Ratisbon – Germany And Austria

It was dark when we entered Ratisbon, and, having been recommended to the Hotel of the Agneau Blanc, we drove thither, and alighted-close to the very banks of the Danube-and heard the roar of its rapid stream, turning several mills, close, as it were, to our very ears. The master of the hotel, whose name is Cramer, and who talked french very readily, received us with peculiar courtesy; and, on demanding the best situated room in the house, we were conducted on the second floor, to a chamber which had been occupied, only two or three days before, by the Emperor of Austria himself, on his way to Aix-la-Chapelle. The next morning was a morning of wonder to us. Our sitting-room, which was a very lantern, from the number of windows, gave us a view of the rushing stream of the Danube, of a portion of the bridge over it, of some beautifully undulating and vine-covered hills, in the distance, on the opposite side—and, lower down the stream, of the town walls and water-mills, of which latter we had heard the stunning sounds on our arrival. The whole had a singularly novel and pleasing appearance.

The Town Hall was large and imposing; but the Cathedral, surrounded by booths—it being fairtime—was, of course, the great object of my attention. In short, I saw enough within an hour to convince me that I was visiting a large, curious, and well-peopled town; replete with antiquities, and including several of the time of the Romans, to whom it was necessarily a very important station. Ratisbon is said to contain a population of about 20,000 souls.

The cathedral can boast of little antiquity. It is almost a building of yesterday; yet it is large, richly ornamented on the outside, especially on the west, between the towers—and is considered one of the noblest structures of the kind in Bavaria. The interior wants that decisive effect which simplicity produces. It is too much broken into parts, and covered with monuments of a very heterogeneous description. Near it I traced the cloisters of an old convent or monastery of some kind, now demolished, which could not be less than five hundred years old. The streets of Ratisbon are generally picturesque, as well from their undulating forms, as from the antiquity of a great number of the houses. The modern parts of the town are handsome, and there is a pleasant intermixture of trees and grass plats in some of these more recent portions. There are some pleasing public walks, after the English fashion; and a public garden, where a colossal sphinx,’ erected by the late philosopher Gleichen, has a very imposing appearance. Here is also an obelisk erected to the memory of Gleichen himself, the founder of these gardens; and a monument to the memory of Kepler, the astronomer; which latter was luckily spared in the assault of this town by the French in 1809.

But these are, comparatively, every-day objects. A much more interesting source of observation, to my mind, were the very few existing relics of the once celebrated monastery of St. Emmeramand a great portion of the remains of another old monastery, called St. James—which latter may in-deed be designated the College of the Jacobites; as the few members who inhabit it were the followers of the house and fortunes of the Pretender, James Stuart. The Monastery or Abbey of St. Emmeram was one of the most celebrated through-out Europe; and I suspect that its library, both of MS’S. and printed books, was among the principal causes of its celebrity. Of all interesting objects of architectural antiquity in Ratisbon, none struck me so forcibly—and, indeed, none is in itself so curious and singular-as the Monastery of St. James. The front of that portion of it, connected with the church, should seem to be of an extremely remote antiquity. It is the ornaments, or style of architecture, which give it this character of antiquity. The ornaments, which are on each side of the doorway, or porch, are quite extraordinary.