Medieval boulevards, charming alleys and a defiant castle – Landshut has just what film crews are looking for. We took a look around the lively, picture-perfect city on the Isar and met performers from the world-famous “Landshuter Hochzeit” or “Landshut Wedding” Text: Anja Keul, Photos: Tobias Gerber
If the famous German film character “Eberhofer” has to go to the “big city”, something that he is extremely reluctant to do, the cinema audience gets to see Landshut from its most beautiful side. The stubborn village policeman is only marginally interested in this, but many viewers of the popular cinema hits from “Dampfnudelblues” to “Kaiserschmarrndrama” are more than enthused. The panoramic tracking shot from “Dreifaltigkeitsplatz” over the old town ensemble makes you want to finally experience the “Lower Bavarian metropolis” as the real thing.
A Boulevard Called “Altstadt” or “Old Town”
Yet the city – with its 73,000 inhabitants – does not feel like a film set at all, but rather lively and busy. You can get a good cappuccino in the cafés of the Old Town as early as eight in the morning. Whereby “Old Town” does not strictly refer to a district, but to a boulevard lined with pale yellow, sky-blue or pink gabled houses.
One of the most beautiful "Italian" inner courtyards north of the Alps
In the middle of it all lies the “Stadtresidenz” or “City Residence”, built from 1537 onwards, which encloses one of the most beautiful “Italian” inner courtyards north of the Alps. Duke Ludwig X of Bavaria was inspired by the Palazzo Te in Mantua. Although the inner courtyard is being renovated until 2026, the interior of the residence will remain open for guided tours.
The Highest Brick Tower In the World
The Old Town is about 700 metres long and 30 metres wide, with traffic calming in place and half of which comprises a pedestrian zone. The 130-metre-high tower of St. Martin’s Church is always in view of strollers here, Landshut’s great pride and a genuine superlative: it is the highest brick tower in the world!
It was completed around 1500, and construction of the massive Gothic church began as early as 1389. Landshut was already rich by the early Middle Ages. So rich, in fact, that the old town boulevard was given a no less elegant twin before the year 1300: the “New Town” running roughly parallel. It is lined with three-storey craftsmen’s and noble houses.
Just as the tower of St. Martin’s dominates the Old Town, “Burg Trausnitz” (Trausnitz Castle) towers over the New Town. It was the ancestral seat of the Wittelsbach dynasty from 1231, and for about 250 years, it was the residence and seat of government of the dukes of Lower Bavaria. And it is a film set par excellence. Whenever things were about to get particularly dramatic in the popular ARD series “Um Himmels Willen” (“Heavens above”), the film crew would laboriously haul their equipment up the narrow little road to the castle.
Most of the scenes in the series, however, in which Janina Hartwig – as the resourceful nun Hanna – got into a tiff with Mayor Wöller for 195 episodes, take place down in the city.
Series Shooting In the Town Hall
Fritz Wepper resided in the town hall as the mayor until the end of the series in the summer of 2021. It consists of three medieval town houses, the middle of which was acquired by the town council in 1380. Filming also took place in the completely wood-panelled “Rathausprunksaal” hall with circular bronze chandeliers and tiled fireplaces in the old “Landshuter Haferltradition” – a traditional interior design style.
Huge murals, created at the end of the 19th century by four Munich art and history painters, show what is probably the city’s greatest attraction in a flurry of colourful historical costumes, proud steeds and waving flags: the “Landshuter Hochzeit” or “Landshut Wedding”.
A Historical Spectacle: the “Landshuter Hochzeit”
In 1475, a noble echelon of society gathered in the town hall ballroom for the “Brauttanz” or “bridal dance”, and the ladies watched the jousting tournament in the Old Town from the windows. It was the most important social event of its time.
The city’s Duke, “Georg der Reiche”, one of the most important members of the Wittelsbach dynasty, took the Polish Princess Hedwig as his wife. Everyone who was anyone travelled to Landshut for the big party. Even Frederick III, the rather busy Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, did the honours.
Festive and dancing games, equestrian and knightly tournaments
Every four years, Landshut commemorates the epochal showpiece with the largest historical festival in Europe, now designated as an Intangible World Heritage Site by UNESCO. For three weeks, the whole city becomes the backdrop. No cinema film or TV series can compete with that, because everything is real and, above all, one hundred per cent authentic.
On four Sunday afternoons, visitors are able to experience the wedding procession; there are festive and dancing games, equestrian and knightly tournaments, jugglers, musicians and all kinds of medieval activities that spread throughout the city, totalling more than a hundred events.
Every Detail Must Be Right
The cultural association “Die Förderer e. V.”, founded in 1902, is responsible for this unique spectacle, in which roughly 2,500 Landshut residents – cast in a strict selection process – participate. This should have taken place back in 2021, but Corona shifted the four-year cycle, meaning that it is now set to run from 2023 onwards.
Until then, the huge array of costumes must be carefully maintained. And all the participants must make sure that their hairstyles are just right until the next “Landshut Wedding 1475”: Noble ladies shoulder-length, squires at least above the earlobes. A dedicated committee watches over every detail, from the fur trim on the princely ladies’ hats, to the shade of the leggings.
Shopping and Feasting
Before and after this medieval-like state of emergency, Landshut is a great place to “stroll”, undisturbed by mercenaries or soldier troops who love to sing.
Small boutiques, speciality shops and delicatessens can be found in the beautifully decorated alleys between the old town and the new town. Actress Janina Hartwig also appreciates the shopping opportunities in Landshut.
Hidden courtyard beer gardens, feasting on the river Isar
When it comes to gastronomy, Landshut is an open-air city with both Bavarian and international restaurant terraces, as well as hidden courtyard beer gardens. Those with an appetite for Asian cuisine can choose from a surprising number of Vietnamese or fusion restaurants.
It is particularly nice to sit directly on the river Isar, for example, in the “Biergarten zur Insel” on the “Mühleninsel” or in the “Isar-Klause”. There, you can enjoy fine scallops or hearty schnitzel on a “raft” moored in the river, with the Isar rushing past.
Brewing and Pottery
Many restaurants have signs indicating the beers they serve. And these are rarely the big Munich brands, but rather mostly the local breweries “Wittmann” and “Landshuter Brauhaus”.
The latter was founded in 1493 and still brews in two huge, decades-old copper kettles in the middle of the city; however, a move to a new building on the outskirts is imminent.
Of course, the two breweries will also be serving their beer at the Landshut Wedding. And naturally, glasses and bottles are forbidden for the 2,500 participants in their historical costumes. They take their drink from copper vessels or earthenware tankards, like the ones master ceramist Uli Schosser still makes today. Due to the good clay found in the area, Landshut developed into a centre of pottery as early as the Middle Ages.
All Real Film Sets
The master ceramist, who also keeps horses on his workshop farm in Neufraunhofen, was himself one of the lance-wielding knights of the Landshut Wedding for many years.
On the way to his hidden estate with its small showroom, we pass the market town of Frontenhausen, the film double for the fictional “Niederkaltenkirchen” of the “Eberhofer” crime novels with its iconic roundabout.
The filming locations in Landshut are much more impressive. Actress Janina Hartwig introduces them on seven virtual city tours – from the “Rathaus” (town hall), to the promenade along the River Isar and via the green “Mühleninsel” (mill island) to Trausnitz Castle. With the steeple of St. Martin’s in the foreground, anyone can take cinematic shots from up there.