After lunch we went right out again for another tour to see the Danube Narrows. For this optional (translation: extra cost) excursion out of Regensburg, we were promised a trip to the Weltenburg Abbey, where we would see the abbey church and partake of their beer and pretzels in the nearby town of Kelheim. In between, we’d take a pleasure boat tour of the Danube narrows, a stretch of the river that is shallow, narrow, and fast. And twisty, as it turns out.
The Abbey is located in a very beautiful setting on the river, at a point where the Danube takes a dramatic turn.
A large cobblestone square surrounded by the abbey buildings would probably have been very pleasant if it were not raining AGAIN.
Weltenburg was our third abbey on this trip, and by now we knew the ingredients:
- a small community of monks that do their studies,
- some way to generate income, and
- a fancy church.
The church in this abbey, in my opinion of course, was not only Baroque Excess, it was misdirected. Up front, in the altar area, where they usually have Christ, or Saint Mary, this church had Saint George killing a dragon! The reptile was especially ferocious in this depiction, mouth open, flames ready to shoot forth, and a beautiful woman was standing behind the hero, presumably quivering in terror.
Apparently St George – a mythical character, I believe – is the patron saint of this abbey, so he gets top billing in the church.
Saint George was positioned so that a perpetual light (from hidden windows in the ceiling) was beaming on him, and the dragon was placed in constant shadow. It is the most dramatic altarpiece I’ve ever seen.
But where was Jesus? Nowhere that I could see. Lots of other statues, various saints and benefactors, as is common in this type of church, but our Savior was not to be found. We left the church and went over to the cafe and had a coffee.
Later, Joyce and Karen found steps that led to a walk featuring the stations of the cross – so apparently Jesus hasn’t completely been forgotten at this abbey.
This stunning gold relief – definitely worth your click! – tells a dramatic story. I wish I knew what it is…
Are you wondering about those bulbous shapes that look like a Sta-Puft pastry roll explosion? They’re supposed to be clouds.
These are the steps to the Way of the Cross. Just like the real thing, they’re not for the faint of heart.
After visiting three abbeys and seeing how they operate, I was reminded of this saying from Jesus, quoted in the gospel of Matthew: “You cannot serve both God and money.” All three (Melk, Krems, and Weltenburg) are so focused on generating income that their spiritual work appears (to this tourist) to be far from central to their purpose.
An overlook view of part of the Narrows.
At this point the Danube has vertical cliffs on one or both sides, making for dramatic scenery as we walked down to catch our pleasure boat ride.
This was our first view of the cruise ship – a great way to tour the Narrows.
The abbey is situated right on the Danube at a sharp bend known as the “Danube Narrows.” The cliffs rise high on both sides of the river, and it is not navigable by our Viking cruise ship. But it’s a beautiful stretch, and there is an excursion boat that takes tourists up and down this part of the river. We sat high on the second deck, enjoying ice cream treats with our view.
The ship returned us to our bus and we were taken to Kelheim to visit an indoor beer garden and have a taste of the beer from the abbey. I don’t drink beer, but I figured I could see the place, enjoy a pretzel, and sit with friends. Karen and Joyce went off shopping.
The main street of Kelheim
This indoor beer garden served beer and pretzels to our group. No reviews on the beer, sorry.
The town gate of Kelheim
We saw this just as we were entering Kelheim. I cannot explain it.
Another strange piece of Kelheim art. This one appears to be a memorial of some sort.
Meanwhile, the ship made a turn into the canal that runs between Regensburg and Nuremberg. After collecting us from the visit to Kelheim, the bus took us up the canal to meet the bus, and our excursion was complete.