Niederhaus Castle - Passau

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    Pen and Ink Sketch with Watercolor - Erwin Weber - 1983

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Niederhaus Castle, which is connected to Oberhaus Castle, is situated at the confluence of the Ilz and Danube Rivers, a small strip of land pointing southward to the foothills of the Austrian Alps. The Late-Gothic castle was documented for the first time in 1359 and has maintained its characteristic to the present day. The picturesque structure with its interesting interior is now in the hands of private ownership. Half of the isolated main tower of the Niederburg was removed in 1809. Weber made this sketch of the castle in 1983.

The Luitpold Suspension Bridge connects Old Town Passau with Niederhaus Castle. Behind the castle is St. Salvador Church. The tower-less former pilgrimage church of atonement was constructed in Late-Gothic style between 1479 and 1495. Due to an alleged heinous crime committed by a Jew, the church was built instead of a synagogue by Benedict Ried, an architect from Prague. It has an extraordinary acoustic characteristic. For the last few years, the church has been used by the City of Passau as a concert hall during the summer months.

From Ilzstadt, a former fisherman's village across the river from the Niederhaus Castle, the chocolate colored Ilz River winds its way through the Bavarian Forest to is origin in the Bohemian Forest which is currently in the Czech Republic. It winds its way through marshy bogs which gives the river its brownish appearance, cuts through primeval forests equipped with Romantic bicycle and hiking paths, and passes ancient castles and villages.

One such castle is located three miles from Passau in the ancient village of Hals ( in English "Neck") where the river makes a loop that resembles a person's head and neck. The former castle of the Dukes of Hals, now a ruin, overlooks the village of Hals which received its city charter in the 15th century. In the Middle Ages, the Dukes of Hals possessed one of the most powerful earldoms in Lower Bavaria. During the turn of the 20th century, Hals was known as "Modebad á la Kneipp" i.e., fashionable swimming and sunbathing with a place to drink. Franz Lehar lived in Hals and composed his first operetta "Vienna Ladies" (Wiener Frauen).