Monday, December 14, 2015

History and Ecology in Regensburg: a Town Linked to the Past

Posted by Richard B. Primack

In November, as part of my Humboldt Fellowship, I visited Peter Poschold’s research group in Regensburg, a town north of Munich in Bavaria. Peter’s group studies changing land use patterns and the distribution of plant species. 

The view from the top of a castle hill shows the intensive use of the region over thousands of years, from before Roman times and on to the present. Note the medieval bridge over the Naab River.

This region of Bavaria is also noteworthy for hundreds of fish ponds established 900 years ago by the Catholic Church and still in operation. Peter’s group studies the seed ecology of the plant species that germinate on the wet mud flats when the ponds are drained every few years for maintenance. 

Regensburg was founded by the Romans, and evidence of their walls can still be seen. I am standing in front of the original Roman gate built 2000 years ago and now a passageway between streets.  The town is dominated by one of Europe’s largest cathedrals, started in the 13th century and only completed 600 hundreds years later in the mid-19th century.  

A special treat just outside of of Regensburg on a hill above the Danube is full-scale replica of the Acropolis in Athens, built in the 19th century as a memorial to the German-speaking people. The interior of the structure has a gallery displaying the busts of people who have made the greatest contributions to the German people.

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