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Ingolstadt for Historians, Doctors, Car Freaks, Beer Lovers



Ingolstadt is hardly ever on a tourist's schedule (unless they are beer pilgrims, car freaks, or medical people, or specialized historians) but the city has far more to offer than you'll think, and than I had thought prior to coming here.

The chartering of a new Soroptimist club brought me to Ingolstadt. The foundations of new clubs are always festive events, and a reason to visit places one would not have on her radar otherwise. I granted myself an extra overnight in order to have more time for sightseeing, and it was worth it.

Ingolstadt is 1200 years old, it was the residence of the Dukes of Bavaria in the late middle ages, then the seat of a renowned university, the birthplace of the Reinheitsgebot for beer... The city got through World War II remarkably well, the baroque old town is surprisingly well preserved.
For specialists in military architecture, Ingolstadt is a textbook about fortresses, beginning with the New Castle and the medieval town wall, the renaissance ramparts and bulwarks, and finally the 19th century fortress.


The city can easily keep you busy for a long weekend. Museums include the museum mobile at the Audi plant, the German Museum of Medical History, the Bavarian Army Museum in the castle an in the 19th century fortification on the other river bank, the City Museum.

Houses in the old town

Beer: The Birthplace of Reinheitsgebot

Postage stamp

Beer lovers should make a pilgrimage to Ingolstadt: Here is where the famous German Reinheitsgebot originates. The law about the purity of beer states that no other ingredients may be used in the production but hop, barley, and water. This law was first published in 1516 in Ingolstadt for the Duchy of Bavaria. It spread out and was adopted all over the country.

EU regulations forced Germany to abide this law in 1988 and allow foreign beers on the market that contain other ingredients, for example preservatives. However, in Germany the rule is still valid. Most German breweries (except those that produce for export) stick with the Reinheitsgebot for quality and marketing reasons, and advertise loudly that they do. The average German beer consumer is conscious about quality and does not want those crappy 'artificial' beers with ingredients that just don't belong into a beer.


There are beers which are made not from barley but from other types of grain, like wheat (Weizen, Weißbier) and, rarely, rye. These must be classified as such on the label. To these, however, the same rules apply concerning the other two only ingredients, water and hop.

Ingolstadt has four large breweries and a number of microbrewery-pubs in the old town. I did not stay long enough to try them all. Herrnbräu is quite good - cannot tell how it compares to the others.

City Hall



Ingolstadt's city hall was first mentioned in 1321 but is probably even older.

In the run of the centuries it has seen several changes. Its present appearance was shaped in 1883 when the old town hall, the chancellery and the adjacent parsonage of St Moritz were combined and refurbished with neorenaissance facades.

The church of St Moritz with its big steeple, unfortunately behind scaffolding at the moment, is right behind the city hall. City hall and Moritzkirche together form a photogenic view on the northern side of Rathausplatz, they seem to be one single complex of buildings but they aren't.

The slender tower of the city hall used to be a watchtower. The tower is named Pfeifturm („whistle tower“) after the whistle of the watchman who lived up there.

Better ignore the New City Hall on the Western side of the square, an ugly 1960s block.

Maria de Victoria, the „Asam Church“



This baroque jewel was built for the Jesuit college and for a Marian congregation of Ingolstadt citizens attached to the Jesuits in 1732 - 1736. The interior was created by the Brothers Asam. The fresco on the flat ceiling is known as the masterpiece of Cosmas Damian, the painter among the two.

The fresco reflects Jesuit theology and ideas. It represents the worldwide mission. In the four corners we see the four (then known) continents: Asia and Europe above the altar, Africa and America at the opposite end. The central scene shows the Assumption of Mary.

The painting is full of tricky perspectives that cause astonishing effects in the eye of the lookers-on.


In Africa there is a hunter aiming at a lion; when you walk the opposite nave the hunter's arrow keeps pointing at you.

The temple above the choir grows larger when you approach the altar until it covers half the ceiling. When you walk/run towards the exit, watch Michael confronting Lucifer and his angels above the organ - looks as if the bad angels are indeed falling.

And so on, there are several more. A guided tour that shows you these effects is worth joining. A small entrance fee applies and the person at the cash desk will happily guide you. Watching the tricks of the fresco requires quite a lot of walking and running around, as you have to see them from certain angles and then walk a certain way to see the changes - wind blowing into the fire, a tree falling and hitting a stag, etcetera.

The monstrance

However... Well, I had a really funny experience in there, I think this was the funniest guided tour I ever had in a church. The really sweet elderly man from the cash desk struggled hard to point out the peculiarities of the fresco to a group of visitors. That group was from Thailand (all of them medical professionals on the way to a congress in Prague, they stopped in Ingolstadt for the Museum of Medical History and a bit of sightseeing). All the Thais spoke good English but our guide's English was, well, limited. He herded them around and showed them where to look in English but the explanations what to look at came in Bavarian dialect.

Some desperate people in the group asked me if I could translate, and soon I was translating for the whole group, much appreciated by the guide. It was a big laugh for everyone involved. We were running all over the church, to and fro. He started telling us something and after three words I said, wait, I have to explain what that is - the 30 Year War, or whatever. It was hilarious.

A visit to the church also includes the treasure chamber. The church's most treasured object is the large monstrance, considered the most precious of its kind in the world. Created by a goldsmith in Augsburg in 1708, it depicts the Battle of Lepanto (a battle between the fleets of the Christian Holy League and the Ottoman Empire in 1571, which the Christians allegedly won thanks to the help of the Virgin Mary).


This house opposite the Asam Church Maria de Victoria made history in the middle of the 30 Year War.

In 1632 Johann t’Serclaes Count of Tilly, the general of the Emperor's army, died here of tetanus on April 30, 15 days after being wounded in the battle of Rain am Lech. In those times the house belonged to the university professor Arnold Roth.

An inscription on the facade recalls this house's „one moment in time“.

Old Anatomy, Museum of Medical History, and Garden



The medical faculty of the university had a new building for teaching, research, and dissections erected in the 1720s and 1730s. The pretty baroque building looks more like a manor or town palace than a place where corpses were cut into pieces. Nowadays it hosts the German Museum of Medical History (Deutsches Medizinhistorisches Museum).

This is what the Thai doctors had come for.

I have to, embarrassingly, admit that even a visit to a modern physician's or dentist's studio scares everything out of me, and imagining how and with what tools the doctors and dentists of former times treated their patients gives me the creeps. So I decided not to visit the museum and I do not regret my decision. In case your nerves are as weak as mine, you'd rather follow my example.

Anyway, the harmless part is suitable for people with the weakest of nerves: the beautiful apothecary garden behind the anatomy building. Here they grow all kinds of medical herbs and plants that were or still are used in treatments.

Walk past the museum entrance and round the corner of the building.

The garden is free to visit but donations are appreciated. And here is how these donations are collected:

Pecunia Europhaga, the Rarest Medical Plant


The rarest and most unusual plant that flourishes in the apothecary garden behind the Museum of Medical History deserves a special mentioning. I have never seen this species anywhere else, it is really unique. The plant is 'growing' at the entrance to the garden, impossible to overlook.


What does it cure? Hmmm, maybe the doctor's bank account...

Pecunia Europhaga translates to „the Euro-eating money plant“. It is in fact a box to collect donations from visitors to the garden. A funny and clever one, though... When you put a coin into the slot and press the lever to make it fall, the metal flower of the thing opens.

Münster Church

The best spot to catch the enormous building without 'falling lines' is from the courtyard of Canisiuskonvikt.



The mighty gothic church, impossible to overlook in the cityscape, is a relic of those times in the 15th century when Bayern-Ingolstadt was an independent Duchy and Ingolstadt its residential city. Like Neues Schloss, the church was built to express the status and the ambitions of the ruling Duke. The city had just been extended and surrounded with a new wall. A second parish was founded for the new quarters. The Münster was partly built as their parish church, but even more as the church of the ruling dynasty and their burial place. Duke Ludwig der Gebartete (Louis the Bearded) must have been incredibly worried about his worldly sins and his eternal welfare - he donated a foundation for 1000 poor but religious people who had to perform an everlasting prayer service according to a complicated schedule.

The church was begun in 1425. Construction works lasted for almost 100 years. Then the works were stopped, although the steeples remained unfinished. It was named „Kirche zur Schönen Unserer Lieben Frau“, Church of the Beautiful Our Dear Lady - the grammar is a bit strange in here.
The position of the two western steeples is a particularity. They are not parallel to the nave but attached diagonally to the corners, just like the main tower of the New Palace. This seems to be an Ingolstadt particularity. The steeples are too small and too short for the huge nave.

The church is open in the daytime through the doors of the side naves. The enormous gothic hall looks even more impressive inside. Details that should not be missed: the fantastic vaults of the small side chapels along both naves.



The church treasures of the Münster parish are on display in the treasure chamber, which is located inside the southern steeple. Access is from inside the church. Entry is free. There is no one there standing guard, you just open the door and walk in.

This treasure is incomplete, though. The most precious possessions of the church have disappeared in the secularization 200 years ago, when state authorities took the most valuable pieces because of the monetary value of the materials, and silver, gold and jewels went into the treasury of the Electorate, later Kingdom of Bavaria. Paintings show what these pieces looked like.


Kreuztor, Ingolstadt's Landmark



Kreuztor on the western side of the old town is the most beautiful of its medieval gate towers. An inscription dates the gate to the year 1385. It is built from bricks with a few ornaments in white limestone.

The old town gate is completely preserved. It still has the outer gatewhich is connected with the tower by walls on both sides to form a small bailey.
Photographers: The gate tower and the steeples of Münster church behind make an impressive panorama from the outward side. Take care, though, when looking for the best spot to take a photo because this is a very busy intersection of three major streets. The best spot would be in the middle of a road. Beware.

Taschentorturm - Another Gate Tower



South of Kreuztor in direction towards the river a significant part of the town wall with towers is preserved. This wall protected a weak spot in the town's fortification, the point where a small stream entered the town. In later times when the wall had no longer a military value, houses were built against it. The ground outside the wall has since then been used as gardens by the inhabitants of those houses.

Following the wall you'll soon reach another gate tower, painted white and crowned by stepped gables. It might be a bit younger than Kreuztor but not very much. The Taschentor and the adjacent part of the town wall is dated to the end of the 14th century. Taschentor is closed to car traffic, the gateway is for pedestrians and bikes only.

Hohe Schule, the First University Building


In 1472 the Duke of Bavaria founded the first university in his state in Ingolstadt. The so-called Hohe Schule (High School) soon became one of the most renowned universities in the German-speaking area, beside Prague and Vienna. Ingolstadt's Hohe Schule was a centre of humanism, catholic theology and counterreformation. In the 19th century the Bavarian state university moved first to Landshut, then to Munich and became the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität. Nowadays Ingolstadt is again a university town with some faculties of the Catholic University Eichstätt-Ingolstadt.


The building that is still called „Hohe Schule“ is, however, older and was originally meant for a different purpose. It was built in the 1430 as a hospital for 15 prebendaries who were to pray for the founder, Duke Ludwig the Bearded. However, his successors decided differently. The building was given to the newly founded university. Later on separate buildings were erected for the different faculties because the Hohe Schule became too small for them all.

After the university left Ingolstadt the building served as school. Now it hosts again university institutions. Rooms on the ground floor are used by a restaurant. In there, a fresco is preserved with a scene from Greek mythology that referred to the subject of medicine: The famous doctor Asklepios reanimates a young man who had died in an accident with horses and is punished by Zeus for this abuse of his abilities.

Neues Schloss - New Castle and the Military Museum



The castle is named the „new“ because it was new in the 15th century. In 1392 the Duchy of Bavaria was divided among three heirs and Ingolstadt became a ducal residence. The present castle, Herzogskasten, was suitable for occasional stays but too small to accommodate a permanent court. Duke Ludwig der Gebartete („the Bearded“) decided to build a new castle on the southeastern corner of the town close to the river. His sister Isabeau was the Queen of France and Ludwig was well used to court life in more powerful and fashionable countries. So he started an ambitious project for his new home. The castle was only finished two generations later, though.

The front of the main palace with the three towers is an eyecatcher from the other side of the river. The front is not regular. The main tower is attached diagonally to the corner of the building. This seems to be a local fashion - compare the steeples of Münster church.


The main palace and a number of economy buildings surround a wide rectangular court. Access is either from Ludwigstraße, the main pedestrian street of the old town, over the bridge and through the baroque gate tower, or from the river bank up some stairs. The courtyard is free to access during the day but closed at nighttime. The main palace hosts the Bavarian Army Museum.

Bayerisches Armeemuseum (Bavarian Army Museum) consists of two parts. The topics and exhibits from the middle ages to the 19th century are presented in Neues Schloss. An exhibition on World War I can be visited in Reduit Tilly on the opposite river bank, only a short walk away across the pedestrian bridge. The ticket is valid for both. Due to lack of time I only saw the exhibitions in Neues Schloss.

I am not a war buff at all, but from a historian's point of view there is a lot on display which is of interest. So, what were the things I found interesting?

First of all, seeing the interior of the palace - there is no furniture left but there are gothic vaults on the lower, wooden ceilings on the upper floors, frescoes, stonemason door frames and such.

The exhibit about the 30 Years War in the 17th century includes a collection of tiny models of weapons, cannons, carts and acrriages - these were the catalogue of a Nürnberg salesman.

The large collection of embroidered banners.

The Turkish hall with items that were conquered or otherwise acquired during the wars against the Turks in the late 17th century.

A temporary exhibition of photographs, recently taken, of what is left of the World War II fortifications along the coast of Dordogne.

Herzogskasten - The „Duke Box“?!?


„Herzogskasten“ can be translated, tongue-in-cheek, as „Duke Box“. This building is the residential house of the 13th century castle in Ingolstadt. Here the Dukes of Bavaria stayed during their occasional visits to Ingolstadt before the construction of the new castle.

Later on it served as grain storage and as the city's cash office (which explains the name: „Kasten“ is the box the money was put into, and further on a word for the whole administration of said money box and its content). Nowadays it hosts the public library.

The building is a plain rectangular block. Its only ornaments are the stepped gables on both sides. The small oriel on the western side is the choir of the palace chapel.


Houses built along the medieval town wall, with the semi-circular towers behind

19th century fortress on the opposite river bank

Stadtmuseum - History of the City


The historical museum is located in Kavalier Hepp, a gate building of the 19th century fortress. The permanent exhibition presents the history of the city and region from prehistoric times to the present. The 50 small rooms present the historical eras and topics like stone age, ancient Romans, the foundation of the city in the early middle ages, the medieval town walls, the Duchy of Bayern-Ingolstadt, the university, the counter-reformation and the Jesuits, the magistrate and ist representation, coins, baroque art and lifestyle, the age of enlightenment, crafts, trade and traffic, religious life, the development of the city in the 19th and 20th century, industrialization, Nazi time and World War II, post-war development. The toy museum has been integrated into Stadtmuseum and fills two rooms with its exhibition of historical toys. Another department is dedicated to the river Danube and its significance for Europe. Then there are temporary exhibitions about changing topics.

The museum is worth seeing to get a better idea of the city and its history, although the amount of details might be confusing. Probably the most spectacular exhibit is the stuffed white horse that the Swedish King Gustav Adolph rode during the 30 Year War. The poor horse was killed in battle in 1632 not far from here. A bit creepy...

Photography is strictly forbidden, so no pictures of the interior here. I have to note that I found museum staff a bit grumpy.

Audi museum mobile


Old cars have faces!

August Horch and his first model

I admit that I am no car freak. Not at all. Nevertheless I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the museum mobile, especially the part with the pre-war cars. Those big old carriages like the green one look simply gorgeous!


The cars are presented with some background about the times they were built and used in. So they can be viewed with some historical interest. We had a guided tour which was excellent.

The permanent exhibition begins on the top floor with the oldest cars. The second floor shows the development since World War II. The ground floor is used for temporary exhibitions - they had a presentation of car colours at that time, quite fascinating.

The story of Audi begins in Zwickau when the engineer August Horch founded his company in 1904. „Horch“ soon became a renowned brand of luxury cars.

After some troubles Horch was kicked out of his own company and founded another. Since the brand name was already taken, he simply translated his name into Latin: Horch („Listen“) became Audi.

The new museum is part of the Audi Forum in the factory grounds. Seeing the factory requires a different tour, though, which we did not take.


Posted by Kathrin_E 14:20 Archived in Germany Tagged beer bavaria bayern ingolstadt

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Looks interesting. So many lovely places to see in Germany. All the best, Irene

by irenevt

I must admit that my only visits to Ingolstadt have been on business. My most vivid memory is that I had to give a presentation in a room with a high rounded ceiling and dreadful acoustics, so they could hardly hear me and I could hardly hear myself. But otherwise it does look like an interesting city.

by Nemorino

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