It’s like a casserole.

No toothpicks in the house? Use some string or thread.

My sweetheart felt like in heaven today when he was enjoying his lunch. For dinner at work he brought another batch. There are still enough for more lunches and dinners. You can make it ahead, in the fridge it is perfect for the next few days. You can portion it and freeze the roulades with the gravy. They will be perfect whenever you want them.

Enjoy!

Beef roulades Ger
German Braised Beef Rolls
Print Recipe
Servings
8
Cook Time Passive Time
2 hours 1.5 hours
Servings
8
Cook Time Passive Time
2 hours 1.5 hours
Beef roulades Ger
German Braised Beef Rolls
Print Recipe
Servings
8
Cook Time Passive Time
2 hours 1.5 hours
Servings
8
Cook Time Passive Time
2 hours 1.5 hours
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Prepare the onions, the leek, the carrot, the pickles and the parsley and put all of it in separate little plates.
  2. Open the roulades and one after the other prepare them. Beat the meat with a meat tenderizer, spread some mustard on the meat slice, put a slice of bacon, some onion slices, parsley. Now roll the roulade into a roll and fix the ends with some toothpicks. Spread some tapioca flour on the roulade. Proceed until you have 8 beef rolls.
  3. In a big crock pot or stew pot put some olive oil, let it heat and stir-fry the roulades from all sides that they are golden. Take them out and place them on a dish, set aside. Now add the carrot, leek and the remaining of the onion into the crock pot and stir-fry. Add the tomato paste, stir-fry, add half of the wine and let it simmer until the wine is nearly all gone.
  4. Now put back the roulades into the crock pot, add the rest of the wine and the water, season with salt and pepper. Cover the pot with its lit and let it cook/braise for an hour and a half. From time to time turn the roulades.
  5. The beef rolls are ready when you touch them with a spoon and the meat feels soft. Now take the meat rolls out and place them again on a dish. With a hand blender blend the vegetables and the sauce into a thick gravy. There is now additional flour needed. Season again if necessary. Put back the rouladen and let cool out or serve with red cabbage and potatoes.
Recipe Notes

The German Beef Rolls are best the day after, similar to a stew. You can also freeze portions of them, they will be perfect in any minute. 

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From Vitek to Rosenberg – the Castle of Český Krumlov

On our sight-seeing tour in Český Krumlov, we couldn’t miss the castle. It is overlooking the little medieval town and is the reason why the town exists. Today it is a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the most visited places in Czech Republic.

We were there on a cloudy day but with a lot of enthusiasm to jump into the past.

The first mention of the castle was in 1253, though the castle was built around 1240 by the Vitkovci family. Just 50 years later the family had no male descendants and the castle passed to the Rosenbergs, relatives to the family. They transformed and enlarged the castle, especially in the mid 16th century. The last ruler of the Rosenbergs sold the castle to the Emperor King Rudolf II who gave the castle to the Eggenberg family from Styria. Maria Ernestine von Schwarzenberg, married to an Eggenberg, made major changes into the Baroque style. The castle became a Schwarzenberg property until 1947 when it became state property under the new communist government.

The castle has 5 courtyards. The way to the castle is already like a fairy-tale walk. Through narrow cobbled roads (with a lot tempting little shops) you arrive at the tower. There is a moat around this part in which unfortunately a bear is imprisoned (they told me, I didn’t see him). Somewhere in the first huge courtyard there is the tourist information where you can buy several different guided tours. My sweetheart disappeared and after a while reappeared with cards for the castle and the theater.

Unfortunately we were not allowed to take photos inside the castle nor in the theater, not even paying for it. But out of the windows was allowed!

The guided tour in the castle was very interesting, we had an American tour guide from Florida. He was very well-informed about the history and could answer every question. He had a great way to let us dive into the history part of the old walls.

Later we had a guided tour through the oldest Baroque theater of the world. It is very small, the tour consists mainly of watching a video. But I still recommend the tour as you enter also backstage and see the old machinery and mechanisms to make the theater work. All made of wood and ingeniously constructed.
The theater was first built in 1680, but rebuilt in 1765/66 after a design by Andrea Altomonte. The carpenter work was done by a local man, while the curtains, the stage decoration and wall paintings (jaw dropping!) by two Viennese artists.

The theater today is exactly the same as it was more than 250 years ago. There are only two performances per year that are open to public.

We didn’t visit the Lapidarium with many statues from the castle and the gardens. Most of the sculptures are from J. A. Zinner and M. Giessler, court sculptors in the 18th century.

We haven’t been on the tower as well. The tower with its 54 meters height (162 steps) would have given a nice view of the city, but the weather was really bad, and we preferred to skip it.

But we went to see the Baroque castle gardens. This huge garden complex was built in the 17th century on the south-west side of the castle. It is 150 m/500 f wide and 750 m/2.460 f long. The gardens are surrounded by walls. There is a forest like part for horse-riding, a revolving auditorium, the Bellarie Summer House (closed but here I saw the little grotto) and of course a designed garden with water fountains and beautiful statutes.

I am not sure what I enjoyed more but I think the machinery in the theater. That was really amazing. The castle is beautiful from inside. Interesting is that we entered into the castle through the castle chapel. I liked also very much the ballroom in the castle, full of illusions.

It was a nearly day filling castle tour!
















Český Krumlov, South Bohemia/Czech Republic:

For further information:
The official website of Český Krumlov
Website of the Czech Tourism


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What is Saint Vitus doing in Český Krumlov?

One of the places I absolutely wanted to visit at our exploring day of Český Krumlov was the church. We were invited for the wedding of my Czech friend, and she asked me to take also (unofficial) photos. That’s why I needed to see the place before to know how to move and how NOT to be in the way of the official wedding photographer. And I was glad to have been there as I had some time in the church in silence, taking in the beauty and grandeur of the church.

The church is consecrated to San Vito (Saint Vitus) which for me is a very Sicilian saint and it sounds a little strange to me in the so far and different country of Bohemia.

The church was built in the 15th century in place of a smaller church that needed to be replaced for the growing community in the town. It seems, that the first evidence of the building is around 1329. The Gothic architecture is typical for the time of the 15th century. During the centuries there were extensions like the Chapel of St. John, a music gallery and the sacristy. In the Baroque period the altar and a few other things were remodeled.

Since the 19th century there were only repairs done at the outside, nothing new or different. The northern sacristy got a new interior look in 1997.

I thought it a little unusual that wherever I stood I nearly could see the complete church. Maybe because of being not too big, or the columns are not too many. The high tracery vault has an interesting coat-of-arms which appears to be from Linhart of Aldeberg, the architect of the church.

Some nobles of the Schwarzenberg and the Rosenberg families are buried here. One of them is Eleonore Amalia von Schwarzenberg, who seems to be known as a female ‘Vampire’. Truth is, she liked wolves and bred them. She had a strong bond with them, which made her in the eyes of the common people like a strange, ‘blood-drinking’ woman.

The day after for the wedding the church was pretty full, I guess at least 200 people were participating (plus many Asian tourists outside photographing and filming the wedding). The air was pretty chilly inside but the atmosphere was warm and nice.

It was a beautiful wedding ceremony held by my friend’s brother who happens to be a priest. The church offers a nice place where to escape the busy little town of Český Krumlov with its many tourists, intriguing shops, interesting museums and yummy food temptations.










Český Krumlov, South Bohemia/Czech Republic:

For further information:
The official website of Český Krumlov
Website of the Czech Tourism


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Czech Renaissance Gem: the Bohemian City of Krumlov

I was invited to a wedding of a very good friend last autumn. What I didn’t know was that she is from one of the most beautiful places in Europe. I only realized that when my sweetie started to send me tons of videos, documentaries and pictures of Český Krumlov. Still I didn’t realize I would go back in time.

I drove to Český Krumlov by car, coming from Passau in the very south-east of Germany. It is just two hours from there, passing through an amazingly beautiful nature. Especially in a golden autumn/fall nature. For me as a photography-lover and color-addicted it was hard not to take photos every eye-blink!

We eventually arrived in the afternoon and found very fast the place where we wanted to stay for the next 3 days. In the evening we had a short walk into the center, just to get something to eat, but there was a whole day in front of us to explore this little gem.

Český Krumlov, the Gate of Šumava (National Park), is located at the Vltava river, which is the national river and merges into the Elbe. The castle was erected in 1240 by the Vitkovci family and first mentioned 13 years later. It is located at a ford of an important trade route. Soon, around the castle people started to settle. The name of the place derives from the word ‘krumbe’ which means ‘crooked meadow’ and is middle high German (the river makes a very narrow curve at this point).

Only 50 years later the Vitkovci family died out and the castle was given to the Rosenberg family. Peter I of Rosenberg was the lord chamberlain of the Kingdom of Bohemia.

People in the growing town were mainly German-speaking coming from Bavaria and Austria. In the 15th century they found gold in the surroundings.

The castle was sold in the 17th century to the Habsburg emperor Rudolf II who gave the castle and town to the Eggenberg family. From 1719 until after WW II the castle belonged to the Schwarzberg family.

The communist era didn’t care very much about history and the town and castle fell into despair but since 1989 everything has been restored and is today one of the main attractions of the Czech Republic, after Prague. In fact: the town seemed to have an ‘Asian invasion’ when we were there.

Of course, it was also a place for filming: ‘The Illusionist’ for example was partly filmed in the brewery Pivovar Eggenberg.

One of the ‘twin towns’ is San Gimignano in Tuscany/Italy, where I was already several times.

The town has more than 300 UNESCO buildings, holds the oldest Baroque theater (at the castle), 7 museums and 4 galleries, several music festivals are given yearly, it has an own beer brewery (beer tasting possible), countless little, cozy restaurants and very many art shops (I was amazed by the Moldavite gemstone with its green color) and is surrounded by an amazing nature with hilly landscape, forests and little villages (sometimes just a handful of houses).

To go around in the little walled town is not very time-consuming. What takes time is to visit the many nice shops! And that you would like to try every single little restaurant. Time you need also for the castle (I recommend a castle tour!) and the castle gardens. The theater in the castle area is amazing, but the tour is not even an hour long because it’s very small.

I spent of course also some time in the St. Vitus church as the wedding would be held here.

The day after the wedding we had a brunch at my friend’s house but in the afternoon we were free, and we decided to drive a little in the surroundings just to look at the autumn/fall beauty, the little villages and to relax a bit.

We left the day after in the morning which I started by scraping ice from the car windows!


















Český Krumlov, South Bohemia/Czech Republic:

For further information:
The official website of Český Krumlov
Website of the Czech Tourism


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