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Passau, the Bavarian Venice

Passau: on the left flows the Inn, on the right, the Donau and the Ilz. Picture Bayern Tourismus Marketing GmbH

The three-river-city Passau, at the junction of the rivers Donau, Inn and Ilz (the so-called "Dreiflüsseeck", literally "three-river-corner"), with the narrow and steep streets and historic buildings of its city center, displays a delightful appeal. Numerous coffee shops on the riverside are an invitation to enjoy the atmosphere of what is known as the Venice of Bavaria, a city of 50,000 people dating from before Roman times. With a romantic touch to it, the historic center is shaped by the three rivers it sits in the middle of, and overlooked by the Stephansdom (St Stephen cathedral), which houses Europe's largest pipe organ. Especially in the summer, Passau is a particularly beloved stopover for cruise tourists on their way to Vienna.

Not only with the Bavarian traditions of Maiduld and Herbstduld - smaller versions of Oktoberfest in spring and fall - does Passau shelter a vivid cultural scene: The "European Festival", originally created in 1952 by the occupying American troops, has been taking place every summer for more than 60 years and became a beloved celebration of European cultures and cooperation. Also the yearly awarded "Scharfrichterbeil" is one of Germany's most important cabaret awards.

The city's location at the encounter of three rivers nevertheless holds danger. The enormous water volumes of the Donau, the Inn and the Ilz together regularly flood the entire city center, putting its residents at risk. In June 2013, the highest flood ever experienced had the water level rise to 12m80 (41 ft 5 in), breaking the previous record from 1501.

More: www.passau.de