Passau (Latin: Batavis or Latin: ''Batavia'', also Latin: ''Passavium''; Italian: Passavia; Czech: Pasov) is a town in Lower Bavaria, Germany, known also as the Dreiflüssestadt (City of Three Rivers), because the Danube is joined there by the Inn from the South, and the Ilz coming out of the Bavarian Forest to the North.
Its population is 50,415, of whom about 10,000 are students at the local University of Passau. The university, founded in the late 1970s, is the extension of the Institute for Catholic Studies (Katholisch-Theologische Fakultät) founded in 1622. It is renowned in Germany for its institutes of Economics, Law, Theology, Computer Sciences and Cultural Science.
Passau was an ancient Roman colony of ancient Noricum called Batavis, Latin for "for the Batavi." The Batavi were an ancient Germanic tribe often mentioned by classical authors, and they were regularly associated with the Suebian marauders, the Heruli.
During the second half of the 5th century, St. Severinus established a monastery here. In 739, an Irish monk called Boniface founded the diocese of Passau and this was the largest diocese of the Holy Roman Empire for many years.
In the Treaty of Passau (1552), Archduke Ferdinand I, representing Emperor Charles V, secured the agreement of the Protestant princes to submit the religious question to a diet. This led to the Peace of Augsburg in 1555.
During the Renaissance and early modern period, Passau was one of the most prolific centres of sword and bladed weapon manufacture in Germany (after Solingen). Passau smiths stamped their blades with the Passau wolf, usually a rather simplified rendering of the wolf on the city's coat-of-arms. Superstitious warriors believed that the Passau wolf conferred invulnerability on the blade's bearer, and thus Passau swords acquired a great premium. As a result, the whole practice of placing magical charms on swords to protect the wearers came to be known for a time as "Passau art." (See Eduard Wagner, Cut and Thrust Weapons, 1969). Other cities' smiths, including those of Solingen, recognized the marketing value of the Passau wolf and adopted it for themselves. By the 17th century, Solingen was producing more wolf-stamped blades than Passau was.
From 1892 until 1894 Adolf Hitler and his family lived in Passau. The city archives mention Hitler being in Passau on 4 different occasions in the 1920s for speeches.
During World War II the town housed three sub-camps of the infamous Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp: Passau I (Oberilzmühle), Passau II (Waldwerke Passau-Ilzstadt) and Passau III (Jandelsbrunn). It was the site of a post World War II American sector displaced persons camp.
Tourism in Passau focuses mainly on the three rivers, the St. Stephen's Cathedral (Der Passauer Stephansdom) and the "Old City" (Die Altstadt). With 17,774 pipes, the organ at St. Stephen's was long held to be the largest church pipe organ in the world and is today second in size only to the organ at First Congregational Church, Los Angeles, which was expanded in 1994. Organ concerts are held daily between May and September. St.Stephen is a true masterpiece of Italian Baroque,built by Italian architect Carlo Lurago and decorated in part by Carpoforo Tencalla. Many river cruises down the Danube start at Passau and there is a cycling path all the way down to Vienna. It is also notable for its gothic and baroque architecture. The town is dominated by the Veste Oberhaus and the former fortress of the Bishop, on the mountain crest between the Danube and the Ilz rivers. Right beside the town hall is the Scharfrichterhaus, an important jazz and cabaret stage on which political cabaret is performed.