At the junction of the rivers Donau, Inn and Ilz (the so-called Dreiflüsse-Eck, literally “three-rivers-corner”), Passau, with its narrow and steep streets and the historic buildings of its city center, displays a peculiar and delightful appeal.
In the summer, Passau is a beloved stopover for cruise tourists on their way to Vienna. Numerous coffee shops on the riverside invite to enjoy the atmosphere of what is known as the Venice of Bavaria, a city of 50,000 people already existing before Roman times. The romantic historic center is shaped by the three rivers, and overlooked by the Stephansdom (St Stephen cathedral), which houses Europe’s largest pipe organ.
Not only with the Bavarian traditions of Maidult and Herbstdult – smaller versions of Oktoberfest in spring and fall – Passau shelters a vivid cultural scene: The European Festival, originally created in 1952 by the occupying American troops, has been taking place every summer for more than 60 years and became a beloved celebration of European cultures and cooperation.
The city’s idyllic location at the encounter of 3 rivers nevertheless holds danger. The enormous water volumes of the Donau, the Inn and the Ilz regularly flood the entire city center, putting its residents at risk. In June 2013, the highest flood ever experienced made the water level rise to 12m80 (41 ft 5 in), breaking the previous record from 1501.