During our bus ride from Deggendorf to Regensburg on Tuesday July 9th, our driver told us to look off in the distance and we would see the famous Walhalla Memorial.
He of course pronounced the “W” in Walhalla as a “V”, and I must confess that I was a bit confused as Valhalla to me was from Norse mythology, and something I had studied way back in Grade 9…….a long time ago.
The driver went on to explain that Walhalla is a hall-of-fame that honours laudable and distinguished people in German history – politicians, sovereigns, scientists and artists for the most part.
When I got back on board the ship at the end of the day, there was some reading material about Walhalla, and I found out a bit more about it.
Built between 1830 and 1842 at the behest of King Ludwig I, Walhalla was intended to restore the self-confidence of the German nation, one that was divided into many small states following the end of the Napoleonic Wars.
He chose a hillside overlooking the Danube since it was a river of great historical significance, and it was also in sight of Regensburg, the Imperial City of emperors and kings.
Ludwig decided he wanted the memorial to take the form of a Greek temple, so the architect, Leo von Klenze took the Parthenon in Athens as his model (see the picture below).
As you know from my previous post, Captain Anne and the Viking Lif had received the go-ahead from the Danube River authorities to continue our journey westward, and shortly after 5 PM on Tuesday, July 9th, we began moving toward Regensburg (remember we had been bused there due to low water levels, but now we were going to sail right through the middle of the city).
While we were at dinner, a passenger seated by one of the windows suddenly remarked, “look there’s the Walhalla”, and since I was rarely without my camera on this trip, I excused myself from the table, and dashed outside to a side balcony.
Now, instead of a long-distance view from the highway, we were sailing right in front of it, and it really was a truly majestic sight, just as King Ludwig had intended.
You can see from the next picture (below), that there were people climbing the steps and many others sitting between the massive columns, watching the river traffic, and enjoying a warm summer evening.
When it first opened in 1842, there were 96 busts , plus 46 plaques (for those persons or events of which no portrait was available to model a sculpture).
Over the years those numbers have increased to 130 busts, and 64 plaques, and the scientist Max Planck will be the next to be added before the end of 2019.
I purchased a couple of Walhalla postcards in Nuremberg so that I could show what the interior of the memorial looks like – Mozart is in the middle of the bottom row in the first one. A stand-alone postcard showing the bust of Beethoven is directly below the group shot.
I felt quite fortunate to have had my camera at the ready, and I’ve included a few more shots (below), that show the memorial from different angles, as we passed by.
One final note on Walhalla relates to the question “how does one qualify to be commemorated in this Germanic Hall-of-Fame?”. The selections are made by the Bavarian Council of Ministers, and submissions are made to them from various interest groups. Besides his or her fame, inductees must have been deceased for a minimum of five years, and a German-speaker.
It is worth mentioning that during his lifetime, Hitler lobbied and in fact demanded that he be included upon his death, but it should come as no surprise, that any efforts to have him memorialized within Walhalla, have quickly been cast aside.
I hope and pray that he never does get included.