Thanks to ship’s captain Renate Schweiger, we get to experience the unique Danube Gorge near Weltenburg in all its glory
Ship’s captain Renate Schweiger
The Weltenburger Enge (Weltenburg narrowness) with the Danube Gorge is one of the oldest nature reserves in Bavaria. Anyone travelling along the Danube through this unique cultural landscape south of Regensburg in the company of Captain Renate Schweiger will experience an unforgettable natural spectacle.
And while enjoying the breathtaking landscape visitors travel along some major historical sights and places in Eastern Bavaria like the Walhalla Hall of Fame, the Unesco-City of Regensburg, the Liberation Hall in Kelheim and the Weltenburg Abbey at the Danube Gorge.
Regensburg, the once-flourishing trading metropolis on the Danube, has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its well-preserved medieval old town. Visitors looking for a peaceful journey can take a cruise from the Steinerne Brücke (Stone Bridge) through the beautiful Danube Valley.
King Ludwig I built the Walhalla just ten kilometres outside the city gates. Its location on the banks of the river was carefully chosen. This magnificent classicist Hall of Fame comes into view from afar. The Weltenburger Enge with the Danube Gorge is situated downstream, 30 kilometres south of Regensburg.
Cast off with Captain Schweiger
This is the territory of Renate Schweiger. This Captain of the inland waterways knows the Danube well, and all the many beautiful attractions along its banks. Her personal highlight is the Danube Gorge. She never tires of marvelling at this natural spectacle and conveying to her passengers the uniqueness of this region.
"The guests are almost speechless and completely enthusiastic"
A cruise with the Captain starts in Kelheim. The Befreiungshalle (Liberation Hall) on the Michelsberg is the symbol of the city. Like the Walhalla in Regensburg, it was built on the orders of King Ludwig I. The King loved magnificent castles, monuments and squares.
He had the monumental victory hall built high above the Danube to honour the War of Liberation against Napoleon.
A fairy tale landscape
Down at the jetty on Stadtknechtstraße, it’s time to cast off! Captain Renate Schweiger and her passengers are embarking on a 45-minute cruise through the fairy tale landscape of the Danube Gorge.
150 million years ago, this area was covered by a flat, sub-tropical sea. Corals and sponges built vast reefs out of limestone. Today, the Danube flows some five kilometres through the towering limestone cliffs.
The cruise ship glides past lush forests and rock faces up to 100 metres high. The centuries-old rock formations attracted aristocrats and wealthy citizens to the region in the 19th century. In 1840 the idyllic landscape was declared a natural monument by King Ludwig I.
Nature as a gift
Renate Schweiger spent her childhood here between the rocks and the water. Today, this captain of the inland waterways shares her enthusiasm for her home with guests from all over the world.
“For me, the most fascinating thing is the entrance into the Danube Gorge. You feel as if you’re standing in front of a closed rock wall. Even though I travel through it at least five times a day, this spot is still the most thrilling moment.”
Born and bred in Kelheim, she considers nature as a gift and protects it wherever she can. “For example, we do not offer night cruises and we take a break from December to March. That allows nature to recover.”
The ship glides silently through the nature reserve at a speed of five to six kilometres an hour. The atmosphere on board is good, as always. It is the “indescribable feeling” of calm that visitors appreciate and love.
Tasty: a beer from the Klosterbrauerei
The crowning glory is Weltenburg Abbey. It was founded in the year 600 and is Bavaria’s oldest monastic complex. The splendid Asamkirche of this Benedictine Abbey is one of the masterpieces of European Baroque.
Beer from the abbey’s brewery has also won numerous accolades. It can be tasted in the beer garden of the Klosterschenke Weltenburg, along with other regional specialities.
“There’s always a great buzz after every trip,” says an enthusiastic Renate Schweiger, whose parents ran the first cruises from Kelheim to Weltenburg Abbey and back in 1969. “For me it was always clear: I was going to work on the boat too.” This really is her dream job.