Wochenmarkt am Alten Kornmarkt in Regensburg
Regensburg for All

Everything about the City by the Danube screams medieval – everything but its approach to inclusion. Many of the World Heritage Site’s essential attractions are now accessible to all.

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Experience Accessible Regensburg

Just when you thought that the church spires and city-gate towers really had you tingling, the cathedral takes you on a rollercoaster ride that ends with a headlong plunge into a network of medieval courtyards. The ride continues down narrow old town alleys, over the city walls, and out onto the Danube. The Stone Bridge sure feels peculiar, doesn’t it?

Tastmodell: Regensburg um 1700 n. Chr.
Auf der Steinernen Brücke in Regensburg
Durch die Kramgasse zum Domplatz in Regensburg

Also for wheelchair users: the Stone Bridge

Whether you are a blind person or have 6/6 vision, it always feels good to kick off your visit to a UNESCO World Heritage Site by getting in touch with the past. The best place to do that in Regensburg is the bronze relief map near the river, a truly hands-on visitor experience which depicts the city in the seventeenth century. And besides, the map is ideally situated. Mere steps away, you will find many of the best-preserved medieval city in Germany’s absolute highlights. The lion’s share of them are fully accessible. That includes the Stone Bridge, which became a breeze for wheelchair users to cross after its most-recent round of refurbishment.

Standing in the river like a line of hulking figures with feet the shape of ships, the Stone Bridge connects the ancient Bavarian Stadtamhof district to the Old Town of Regensburg. The spectacularly lustrous cathedral, whose giant stained glass windows date back to the thirteenth and  fourtheenth centuries, is easily accessible to all visitors as are many of the Old Town’s medieval streets and alleys. Whether you’re visiting in a wheelchair or just aren’t very fleet of foot, the ancient cobblestones have been levelled to make moving around easier. Another attraction that’s recently been made accessible is the meeting chamber of the Perpetual Diet, located in the historic Town Hall.

Das Alte Rathaus mit Tourist Information in Regensburg

City tour with sign language

“Regensburg has figured out how to combine environmental sustainability with social sustainability,” explains Mathilde Brandis, Regensburg Tourism’s Inclusion Officer. “Many of Regensburg’s restaurants have been converted into accessible meeting places – with regional cuisine, fair trade groceries, dishes for every palate, and options for people with allergies.” In 2019, Regensburg got its first all-accessible inn with the opening of Hotel Includio. It goes without saying that both of Regensburg’s tourist information centres are accessible as well, Brandis assures. 

“When we see visitors comfortable in Regensburg and feeling like they can explore the city without having to worry about barriers, it feels amazing. Inclusive city tours are great for that. There are even tours available in both easy-to-understand language (‘leichte Sprache’) and German sign language for those who need them.” The travel guide Regensburg Barrierefrei is a wonderful reference for getting accessibility advice and planning your visit.

Rollstuhlfahrer in der Tourist Information im Alten Rathaus von Regensburg
Luftbild Regensburg an der Donau

Change begins in the mind

It’s the kind of resource that even experienced travellers like Ferdinand Bindrum depend on. Having journeyed the world extensively in his wheelchair, the Munich-based computer scientist understands all too well how quickly some mundane detail can mar a travel experience.

“How easy is it to find an accessible toilet? I can’t emphasise you just how important that is,” he explains. From the tourist perspective, there are a few crucial considerations. Are the attractions you would like to visit accessible by wheelchair? Is getting there a hassle? When it comes to the topic of urban inclusion, Ferdinand believes that two places in the world stand out in particular: Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.

“No matter which tourist attraction I visited in either country, there was an effort to make it accessible so that I would have a terrific holiday. Leaders here in Germany are going to need to have a shift in thinking if we really want to make accessibility a reality.”

Bronze-Tastmodell neben der Historischen Wurstkuchl in Regensburg

Tactile city models, renovated cobblestones

Regensburg is leading by example, as he was able to experience for himself on this sunny autumn afternoon. “When it comes to inclusion, I get the impression the city really put its money where its mouth is. You can feel it when you visit. What really impressed me was the refurbished cobblestone. I hear that’s becoming more and more common. It makes moving around a lot easier for wheelchair users like me. I also found it a positive surprise that the urban planners who came up with the current design took people with disabilities other that wheelchair users into consideration.” The 3D city map is a prime example.

The House of Bavarian History is another attraction with which you can get close and personal before you even visit, its likeness standing in front of the life-sized museum’s entrance in bronze relief. It’s true that this bronze ride is not quite as exciting as the medieval Regensburg roller coaster: No frills but with plenty of character, this mammoth on the banks of the Danube was inaugurated in 2019.

Tastmodell im Haus der Bayerischen Geschichte in Regensburg
Mit dem Rollstuhl im Haus der Bayerischen Geschichte

Cultural tip: The "House of Bavarian History"

A majestic Bavarian lion welcomes visitors to the House’s light-flooded foyer. Whether you’re here on foot or in a wheelchair, this is the moment to strap yourself in for a journey back in time. The trip will take you all the way from the birth of modern Bavaria during the Napoleonic Wars to the present day. You’ll meet illustrious figures ranging from the Fairy Tale King Ludwig II to the kings of Bavarian New Wave, the Spider Murphy Gang.

If you have a free afternoon, the House of Bavarian History is a great place to spend it. One of the attractions that must be seen to be believed is a giant satellite image of Bavaria displayed on a giant light table made up of interactive tablets that put information about each of the 2,000-plus communities in the Free State at the visitor’s finger tips. It’s the kind of attraction that makes a person want to become a scientist all by itself.

Mit dem Rollstuhl im Haus der Bayerischen Geschichte in Regensburg

The museum is made all the more special by the fact that 300 of its 1,000 exhibits were donated by local citizens. The pocket watch which belonged to the Oberalteich farmer Ludwig Gruber, for example. It still contains the bullet that hit the timepiece on the Western Front in 1916, thereby sparing the soldier’s life.

Or little Anneliese Weber’s teddy bear, which the girl would hold tight as she hunkered down in a Würzburg air raid shelter. Another exhibit addresses the roots of the unspeakable martial madness: Visitors can reflect on an enormous globe taken from one of Hitler’s offices, located in the National Socialist leadership’s “Führerbau” headquarters in Munich.

Interaktive Ausstellung im Besucherzentrum Welterbe in Regensburg

UNESCO World Heritage Site and a historic inn

By the way, did you know there were actually two UNESCO World Heritage sites in Regensburg to explore? The first time Regensburg received the honour was in 2006 when Old Town and Stadtamhof were designated part of the world’s heritage.  The Danubian Limes built by the Romans was then added to the UNESCO list in 2021. The most spectacular legacy that the Romans left to Regenburg proper– besides their footwear of course – is undoubtedly the Porta Praetoria, the nearly two-millennium-old former northern gate of the fortification known as Castra Regina.

It’s always nice when a city tour comes full circle so why not finish where you started?  Situated only a few short steps away from the bronze relief map stands the Historic Wurstkuchl kitchen. This sausage specialist has been a local culinary institution for over 500 years! The interactive exhibition space on World Heritage Site visitor centre’s upper levels is also well worth a visit. And of course, it too is accessible to all!

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