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Author: Karin Vogt
Discover Abensberg - Dive in and experience Abensberg’s history
Dollingerstraße 18, 93326 Abensberg, DE
The historical charm of Abensberg’s medieval city center is shaped by magnificent houses built by wealthy citizens, the Gothic city hall with its Baroque roof turrets, a fairytale tower, the Maderturm (Mader Tower), and the imposing Herzogskasten. Visit the town square and enjoy the beautiful, colorful façades and gables of the surrounding buildings. A stroll through the nearby narrow alleyways invites you to discover for yourself some of the town’s ancient secret corners.
The town museum, the Herzogskasten, brings history alive and highlights local culture with varying special exhibitions of exceptional quality.
The Kuchlbauer Tower is the town’s new landmark. Visible already from afar, it attracts visitors with its artistic design inspired by Friedensreich Hundertwasser. The tower is located next to the Kuchlbauer Brewery and the KunstHaus Abensberg, a museum with a selection of Hundertwasser’s artwork and novelties from his extraordinary life on permanent display.
Even before the turn of the first millennium, the legendary Count Babo erected what was the beginning of the city of Abensberg: a massive medieval fortress on a hill on the banks of the Abens River. With his two wives Irmingard and Gertrude, Earl Babo fathered a total of 32 sons and eight daughters. With so many heirs, he believed that the future line of the Babone Dynasty was secure. The town’s name was first mentioned in the year 1031 in reference to one Eberhardus de Abensperche. In approximately the year 1256 AD, written records show that more and more people were settling down around the Castrum Abensperch, the fortress in Abensberg.
Dollingerstraße 18, 93326 Abensberg, DE
The granary, called the Troadstadel (grain storage) by the locals, is a massive 6-story-high building dating back to the 1400s. It was constructed by Johann III, Lord of Abensberg in circa 1450. Its original function was to store grain grown on the lands of the local counts. Throughout the years, it has been used as a warehouse, a prison, a hop-drying kiln and finally as a furniture store before being completely restored and opened as a museum in 2006. Inside, exposed wooden beams and bricks dating back to circa 1480 have been kept in-tact. The entry portal is a pointed Gothic arch that also dates back to this time. The museum’s exhibitions encompass elements of world history, which have also been reflected in Abensberg’s history from stone aged tools made of flint, to guilds and handicrafts, and up to traditional festivities such as Gillamoos, a 700-year-old beer festival that takes place every September. The name of the museum is reminiscent of a period in history when the Wittelsbach Dynasty reigned in Abensberg.
Aventinusplatz (Aventinus Square)
Aventinusplatz 3, 93326 Abensberg, DE
The town square to the north of the castle was formerly called Paradeplatz (Parade Square). The
Oberhaus (upper house) or Freihaus (free house) immediately catches your eye. It was originally part of the fort complex. For a long time, the building served as a winter residence for the owners of the Wasserschloss (Water Castle), which still stands in Offenstetten. Around 1900, Abensberg’s first restaurant was located here in the style of Munich beer halls. The center of the square is dominated by a monument dedicated to Aventinus. The sculptor Max Puille from Landshut created it in 1861 upon the request of Franz Xaver Osterrieders. Max Puille was a student of Ludwig von Schwanthaler, an artist from Munich who is considered to be the leading master of classical sculpture in southern Germany.
Aventinus – “The Abensberger”
Johannes Turmair, also known as Aventinus, was born in the year 1477 as the son of an innkeeper on the city square. He forged an amazing career and is considered to be one of the most influential humanists of the 1400s. He established Bavarian historiography and was a founding father of classical philology in Germany. His main work, the “Bavarian Chronicle”, was first written in Latin in the early 1500s and later printed in German. Aventinus died in Regensburg in 1534.
Schlossgarten & Burg (Castle garden)
Aventinusplatz, 93326 Abensberg, DE
Castrum Abensperch (Abensberg Castle), first mentioned in written sources dating back to 1256 and constructed by Count Babo, was the residence of stately castle lords. From here, knights ruled over a realm that reached far beyond today's city borders. In 1485, after the murder of Count Niklas, the last Babonen Count of Abensberg, Duke Albrecht IV from Bayern Munich illegally seized and occupied the Abensberg realm. He turned the castle into a magistrate’s court, endowing the realm with sovereign power. The 30 Years’ War virtually destroyed the original fortress down to the foundation walls, and it fell into ruin. The outer castle was a district court until 1984 and since then, the Office of Digitization and Surveying has been located there. The deep moat, which is visible from Aventinusplatz (Aventinus Square), still shows the original defensive character of the structure to some extent. You can visit the castle garden on weekdays until 4 pm by going through the courtyard of the Surveying Office and over the drawbridge. It is also accessible from April through October via Max-Bronold-Strasse (Max-Bronold Street). The main fort was once located there. The old castle walls surround the complex and give the location its unmistakable historical charm. The castle garden is located where the former great hall once was. It served as the location for countless festivals and events in the past, as it still does today.
Counts once celebrated lavish festivals here with their entourage. Sometimes they offered marauding knights refuge and caroused with them in the great hall. In 1648, the Swedish destroyed the castle fortress, leaving behind rubble and ashes. Over the centuries, it fell into further ruin. What remains of the ruins provide a one-of-a-kind backdrop, which is now a location available for events.
Stadtpfarrkirche St. Barbara (Parish Church of Saint Barbara)
Theoderichstraße 2, 93326 Abensberg, DE
Abensberg had been its own parish since 1380, however, without a parish church. The reason for this was the Liebfraukirche (Church of Our Dear Lady), a Romanesque style chapel that served as a parish church and was located outside the city walls in Aunkofen. A stone on the front wall of Saint Barbara’s south aisle carved with the date 1448 provides evidence that building of Saint Barbara’s Church, a late Gothic structure, began before the mid-1400s. Ludwig, a master mason from the city of Pfeffenhausen, completed the building in 1516. A lightning bolt struck the church tower in 1731 and destroyed it. Only the foundation walls remained. By the year 1762, the master builder Christoph Wolf from the city of Stadtamhof, rebuilt and extended the church tower using bricks from the neighboring castle ruins. The north facing tower of the hall church shapes the cityscape to this day. The original Gothic floors of the structure are square and unadorned. The upper floor is Baroque in style with rounded corners and double pilaster architecture. The pinnacle of the distinct square tower is flat and crowned with a graciously curved elongated turret, which has a delicate cross placed directly on the top. Both portals are constructed of Jurassic limestone. A frieze designed using tracery adorns the sacred building over the west portal between its gable and pinnacle. The figures of saints on the original corbel are more recent.
Regensburger Tor (Regensburg Gate)
Weinbergerstraße 16, 93326 Abensberg, DE
In 1348, the status of Abensberg was raised to that of a city by the House of Wittelsbach, when Count Ulrich III immediately fortified it. In honor of Count Babo’s abundance of children, a defensive wall with 32 round towers and eight corner towers was built to surround the city. The city wall is still partly intact and accessible in some places, for example, along the street Am Stadtgraben, where the Kunstweg (Artist’s Path) is located. Originally, three gates allowed access to the city. The Aunkofener Tor (Aunkofen Gate) allowed access from the west of the city. The magistrate had it demolished in 1879. Running along both sides of the Aunkofen Gate was the city moat, which was filled in using rubble from a fire that destroyed the Kuchlbauer Brewery and inn on the city center. The south city gate, the Abenstor (Abens Gate), was destroyed in the late 1800s due to modernization. The Regensburger Tor (Regensburg Gate) has been kept intact and still stands to the east of the city.
Stadtplatz (City center)
Stadtplatz 1, 93326 Abensberg, DE
The Stadtplatz (City Center) has always been the gathering point for Abensberg. The imposing houses on the main market square tell a story of wealth and the pride of the citizens that owned them. The Stadtplatz is the heart of Abensberg, from which the streets lead you to the three city gates and the ancient castle fortress. As you follow the façades of the houses clockwise, they invite you to study the fragmented history of Abensberg’s past.
Rathaus (City hall)
In the year 1771, the Armesünderglöcklein (poor sinner’s bell), located in the roof turret of the historic city hall, rang to announce the last execution that took place in Abensberg. The stately construction still shapes the ensemble of the Stadtplatz. The curved gable with its late Baroque style roof turret sets the city hall apart. However, the portal and the mainly double grooved window jambs point to the fact that the original structure was erected in the late Gothic period. Since 1348, the seat of the magistrate that the citizens of Abensberg have voted into power has been there. Towards the end of the 1900s, requirements for modern facilities had grown rapidly and it was clear that the city hall was no longer up-to-date. Major renovations followed. The historically protected main house had its roof structure replaced. The auxiliary building also underwent major renovations including the addition of a glass bridge that was built to connect it with the main city hall. The renovations were completed towards the end of 2020.
The Holzapfel building is located to right of the city hall. Generations of wealthy shopkeepers and merchants resided there. In the 1900s, it was the original location of the fashion clothing store Holzapfel, which now specializes in women’s clothing and is located outside the old city walls in a large commercial building.
Across Babostraße (Babo Street) and a set back a bit is the Heyderhaus with its distinctive volute gable. Alois Heyder once owned it. He served as a chief officer during the Napoleonic Wars, when in 1809 during the Battle of Abensberg, he played a decisive role in its victory. King Maximilian I therefore declared: “Henceforth, Abensberg’s coat of arms may depict two swords that cross over each other.”
The gingerbread man once baked gingerbread there. Mead also simmered on its stove and candles were made out of beeswax. In past times, votive offerings made of wax proved to be very lucrative, as the annual Christian calendar of festivities practically ensured year-round business. After the end of compulsory guilds in the 1800s, the gingerbread man dynasty, the Kneitingers, stayed true to the business of sweets. As of 1922, the Kneitinger family ran a pastry and retail shop as well as the city center’s first café. Today, the building serves as the original location and headquarters of the Hotel Kneitinger.
Brothaus (House of Bread)
By order of the magistrate, the Brothüter (Keeper of Bread) sold all goods from the city’s bakers in the Brothaus (House of Bread). This display of bread allowed the customers to directly compare and select the most delicious looking and the largest baked goods. At that time, the city dictated not only how much baked goods could weigh, but also the price the bakers were allowed to charge.
The butcher ran a cookshop and was granted the right to serve beer and wine in the Rusch house. He also prepared fish sausage on holy days. Centuries ago, the craftsmen already bought smoked meats for their Brotzeit (meal consisting of bread and cold cuts) or other culinary delicacies directly from the butcher’s cookshop. The Rusch house is the smallest and most modest house in the city center.
In 1477, Aventinus, born Johann Turmaier, was born in this innkeeper’s house. In circa 1300, the local count gave the innkeeper the right to serve wine and food daily to the townspeople. The Sulzberg family built a brewery in the house in the 1800s. In 1877, the house’s proud owner revealed a memorial plaque in celebration of Aventinus’ 400th birthday. Since then, it has been called the Hofbräuhaus and was the original location of the Hofbräu Brewery in Abensberg until the 1970s, when the brewery moved to Stadionstraße (Stadion Street).
Whole dynasties of merchants worked in the Silberkramer (silver merchant’s) house. In the 1800s, the merchant Joseph Dantscher planted asparagus in the garden behind the house, packed it into boxes and delivered it to hotels in Regensburg. The name of the adjacent alleyway, Lusteckstraße (Lusteck Street), comes from a merchant who owned the Silverkramer house in the past. A local stone mason, Gallus Weber, renovated the merchant’s house in the Gothic style of architecture in the 1700s. In addition to the polygonal bay window on the corner of the building, the Gothic architecture is prominently displayed by its stepped gable and false front design. Out of fear that the Prussians would attack and occupy Abensberg, the influential merchant Lusteck, had the figure of a ladybug placed on the façade of the building for good luck – and Abensberg remained protected.
The Weinberger Haus was a guesthouse called Zum guldenen Stern (To the Golden Star) and was a wine bar for centuries, serving regional wines that came from vineyards in Irnsing, Weltenburg and Staubing. For this reason, the house displays the Bavarian coat of arms on its façade to this day. It is the birthplace of the Archbishop of Würzburg, Stephan Weiberger (1624 – 1703). Towards the end of the 1700s, new owners converted the wine bar into a brewery, which existed until 1902. Afterward, the neighboring banker Nicolaus Stark opened the headquarters of the Starkbank, the first and only original bank of Abensberg. The state-owned building was erected in the style of late Gothic architecture and is embellished with three refurbished neo-Gothic bay windows on corbels. The owners had the gable modified in the Baroque period.
Next to the Weinberger Haus is the Stark Haus with its simple but impressive stepped gable and centered tondo. The building served as home to generations of merchants, and is named after the merchant and mayor, Nicolaus Stark, who purchased the building in 1861. His company was known for its expensive fabrics, exotic spices and colonial goods. In the 1800s, his bank was considered one of the best commercial securities businesses in the Bavarian province. That is why, in 1904 under the management of his son, the agency was transferred to the Bavarian Central Bank and thus became a commercial bank.
The original founders of today’s Kuchlbauer Brewery were granted one of the oldest brewing rights in the world by the Count of Abensberg in circa 1300. In 1751, Josef Amann, who was a Kuchlpauer (an old Bavarian word for grocer) by trade, acquired the property, including the rights to brew brown beer and wheat beer – hence the company name of Zum Kuchlbauer (To Kuchlbauer). In 1904, Michael Salleck acquired the brewery and in that same year, the building was destroyed by a fire. The brewery was rebuilt based on the historic archetype. Only the cast iron window grilles from the original building were largely left intact.
The Salleck family has been in the beer brewing business for eight generations now. In 1918, Michael Salleck built a new brewing facility just outside of the old city walls on Römerstraße (Römer Street) and specialized in brewing pale and dark wheat beers. The original building in the city center houses the Kuchlbauer Restaurant and Hotel.
Zollhäusl (Toll House)
Babostraße 21, 93326 Abensberg, DE
The Zollhäusl (Toll House) is located in the south of the city and serves as a reminder that in former times, anyone who wanted to enter or go through the city had to pay a toll. Revenue from these early tolls consistently increased the city government’s wealth. Starting in 1822, the magistrate also financed city streetlights with toll money. The Toll House displays the coat of arms that was once on the Abenstor (Abens Gate) before it was demolished.
Maderturm (Mader Tower)
Baderstraße 10, 93326 Abensberg, DE
The Maderturm (Mader Tower) with its adjoining structures and garden courtyard is like the scene of a Grimm brothers’ fairytale. Maybe it is hiding a dark secret. Did the legendary Count Babo really vanquish his wanton daughter by encasing her in the wall? The tower’s name today goes back to the term Marterturm (Torture Tower). Who encased whom in the tower walls is still unclear. It is known however, that Count Babo was definitively no longer alive when Ulrich III built the city wall and its towers. It is the largest intact round tower of the city fortifications and along with the neighboring bathhouse, originally belonged to the Carmelite Monastery. It has been privately owned for centuries now. A visit to the historical landmark to look over the whimsical garden fence at the picturesque unspoiled courtyard is certainly worth your while.
Von-Hazzi-Straße 30, 93326 Abensberg, DE
Josef Ritter von Hazzi was born in a house on Schafgasse (Sheep’s Alley) on the 12th of February, 1768 to the master mason Adam Hazzi. The street is now known as Von-Hazzi-Straße (Von-Hazzi Street). The little house on the city wall is proof of his humble beginnings. Nevertheless, as of 1786 he studied law and physics at the University of Ingolstadt. He became one of the most important Lumières of Bavaria. He had reservations towards ecclesiastical institutions until he hostilely opposed them and joined the civil service in 1792. He then traveled all over Bavaria under official contract for years thereafter. He acquired expert knowledge of the Bavarian landscape and in 1796 was given a seat on the city council that governed the Lords of the land. As of 1799 Josef Ritter von Hazzi became an Elector of the Executive Committee of Land and thus, a member of the highest electoral government body. It took until 1816 for the King of Bavaria to confirm Hazzi’s royal title of “Elector of Abensberg“. He is considered the founding father of Bavarian statistics as well as the most important reformer of Bavarian agriculture and forestry. He died in 1845.
Osterriedergasse 6, 93326 Abensberg, DE
The Carmelites’ presence in the former Carmelite Monastery lasted for over 400 years and made great contributions in cultural and educational sectors. They had to leave the premises permanently in 1802 when they relocated to the city of Straubing. Similar to many others, the Carmelite Monastery was secularized. The barber surgeon Anton Wittman established a field hospital on the premises during the Napoleonic Wars. Starting in 1812, the former monastery served as a city hospital. It is the largest historically protected complex in the old city center. The city of Abensberg completed renovations on the building by the year 2017. The Abensberg Adult Education Center, The Technical Center of Eastern Bavaria in addition to a multitude of art and cultural events are now located in Aventinum. The adjoining building to the west belonged to the old Carmelite Monastery, which is now The Office for Food, Agriculture and Forestry. It was here that Abensberg’s first printing house, Senn Printing, later known as Kral Printing, printed Abensberg’s weekly newspaper starting in 1851. The monastery bakery was next door where the baker’s son, Sebastian Osterrieder was born. He later became a master nativity scene builder.
Sebastian Osterrieder (1864 – 1932)
Sebastian Osterrieder was supposed to take over his father’s bakery, but his true talent was in figurative design and sculpture. After the death of his father, he formally studied at the Royal Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts. In his workshop, Osterrieder created Baroque-style nativity scenes that were unparalleled. Some of his clients included Pope Pius X, Prince Regent Luitpold and the Emperor of Germany Wilhelm II.
Klosterkirche (Monastery Church)
Karmelitenplatz 1, 93326 Abensberg, DE
In 1389, Count Johannes II and his wife Agnes von Liechtenstein donated the Carmelite Monastery to the still young parish of Abensberg. The start of the monastery was blessed by issue of decree in 1390 by Pope Bonifatiuis IX. The church is dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The originally Gothic style mendicant church was refurbished in Baroque style in the beginning of the 1700s. The central nave was given a vaulted ceiling and the portals and windows were adapted accordingly. They moved the main alter to the middle of the chancel with the sacristy placed behind it. The monastery crypt has been located underneath ever since. To the south of the church is the four-winged cloister, which is only accessible to the public through booking an official city tour.
Schulhausplatz 4, 93326 Abensberg, DE
The KunstHaus Abensberg was designed by the architect Peter Pelican, who, as a lifelong friend and colleague, worked closely together with Friedensreich Hundertwasser on many architectural projects. The KunstHaus, with its leaning tower, is a notable attraction in Abensberg and has contributed to the city becoming a center for art and beer. The museum displays many of Hundertwasser’s original works as well as artifacts from his life. Hundertwasser’s typical designs were extremely people friendly and in harmony with nature, including elements such as rounded forms, whimsical windows, uneven floors and organic lines, towers with onion domes and trees that live in the indoor spaces. These elements make the Kuchlbauer Tower and the KunstHaus Abensberg one-of-a-kind worldwide.
The Kuchlbauer Tower
Römerstraße 7, 93326 Abensberg, DE
The Kuchlbauer Tower is reminiscent of a story out of “Arabian Nights” with its vibrant colors, rounded forms and four golden cupolas. The Senior Chief Officer of Kuchlbauer Leonhard Salleck, has an enormous affinity for art and philosophy. For years, he immersed himself in both subjects. He met the artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser in the 1990s. The two men discovered that they had a lot in common and got on well. A while after their meeting, Salleck received a hand drawn sketch of a tower with golden cupolas from Hundertwasser – a tower that both men believed could be a perfect home for Salleck’s fairytale wheat beer dwarves. It took 15 years for the tower to become a reality. During this time, the city council debated how high the tower could be. Regionally, it is well known that no building may be built higher than the church tower. Saint Barbara’s church tower in Abensberg is 35-meters high, exactly the height the city council approved for the construction of Leonhard Salleck’s project. The architect Peter Pelican, Hundertwasser’s life-long friend and colleague, brought the magnificent building to fruition in accordance with revised plans of Hundertwasser’s original sketch. Since 2010, The Kuchlbauer Tower and Kuchlbauer’s World of Beer have united art and beer in a very unique way.
Kunstweg (Artist’s Path)
Am Stadtgraben 12, 93326 Abensberg, DE
The charming Kunstweg (Artist’s Path) runs along the northern part of the old city wall and combines modern art with historical substance. It is accessible alongside the street named Am Stadtgraben. Regional artists display their work here, including numerous photographs taken during the KunstNachtMarkt (Art Night Market). The KunstNachtMarkt always takes place in June and runs along the street Am Stadtgraben. On the evening of the market, you can discover Am Stadtgraben in a whole new light. In addition to viewing the permanent displays, you can see artists and crafts people alike actively working on their creations.