Another piece of Pittsburgh exceptionalism shot to hell: Today I learned that Pittsburgh is *not* the original City of Three Rivers. That distinction apparently belongs to the Bavarian city of Passau, which has its own "point" - the merger of the Donau (known to English speakers as the Danube), the Inn, and the Ilz.

Age? Pittsburgh recently celebrated its 250th birthday. Passau, like Pittsburgh a city that boomed because of its critical location relative to a vital commodity (in Passau's case, it was salt), was founded 1,300 years ago.

For a truly old city, despite the demise of the salt trade, Passau seems to be doing reasonably well. Tourism is huge. The Baroque St. Stephen's Cathedral houses one of the largest pipe organs in the world. Passau sits at the crossroads of several long distance cycling routes. In decent weather, the old city is filled with cyclists from all over Europe. And several cruise lines ferry busloads of visitors up and down the rivers.

Passau has the virtues of being a charming small Bavarian (read: Baroque) city that borrows a bit of Austria (because Austria lies just a short distance beyond) and benefits from a heavy Italian influence. The buildings are German; the streets have a cobbled, winding Northern Italian feel. Today, I ate gelato in Passau -- not "eis" -- in the shadow of the Dom, across the street from an antiques dealer who had an Austrian shield mounted above his door.


2 Responses to "Dreiflüssestadt"

Anonymous said... 7/17/2010 4:48 PM

to add another data point: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triveni_Sangam

Allahabad, India (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allahabad) is also known as city of three rivers.

SkinnyDynamo said... 7/26/2010 9:59 AM

Yeah, but our rivers are wider and bridgier than Passau's.

More importantly, how many Lombardi Trophies does Passau have? Wh-wha-what? Oh, you say none?! Well, then.

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