REGENSBURG (Ratisbon), a city and episcopal see of Germany, in the kingdom of Bavaria, and the capital of the government district of the Upper Palatinate. Pop. (1905) 48,412. It is situated on the right bank of the Danube, opposite the influx of the Regen, 86 m. by rail N.E. from Munich, and 60 m. S.E. of Nuremberg. On the other side of the river is the suburb Stadt-am-Hof, connected with Regensburg by a long stone bridge of the 12th century, above and below which are the islands of Oberer and Unterer Wörth. In appearance the town is quaint and romantic, presenting almost as faithful a picture of a town of the early middle ages as Nuremberg does of the later. One of the most characteristic features in its architecture is the number of strong loopholed towers attached to the more ancient dwellings. The interesting “street of the envoys” (Gesandtenstrasse) is so called because it contained the residences of most of the envoys to the German diet, whose coats-of-arms may still be seen on many of the houses.
The cathedral, though small, is a very interesting example of pure German Gothic. It was founded in 1275, and completed in 1634, with the exception of the towers, which were finished in 1869. The interior contains numerous interesting monuments, including one of Peter Vischer's masterpieces. Adjoining the cloisters are two chapels of earlier date than the cathedral itself, one of which, known as the “old cathedral,” goes back perhaps to the 8th century. The church of St James—also called Schottenkirche—a plain Romanesque basilica of the 12th century, derives its name from the monastery of Irish Benedictines (“Scoti”) to which it was attached; the principal doorway is covered with very singular grotesque carvings. The old parish church of St Ulrich is a good example of the Transition style of the 13th century, and contains a valuable antiquarian collection. Examples of the Romanesque basilica style are the church of Obermünster, dating from 1010, and the abbey church of St Emmeran, built in the 13th century, and remarkable as one of the few German churches with a detached belfry. The beautiful cloisters of the ancient abbey, one of the oldest in Germany, are still in fair preservation. In 1809 the conventual buildings were converted into a palace for the prince of Thurn and Taxis, hereditary postmaster-general of the Holy Roman Empire. The town hall, dating in part from the 14th century, contains the rooms occupied by the imperial diet from 1663 to 1806. An historical interest also attaches to the Gasthof zum Goldenen Kreuz (Golden Cross Inn), where Charles V. made the acquaintance of Barbara Blomberg, the mother of Don John of Austria (b. 1547). The house is also shown where Kepler died in 1630. Perhaps the most pleasing modern building in the city is the Gothic villa of the king of Bavaria on the bank of the Danube. At Kumpfmühl, in the immediate neighbourhood of the city, was discovered, in 1885, the remains of a Roman camp with an arched gateway; the latter, known as the Porta Praetoria, was cleared in 1887. Among the public institutions of the city should be mentioned the public library, picture gallery, botanical garden, and the institute for the making of stained glass. The educational establishments include two gymnasia, an episcopal clerical seminary, a seminary for boys and a school of church music. Among the chief manufactures are iron and steel wares, pottery, parquet flooring, tobacco, and lead pencils. Boat-building is also prosecuted, and a brisk transit trade is carried on in salt, grain and timber.
Near Regensburg are two very handsome classical buildings, erected by Louis I. of Bavaria as national monuments of German patriotism and greatness. The more imposing of the two is the Walhalla, a costly reproduction of the Parthenon, erected as a Teutonic temple of fame on a hill rising from the Danube at Donaustauf, 6 m. to the east. The interior, which is as rich as coloured marbles, gilding, and sculptures can make it, contains the busts of more than a hundred German worthies. The second of King Louis's buildings is the Befreiungshalle at Kelheim, 14 m. above Regensburg, a large circular building which has for its aim the glorification of the heroes of the war of liberation in 1813.
The early Celtic settlement of Radespona (L. Lat. Ratisbona) was chosen by the Romans, who named it Castra Regina, as the centre of their power on the upper Danube. It is mentioned as a trade centre as early as the 2nd century. It afterwards became the seat of the dukes of Bavaria, and one of the main bulwarks of the East Frankish monarchy; and it was also the focus from which Christianity spread over southern Germany. St Emmeran founded an abbey here in the middle of the 7th century, and St Boniface established the bishopric about a hundred years later. Regensburg acquired the freedom of the empire in the 13th century, and was for a time the most flourishing city in southern Germany. It became the chief seat of the trade with India and the Levant, and the boatmen of Regensburg are frequently heard of as expediting the journeys of the Crusaders. The city was loyally Ghibelline in its sympathies, and was a favourite residence of the emperors. Numerous diets were held here from time to time, and after 1663 it became the regular place of meeting of the German diet. The Reformation found only temporary acceptance at Regensburg, and was met by a counter-reformation inspired by the Jesuits. Before this period the city had almost wholly lost its commercial importance owing to the changes in the great highways of trade. Regensburg had its due share in the Thirty Years' and other wars, and is said to have suffered in all no fewer than seventeen sieges. In 1807 the town and bishopric were assigned to the prince primate Dalberg, and in 1810 they were ceded to Bavaria. After the battle of Eggmühl in 1809 the Austrians retired upon Regensburg, and the pursuing French defeated them again beneath its walls and reduced a great part of the city to ashes.
See Gemeiner, Chronik der Stadt und des Hochstifts Regensburg (4 vols., Regensburg, 1800-24); Chroniken der deutschen Städte, vol. xv. (Leipzig, 1878); Count v. Waldersdorf, Regensburg in seiner Vergangenheit und Gegenwart (4th ed., Regensburg, 1896); Fink, Regensburg in seiner Vorzeit und Gegenwart (6th ed., Regensburg, 1903); and Schratz, Führer durch Regensburg (5th ed., G. Dengler, Regensburg, 1904).