A Concert of the Largest Cathedral Organ of the World

One of the main attractions in Passau is for sure the St. Stephen’s cathedral. It is located right in the heart of the old city and gives a wonderful example of Baroque architecture. We were very much lucky as we could attend a classic organ concert as well.

The very first Christian church on this site was built already in 450 AD. A church dedicated to St. Stephen was built in 720 AD. 250 years later the church was destroyed during two besiegements of Otto II. In 982, just four years later, the construction of a new one started. After this there were only enlargements or renovation. The Baroque church how we see it today was built mainly in the 17th century, after many parts of the church were lost during a fire. The Gothic eastern side is a remaining from the church before.

The architect of the church was Carlo Lurago, an Italian architect from Lake Como who was very active in Prague. The interior decoration was given to G. B. Carlone, also an Italian artist from Genoa and Carpoforo Tencalla took care of the frescoes. He was an Italo-Swiss from Bissone in the Swiss Ticino.

The cathedral is impressive, beautifully decorated, very rich in art. The church in mainly white which emphasize the colorful paintings. The golden chancel is rich though not excessive. The high windows and of course the white give the church a wonderful light and brightness.

We were really very lucky to be there to listen to a wonderful classic organ concert. I had time to admire the beauty of the church, meanwhile I figured out, what I want to photograph later.

The organ is the biggest cathedral organ in the world and second largest organ (the largest is in Los Angeles in the First Congregational Church). It has 17.774(!) pipes, 4 chimes and 223 registers. They can be played singular or all together with the five-manual general console.

The organ grew during the centuries and many pieces had to be replaced because of bad maintenance or just because they were fragile. Every organ was built separately and has its own tone, unique but perfect alone or together.

The center organ is the main organ. The case was carved by J. M. Götz in 1733. In the western loft there is the general console and a master organist, like we had for the concert, can play all together as one gigantic organ or all of them separately.

The cathedral has also 8 bells in the two bell towers. Two large in the southern tower, and 6 in the northern tower. There is a ninth bell near to the door to the sacristy and is called ‘Zeichenglocke’.

The St. Stephen’s cathedral is for sure one of the most visited buildings of Passau. I think, it is worth having also a look into the many other but smaller churches the city offers. The Mariahilf church on the other side of the Inn is a great choice. From there you have a beautiful view on Passau old city and of course the St. Stephen’s cathedral.




















Passau, Lower Bavaria/Germany:

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


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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


Posted in Cech Republic, Europe, ON TRAVEL | Tagged | Leave a comment