Wasserburg’s old town, which nestles in a bend of the Inn River, is one of the most beautiful in Bavaria. There is so much to enjoy, culturally speaking. And on Saturdays, music fills the air while shopping.
Wasserburg am Inn: Sights and Tips for a Short Get-Away
From the red Inn bridge, Wasserburg reveals its most beautiful side: a parade of pastel-coloured facades, some sporting small wooden balconies that look as if they have been glued on, others with fine terraces facing the river.
At its centre, the “Brucktor” gate, first mentioned in 1339, flanked by the Heiliggeist-Spital and the former “Fleischhaus”, forms the overture to an endearing, cosmopolitan and picture-perfect little town.
“My heart always fills with joy when I drive over the bridge,” enthuses musician Ben Leinenbach. “Arriving home couldn’t be more beautiful!” For 30 years, he has enriched Wasserburg’s diverse and creative cultural scene with various bands.
His latest baby, which he launched with graphic designer and artist Anna Schöll in 2020, is called “Steam Skunk”, a “Steampunk Art & Music Project”. Anna handles the colourful, “retro-futuristic” look. She makes the curious glasses for the seven band members out of anything she can get her hands on, including tea strainers and rabbit skulls.
Hot Tip for Weddings
Ben and Anna are among the 3,000 residents of the “island”, the rest of Wasserburg live in newer neighbourhoods on the other side of the characteristic bend of the Inn River. But the city’s heart can be found on the island. Life pulsates on the long stretch of Marienplatz, in Salzsenderzeile, Hofstatt or Ledererzeile.
„People really do come from all over to get married“
The focal point is the Gothic town hall built from 1459 onwards. In the “Kleiner Saal” (Small Hall), once Wasserburg’s courtroom, the 16th-century wall painting provides the setting for wedding ceremonies in a tremendous ambience. “People really do come from all over to get married,” says city guide, Thomas Rothmaier.
Even more impressive is the “Großer Saal” (Great Hall), built in 1905 after a town hall fire. Prince Regent Luitpold donated 30,000 Reichsmark to build this wood-panelled jewel. You can literally see the excellent acoustics – ideal for classical concerts.
A huge mural shows a historic salt train in vivid detail. Every child in Wasserburg knows the inscription on it, Rothmaier assures us, because the town owes its wealth to the salt trade. He quotes from memory: “How bad would it be for us if there were no salt in the world ...”.
On the Trail of Proverbs
During peak season, the guided tour of the historic town hall halls takes place from Monday to Friday at 1 pm. On certain dates, you can also explore the more than 200-year-old beer catacombs.
There, actors dressed in medieval costumes tell the town’s history. And emphasise that Wasserburg once boasted around fifteen breweries. Today, only a few still exist in the surrounding area, such as Unertl, Baderbräu or Gut Forsting.
Tours that get to the bottom of proverbs are particularly popular. Who knew that the German saying “Etwas auf dem Kerbholz” (having something on your mind) refers to the account of bakers who carved notches in a measuring stick? Or that the tanners on the Inn river would “lose their skins” (German saying “die Felle davonschwimmen”) time and again?
Classic guided tours of the once important trading town – which was also the port of the state capital Munich until the railway was built – are available regularly from Easter Monday until the end of October.
Sculpture Trail Along the Inn River
Those who prefer to set out on their own can walk along the Inn. More than thirty sculptures, some of considerable size, line the flood embankment on the bend in the Inn River over a length of roughly 1.5 kilometres. For example, Ernst Grünwald’s wooden “Sternengucker” (Stargazer), which has been somewhat damaged by the ravages of time, lies casually next to the footpath.
Leonard Schlögel’s sculpture “Isis” seems to gaze at the river in a state resting somewhere between thought and boredom. A group of hikers stops, descends the few metres to the huge shell limestone head and discusses. Doesn’t he look peaceful and friendly from one side, but almost threatening and grimacing from the other? A few hundred metres further on, the larger-than-life group of four known as “Geselliges Tier” by Jørgen May entices passers-by to take a selfie inside the installation.
Modern Art Adorning Old Walls
Katrin Meindl, the first chairwoman of the AK 68 art association, was so enthused when chance passers-by engage with the works. Importantly, it was the AK 68 that, upon the celebration of its 20th anniversary in 1988, began to recruit renowned sculptors to place their works, some of which are monumental, along the Inn.
The hub of the art association, which has existed since 1968, is the 16th-century Ganserhaus. . By making your way up creaking staircases, you can explore contemporary art in countless winding rooms. The association organises seven four-week exhibitions a year, the most important of which takes place in August, and which also includes the town hall as an exhibition venue.
Katrin’s special passion is street art and “lost places”, of which there are quite a few in and around Wasserburg. The deal works like this: for a certain period of time, AK 68 leases an abandoned vinegar factory or the former transformer station from the city, and hosts its performance there.
It even managed to get the internationally renowned street artist Mr Woodland to create several works on the huge walls of the abandoned factory – great art, but ephemeral in nature. Soon the complex will be demolished, “but I already have my eye on three or four other places,” Katrin says gleefully.
Popular Destination for Cyclists
Situated at the intersection of several long-distance cycle routes, Wasserburg is a charming place to stay – the “Hotel Fletzinger”, among others, is rich in tradition and well-attuned to cyclists and their needs. If you approach the town on the western variant of the Inn River cycle path, you will see the former Attel monastery with the Baroque parish church of St. Michael amidst rolling green hills from afar.
It houses a foundation that cares for people with disabilities. Musician Ben Leinenbach works part-time and founded the integrative “ABM Orchestra” 20 years ago, which stands for “Attler Bunte Mischung”. More than a dozen residents and carers from the foundation regularly take to the stage and perform their Bavarian interpretations of well-known hits with such enthusiasm that you just have to get your dancing feet moving.
Barefoot Path in the Adventure Pool
When looking to reinvigorate tired cyclists’ muscles, the “Badria” adventure pool complete with slides, small water falls and the heated “lake” in a generous outdoor space is ideal. Several saunas, two of which are located in the beautiful garden with a view across the fields to the church tower of the village of Eiselfing, provide genuine relaxation. After a day of pedalling, your feet will be delighted with unusual sensory stimuli on this barefoot trail: in the so-called "stork-walk" (Storchengang), you will walk over nutshells, mulch, stones, corks, twigs and earth.
If, instead, you wish to see Wasserburg, the stage destination, from above, why not climb in roughly 20 minutes south of the Inn River bridge via the “Kellerbergweg” path to the “Schöne Aussicht” (beautiful view), a place fully deserving of its name.
Juice, Coffee and Beautiful Things Made of Wood
As closed as Wasserburg appears to be given its snug location in the bend of the Inn River from a “bird’s eye view”, it remains so colourful and diverse in terms of its detail. This is ensured by the numerous small owner-managed shops. Many of them are located in shady arcades, for example, along Marienplatz: In the “Markthalle”, you can stock up on juices from the region; at “Grünkunft”, you can buy natural cosmetics and pretty, sustainably produced shopping bags, among other things.
In the “Ledererzeile” road, Marco Hekler recently opened his small wood shop “Holz-Laderl” for chopping boards, hob covers, wooden blocks and much more. He is very successful with his carpentry collective in Steinhöring, “but only doing things online is boring”. Now, in his new shop, he offers snacks and coffee from Dinzler Roastery in addition to personal advice.
„Robelo“ or „Hambela“?
If you’re a coffee fan, you should try a “Robelo” or “Hambela” at the Deliano coffee roastery right next to the Hofstatt. Be it Costa Rica or Ethiopia – Lukas Deliano roasts the best organic beans from all over the world and serves his delicious coffee like wine in a glass carafe. His grandfather, who immigrated from Italy, once founded a bakery here, and across the street the pastry café Deliano is a popular meeting place.
Music on “Market Saturday”
A small farmers’ market is held in front of the café every Thursday from 11 am to 4.30 pm. Next to the stalls with fruit, vegetables and juices, Gabi Gottschling immediately catches the eye with her “Pink Deli”.
Tattooed up to her neck and with a shock of pink hair, she sells her homemade vegan sauces from the back of a converted Piaggio Ape: chutney sauces, jalapeño-ketchup or chutneys she cooks up with the produce from her own garden in nearby Amerang. There is also a market in the Hofstatt on Saturdays.
On the initiative of the local Economic Development Association, a local band always accompanies the colourful market hustle and bustle: from 11.30 in the morning, there is music that fills the air for those doing a bit of shopping. It’s only logical that Ben Leinenbach has also played there, in a classic acoustic style with the “Trio Mio” of double bass, accordion, guitar and vocals.