St. Stephan's Cathedral and Old Town - Passau



    Pen and Ink Sketch with Watercolor - Erwin Weber - 1971


Passau reflects a blend of history, art, and scenery. Throughout the ages travelers have enjoyed the beauty of the town. Today, more than a million people visit the city each year. On a finger of land which comes to a point, Old Town of Passau is lapped on either side by the flowing waters of the phlegmatic Danube and the rushing Inn Rivers. The collection of houses so narrowly confined at the Ortsspitze, or narrow point of the city gradually extends westward and bursts out, and spills over into the hilly countryside as far as the edge of the great forest, the Neuburger Wald.

Above this incomparable architecture of houses, places of business, churches, chapels, squares, courtyards and ecclesiastical quarters rises the heart of the town, St. Stephan's Cathedral around which the buildings press closely. They are intersected by steep little alleys which lead down to the rivers Inn and Danube. The buildings are kept apart by flying buttresses, so that the daylight can just reach the ground, and the visitor is confronted by a humid, cellar-like coolness, which is as refreshing in the heat of a summer day, as the gentle haze which the three rivers spread over the town on summer evenings.

The Cathedral surpasses all, however, with its emerald green cupolas which can be seen shining from a great distance, especially the massive central dome built by the Bohemian master, Hans Krumenauer. In 1407, Prince Bishop George, count Hohenlohe laid the foundation stone for the Gothic cathedral which was the last of the Gothic cathedrals of the Holy Roman Empire. It was completed by Urban von Trennbach. The great fire of 1662 spared only St. Stephan's tower, a small Gothic structure with its slender pinnacles and eastward-facing statue of St. Stephan, together with the eastern Choir erected by architects of the Parler School of Prague.

Prince Bishop Wenzeslaus, Count Thun, sent for the Italian builder, Carlo Lurago, for reconstruction of the Cathedral and created the unique synthesis of the baroque crowning of a Gothic heart. And so a masterpiece of Danubian baroque was created; a bold synthesis of Danubian strength and Italian festive mood, together with a great sense of space. Weber made this sketch of the cathedral in 1971.