Landshut: the forgotten capital

Landshut (pronounced lands-hoot) is not a normal tourist destination. However, it is always on the top of my list of places to bring friends and family while visiting the area. I’m a tour guide of Munich, Neuschwanstein, and Salzburg. When people visit me I make a serious effort to show them the best that southern Germany has to offer, which includes Landshut. I even included it in my top 5 best day trips from Munich. The reason I do not recommend it to the average tourist is that the difficulty level is much higher than some of the near by tourist traps and major cities. The reason that the difficulty level is higher is that although there is a lot to see, it is not a major city and has yet to be discovered by the hordes of tourist backpackers. Even in late July, you might be the only English speaking tourists in town.

So what does Landshut have that is so impressive? To start with, it is an easy day trip from Munich as it is only about 70 km (43miles) to the North East of Munich which by car or train should be approximately 45 minutes. Once in town, two of the main sights are quite obvious.

The first major sight you will probably see is the castle up on the hill overlooking the city itself. This castle (Burg Trausnitz) is a real medieval castle built in 1204 and used by the royal family of Bavaria, the Wittelsbachs, until 1503. Although parts of the castle have been partially ruined by fire over the years, the castle is one of the most impressive, inside and out, of the entire region. There is a museum section which displays oddities that the dukes of Bavaria collected during the time period they lived in the castle (like a unicorn horn for example) and then the main sections of the castle are only available to see with a guided tour.

The second major sight you see while entering town is St. Martin’s church (dating from 1380-1500), which has the tallest brick church steeple in the world. However, they do not allow visitors up the 428 foot tower, so that is slightly disappointing until you see the inside of the church. This is a gothic basilica minor with several late gothic wood and stone carvings. The most striking image seen in the St. Martin’s church, however, is a stained glass window with an image of Adolf Hitler as part of a scene showing the martyrdom of St. Kastulus.

The third most impressive sight of Landshut is the Stadtresidenz (city residence), which is the oldest Italian renaissance style palace north of the Alps and dates from 1536-1543. The baroque façade was added in the 19th century and fits in with the rest of Landshut’s architecture. When I visited the palace in late July, at the height of the tourist season, we were treated to a personal tour. The only problem is they do not normally do tours in English, but I still feel it’s worth seeing even if you don’t understand much of what the guide is saying.

The city of Landshut is an easy get away destination from Munich with lots to see and yet is a peaceful city with cobblestone streets and beautiful baroque architecture in its historic altstadt (old town). I highly recommend it for your next trip in the area so you see more than the average tourist.

-Mike Richardson, the professional tourist

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Comments (2)

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  1. Sharon says:

    Welcome Mike! Enjoyed the Landshut article – very interesting!

  2. Keir says:

    Thanks for the review; I just took my parents there today and think you did justice to the town. I’m especially grateful to you for identifying the saint on the stained glass. Nearby is Dreifaltigkeitsplatz which, during the Nazi era, had been renamed Adolf-Hitler-Platz. Himmler had lived on that square and went to school nearby.

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