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St. Stephen's Cathedral in Passau
Passau ( or , also ; ; , ) is a town in Lower Bavaria, Germanymarker, known also as the Dreiflüssestadt (City of Three Rivers), because the Danube is joined there by the Innmarker from the South, and the Ilzmarker coming out of the Bavarian Forestmarker to the North.

Its population is 50,415, of whom about 10,000 are students at the local University of Passaumarker. The university, founded in the late 1970s, is the extension of the Institute for Catholic Studies (Katholisch-Theologische Fakultät) founded in 1622. It is renowned in Germany for its institutes of Economics, Law, Theology, Computer Sciences and Cultural Science.


Passau was an ancient Roman colony of ancient Noricum called Batavis, Latin for "for the Batavi." The Batavi were an ancient Germanic tribe often mentioned by classical authors, and they were regularly associated with the Suebian marauders, the Heruli.

During the second half of the 5th century, St. Severinus established a monastery here. In 739, an Irish monk called Boniface founded the diocese of Passau and this was the largest diocese of the Holy Roman Empire for many years.

In the Treaty of Passau (1552), Archduke Ferdinand I, representing Emperor Charles V, secured the agreement of the Protestant princes to submit the religious question to a diet. This led to the Peace of Augsburg in 1555.

During the Renaissance and early modern period, Passau was one of the most prolific centres of sword and bladed weapon manufacture in Germany (after Solingenmarker). Passau smiths stamped their blades with the Passau wolf, usually a rather simplified rendering of the wolf on the city's coat-of-arms. Superstitious warriors believed that the Passau wolf conferred invulnerability on the blade's bearer, and thus Passau swords acquired a great premium. As a result, the whole practice of placing magical charms on swords to protect the wearers came to be known for a time as "Passau art." (See Eduard Wagner, Cut and Thrust Weapons, 1969). Other cities' smiths, including those of Solingen, recognized the marketing value of the Passau wolf and adopted it for themselves. By the 17th century, Solingen was producing more wolf-stamped blades than Passau was.

Passau was secularised and divided between Bavariamarker and Salzburgmarker in 1803. The portion belonging to Salzburgmarker became part of Bavariamarker in 1805.

From 1892 until 1894 Adolf Hitler and his family lived in Passau. The city archives mention Hitler being in Passau on 4 different occasions in the 1920s for speeches.

During World War II the town housed three sub-camps of the infamous Mauthausen-Gusen concentration campmarker: Passau I (Oberilzmühle), Passau II (Waldwerke Passau-Ilzstadt) and Passau III (Jandelsbrunn). It was the site of a post World War II American sector displaced persons camp.


The City of Passau is subdivided into eight statistical districts, which in general coincide with formerly separate municipalities.
Statistical Districts of Passau

Nr. District Area



pro km²
1 Altstadt 152.6018 3067 2010 historical center, with St. Nikola (incorporated 1870)
2 Innstadt 508.9354 4861 955 right of Inn river, incorporated 1923 as Beiderwies
3 Haidenhof Süd 406.9042 4810 1182 1909 Haidenhof municipality incorporated
4 Haidenhof Nord 871.8241 11292 1295 1909 Haidenhof municipality incorporated
5 Heining 2085.9484 11121 533 incorporated 1972-07-01
6 Hacklberg 1668.8038 5553 333 incorporated 1972-07-01
7 Hals 407.3414 1491 366 incorporated 1972-07-01
8 Grubweg 857.9621 7202 839 incorporated 1972-07-01
  Passau 6954.9200 49397 710  

Main sights

Tourism in Passau focuses mainly on the three rivers, the St. Stephen's Cathedralmarker (Der Passauer Stephansdom) and the "Old City" (Die Altstadt). With 17,774 pipes and 233 registers, the organ at St. Stephen's was long held to be the largest church pipe organ in the world and is today second in size only to the organ at First Congregational Church, Los Angeles, which was expanded in 1994. Organ concerts are held daily between May and September. St.Stephen is a true masterpiece of Italian Baroque,built by Italian architect Carlo Lurago and decorated in part by Carpoforo Tencalla. Many river cruises down the Danube start at Passau and there is a cycling path all the way down to Viennamarker. It is also notable for its gothic and baroque architecture. The town is dominated by the Veste Oberhausmarker and the former fortress of the Bishop, on the mountain crest between the Danube and the Ilz rivers. Right beside the town hall is the Scharfrichterhausmarker, an important jazz and cabaret stage on which political cabaret is performed.

Passau from the Veste Oberhaus.
In front the Danube River
Passau from the South.
In front the Inn River

Twin cities

Notable people

See also


  1. Wir über uns
  2. Area figures accurate to the square meter taken from: Stadt Passau Stadtplanung/ Abteilung Geoinformation und Vermessung (April 6, 2009). The sum of these values is 6960.3211 hectares, which is slightly more than the official total of 6954.96 hectares

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