City Hall Tower and Old Town - Passau



    Pen and Ink Sketch with Watercolor - Erwin Weber - 1983


The Rathaus or City Hall of Passau is located on the banks of the Danube River. It was built on the site of the former fish market in 1393 by the townspeople, to rule the city together with the prince bishops after centuries of oppression by the ecclesiastical rulers of the city. The current city hall has been renovated throughout the ages. In 1410, the city hall had a Gothic facade. The neo-Gothic tower was built by Heinrich Freiherr von Schmidt in 1889-1892. Weber made this sketch of the Rathaus in 1983.

The inner courts and the baroque furnished Grosse Rathaussaal or large assembly room were constructed in 1662. The stained-glass windows of the magnificent assembly room depict scenes from the history of Passau. Its walls are decorated with gigantic paintings by the local artist, Ferdinand Wagner, showing Kriemhilde's entry into Passau from the medieval epic the Nibelungenlied.

Circa 1205, a poet residing at the court of the bishop of Passau compiled the Niebellungenlied from existing legends in the style of his time. It resembles the old Norse Edda poems and deals with some of the same characters such as Siegfried, who slew the dragon, acquired the treasure of the Nibelung, married Kriemhilde, and was murdered by Hagen which was arranged out of jealousy by Brunhilde, the wife of Gunther, the king of Burgundy. After the death of Siegfried, his wife Kriemhilde took revenge. She became the second wife of Attila the Hun. After their wedding in Worms, Kriemhilde made a triumphal entry into the city of Passau. She then continued along the Danube River to Vienna where the entire Burgundy tribe was killed Thereafter, Kriemhilde committed suicide.

The masterpiece of Richard Wagner (1813-1883) a German composer of operas is the tetralogy The Ring of the Nibelugen consisting of the operas Das Rheingold (1854), Die Walküre (1856), Siegfried (1871), and Die Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods, 1874).