Regions & Maps
The Route of Emperors and Kings extends along the Danube from mediaeval Regensburg, through Passau, Linz, Vienna and Bratislava, to the metropolis of Budapest, linking urban cultural centres, historic treasures and world-class landscapes. This is where the history of Central Europe was written, and this history remains very much a part of life today. From Roman times onwards, kings and queens travelled on and along the Danube with their royal entourages. Over the centuries, this age-old route therefore came to be known as the ‘Route of Emperors and Kings’ – and it has lost none of its appeal to this day.
Highlights of the region
As part of the INTERREG EU project “Transdanube Travel Stories”, a new thematic itinerary entitled “Europe on the Danube” has been created. It is one of six interconnected new narratives, with each route travelling a specific section of the Danube. “Europe on the Danube” focuses on the middle course of the river, with sites steeped in history, surprising connections and exciting attractions in eastern Austria, Slovakia, Hungary and northern Croatia, as well as glimpses of the European Capitals of Culture Novi Sad in Serbia and Timişoara in Romania.
In Vienna, they were once called “Krippenmarkt”, “Budenmarkt” or “Thomasmarkt” on the Graben around 1600. There were mainly sweet baked goods for sale, but of course there was still no talk of terms like “Christmas market” or even “Christkindlmarkt”. It was probably not until the middle of the 18th century that a “St. Nicholas, Christmas and Nativity Market” was set up on the Freyung for the first time – but this one had over 100 stalls.
On July 30, 2021 the time had come: The Roman Limes along the Danube in Bavaria, Austria and Slovakia received the long-awaited and longed-for seal of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At UNESCO this is officially called: “Transnational site Danube Limes inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List”. The Limes as a former border of the Roman Empire stretched from northern England across Europe and the Middle East to North Africa.
In spring 500 years ago – in 1521 – the Imperial Diet of Worms took place: Emperor Charles V had convened it, a gigantic “event” one would say today, during which the city was actually in high spirits. Both the approximately 10,000 guests and the locals partied day and night during the event, ignoring the fasting period and most of the otherwise well-liked “good customs”.
The so-called “Pasetti Map” as a reproduction is enthroned among books, stucco and marble, thus emphasising in picturesque surroundings its importance of once: on a length of 44 metres, the reproduction of the navigation map from the Danube monarchy shows us what the Danube once was – when it was not yet regulated.
Staying at the vintner’s, sitting in the guest garden near the Danube, taking a tour with the winegrower through his vineyards or simply stopping at the Heuriger, drinking a glass of Wachau DAC and eting a few sandwiches with spreads: The Wachau is simply a picturesque and enjoyable feel-good region – especially in the warm months.
When the Bavarian princess Elisabeth from the Wittelsbach family boarded the Danube ship “Stadt Regensburg” in Straubing on 21 August 1854, it was not to start a pleasure cruise. No, the 16-year-old was on a bridal trip, or rather, she was on her way to the “wedding of the century” in Vienna.
The “Passauer Tölpel”, a landmark that can also be enjoyed as a delicious gingerbread cake, tells his story: “I fell from Passau Cathedral and broke my beautiful body. I’m still alive and kicking, just a little weak in the head.” The stone head from Passau must have once fallen from a cathedral, so it’s no wonder he’s still a bit confused and considered a dolt.
‘The Danube – Route of Emperors and Kings’ is an international working group which includes ten tourism organisations and river cruise lines. These members work to promote their common European heritage and let visitors today travel in the footsteps of Marcus Aurelius, Frederick I, the Habsburgs and many others.