Despite the fact that the city of Ingolstadt lies on the River Danube, I have yet to see a cruise boat or a coach load of tourists. In fact the city seems very normal. There is a large pedestrianised shopping area in the heart of the old town with stores and cafes and even a ‘Lush’. On the outskirts are a large modern shopping mall and an even bigger designer outlet centre. The city is also blessed with a large theatre, outdoor concert area and arena providing endless opportunities for entertainment.
However, you don’t have to go far to find signs of its strong military past. From 1392 to 1447 Ingolstadt was the capital of the Duchy of Bavaria-Ingolstadt and the duke, Ludwig the Bearded, created an imposing fortress which now houses the Bavarian Army Museum. On the opposite side of the Danube, connected by a footbridge covered in padlocks as a sign of romantic declaration, are even more dramatic 19th century fortifications. The curved, white-stone features of the Turm Triva and the Reduit Tilly seem formidable and appropriately house additional sections of the Bavarian Army Museum and the Bavarian Police Museum.
Whilst I am impressed with the military architecture, I am not really interested in the museums. It is Ingolstadt’s role as an important historical State University that has caught my eye. In particular the Alte Anatomie where medical research was conducted and where Mary Shelley’s most famous character, Victor Frankenstein, studied as a young medical student. The building now houses a Museum of the History of Medicine but I am unable to see the fascinating exhibits as the Museum is closed until next year. Luckily, I can still admire the herb garden where the plants are carefully labelled and the poisonous specimens marked accordingly.
Less poisonous is the beer from local hops which Ingolstadt has produced for the last 500 years in strict accordance to the Bavarian Reinheitsgebot. This standardisation for the production of beer is considered to be the oldest law relating to food or drink in the world. Sadly, I am too late for the April festival of pure beer but there are still plenty of bars in town where I can find the liquid gold and even the angels in the Cathedral seem to be taking their share.