A first glimpse of the town impresses immediately. Almost an island, practically surrounded by the river Inn with its steep cliffs, Wasserburg appears quite extraordinary. On entering the town, the visitor has the feeling of entering a fairy tale world. A town with pastel coloured walls, archways and battlements, a gateway and mighty fortress – who hasn´t imagined and painted a town like this as a child?
If you were to ask visitors and residents of Wasserburg what they treasure most about the town, they would start waxing lyrically about its mediterranean feel, its cosmopolitan flair, how quaint, how culturally active, musical, sporty, historical, natural, lively and full of delights. Simply a lovely part of the world.
The old part of town with its colourful gothic houses pulsates with life and when the street cafés overflow, locals and visitors just meet together under the arcades to shop, celebrate or chat in its narrow streets. The 17 schools and colleges, everything from schools meeting special needs to technical colleges, provide a youthful aspect in this town of 13.000 residents.
The life of the town has been further enriched, as a centre of trade and culture in the region. While the old parts of town are characterized by many local businesses, trades and shops, its gates have now opened to admit world-wide renowned businesses which have settled and developed here. Together with the many services offered and the town´s two hospitals, prosperity is almost guaranteed in Wasserburg and its surrounding hinterland.
Wasserburg is one of the most historic towns of Old Bavaria – somewhat older than Munich, a good 50 km to the west, continually fought over by the bavarian nobility and, up to the 16th century, on an equal footing with larger cities. The privileges afforded by this enabled the salt trade to flourish right into the 19th century. Lying on the junction of the main overland route with the main water route, Wasserburg became the most important trade centre with the Balkans, Austria and Italy, a means of attaining power and wealth for the shipping owners and merchants.
The protected position provided by the Inn, with its island peninsular, helped to make the fortress town, dominated by its castle of the Hallgrafen and later the Wittlesbacher family, virtually impregnable. Handicrafts and art also thrived in this rich trading town, so that, during its heyday in the 15th century, prestigious buildings appeared. Wasserburg´s gothic style is of particular interest, but its green avenues, quiet cul-de-sacs and beautiful hidden squares are also a tourist attraction.
“This majestic river seems to embrace this riverside town in a circular path, almost surrounding it, before finally meandering on its way towards the mountains and forests...”
This description is from a guidebook of Wasserburg from the middle of the 19th century. It clearly indicates the layout of the town as presented from The Kellerberg and other viewing points or from a boat on the Inn. The Inn, the most powerful river north of the Alps, nestles against the house fronts up to 7/ 8ths around the town, nearly circumventing it. The influence of the river is apparent every year at high water when the water surges past the houses, a reminder not only of the Inn´s beauty and grace but also of its dangers.
At first glance, Wasserburg, the little town in the meander
of the Inn, arouses one´s interest. A closer exploration
through the old town, reveals many fascinating hidden
corners and is a typical case of “the best things
come in small packages”.