Ingolstadt is a hidden gem in the heart of Bavaria. In the summer of 2015, Will had an internship with a contractor for Audi (he’s super smart, remember?). He was there for three months and I flew over for three and a half weeks. We rented a car and explored the country on weekends, but Ingolstadt was our home base. Ingolstadt was established circa 1250 as a fortress city and is still partially enclosed by a medieval wall. Here are some cool things you’ll find there:
This medieval red-brick tower really looks like it was plucked straight out of a fairy tale. Therefore, it’s no surprise the Kreuztor is easily the most recognizable thing about Ingolstadt. It was built in 1385 as one of the city’s original four main gates, of which only two remain standing today. Seeing this gate really made me feel like I was stepping back in history.
The BayerischesArmeemuseum, or Bavarian Army Museum, covers the Middle Ages to present-day and is located in Ingolstadt. It is divided into three sections – the Bavarian Army Museum, the Museum of World War I, and the Bavarian Police Museum. The Museum of the First World War is housed in the Reduit Tilly Castle and details life on the front. Here you can see replicas of weapons used in WWI and model trenches. The gardens behind, Klenzepark, make for a nice afternoon stroll.
My two favorite things about Europe (besides the people): castles and cathedrals. While the museums listed above are all housed in castles, they’ve got nothing on this cathedral. It was built between 1732 and 1736 in the Baroque style on the exterior, but the interior definitely has more of the Rococo flare. The ceiling fresco depicts Cosmas Damian Asam’s “The Incarnation of the Lord.”
Ingolstadt is home to Audi’s headquarters. The museum offers guided factory tours as well as their exhibitions. In the museum, you can see several different racing cars like the Quattro rally cars and a 1937 Auto Union V16 Type C Streamliner race car. The website also offers a virtual tour that you can find here.
Speaking of Audi…change one letter and you get… Aldi?! Wait, why is Aldi on this list? Don’t we have those in the U.S.? The simple answer? Yes. But this is Aldi as you’ve never seen it before. They really are that much better. First of all, they have a BREAD. VENDING. MACHINE. As in, you put in € 0.79. It gives you a warm, flaky, buttery croissant. Or for € 1.29, you can get a personal pizza. And it is DELICIOUS. They also sell cases of 16 beers (it comes in pints) for € 12. And then there’s the “American Freezer Section.” This is where they keep the popcorn shrimp, beef burger patties, chicken nuggets, onion rings, cheese sticks, ice cream, strawberry shortcake, brownie cake – all the foods I hadn’t seen in weeks. To this day I do not shop at American Aldi. Because in comparison, they are a letdown.
In Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel, “Frankenstein,” a young Victor Frankenstein sets out for medical school at, you guessed it, the University of Ingolstadt. Ingolstadt was then home to a prominent medical facility in the Alte Anatomie (now a museum). It was only fitting that Dr. Frankenstein chose here to bury himself in experiments.
Okay, I have to be honest… I had no idea the Illuminati was founded here until I sat down to write this. But. It’s true. Adam Weishaupt, a law professor at the University of Ingolstadt, founded the Order of the Illuminati in May of 1776. His goal was simple: he wanted a government free from religious influence. Fast forward some 244 years later, the Illuminati has become one of the biggest conspiracy theories. Whispers about secret meetings still carry throughout Ingolstadt to this day….
8) Beer as Big as Your Face
Ingolstadt is all about their beer. You’ve got beer in your backyard. There’s beer in a tent. Beer by the river. And beer in a glass the actual size of your face. Every summer, they have their Beer Fest, where they erect the big blue and white Bavarian beer tent and have parades of wagons carrying barrels of beer. They even have carnival rides. So if you’re a fan of beer (and let’s face it, who isn’t??), then you’re in the right spot.
9) Biking along the Danube
Ingolstadt is very bike-friendly. The city is littered with bike trails and cars actually yield to bikers. Everyone has their bikes equipped with a peddle-powered headlight (it’s required in the city after dark). I’d never seen anything like it before and, honestly, I don’t know why it isn’t more common in the U.S. The Danube River runs right through the center of town and there is an incredible trail that runs along it right into the heart of the city (I couldn’t help but think of the U.K. bike ladies I’d met on the train). Biking is definitely the best way to see all the history this medieval town has to offer.
10) Extreme Putt-Putt
I’m not talking about your run-of-the-mill mini-golf experience. I’m talking PVC pipe and steel obstacles and no artificial grass to slow the ball – which makes it straight-up impossible for any normal human being to get a hole-in-one. One course had an actual maze around the hole. These balls bounce all over the place (check out the videos below)- it’s almost like playing dodgeball. It’s ridiculously hard. And ridiculously fun. Also, it is free and right by the Danube.