The town is impressive at first sight. Due to its island position and the topographical separation from River Inn and scarp, Wasserburg negates familiar expectations. A newly arriving traveller enjoys a fairy-tale view before even entering: A town of pastel-colored walls, of oriels and pinnacles, with its town gate and a mighty castle. It looks just like the medieval town you imagined in your childhood dreams.
Asked about what they like about Wasserburg, residents and tourists alike start raving: It is mediterranean, cosmopolitan, lively, cultured and multicultural, racy, historical, natural, fun-loving, and enchantingly beautiful. Simply a lovable place. Life vibrates in the historic center with its colorful, Gothic houses: The street cafes are crowded, locals and guests stroll underneath the arcades, they shop, party, or stop for a chat in the alleys. Youthfulness in this town of 13,000 is ensured by the students of the 17 schools in Wasserburg – from grade schools to the college of administration.
The fact that Wasserburg has remained a regional capital of trade and culture to this day certainly helps to keep the place dynamic and alive. While the historic center is dominated by numerous shops, taverns, and crafts enterprises, global players settled outside the town walls. Along with the diverse service industry and two hospitals, they safeguard the town's and its surroundings' prosperity.
Wasserburg is one of Old Bavaria's towns of highest historic significance. It is older than Munich which only lies 50 kilometers to its West. The Bavarian dukes fiercely competed about Wasserburg on a regular basis until the 16th century, granting the town the same rights usually reserved for the large royal seats. Furnished with privileges, the salt trade blossomed till the 19th century. Due to its location at the important junction of the River Inn waterway and one of the most important land trade routes, Wasserburg became the leading transaction point for goods from the Balkans, Austria, and Italy, bringing power and wealth to local ship owners and merchants.
Its secure location on the peninsula surrounded by the River Inn made the town– fortified with towers and walls, and surmounted by the Hallgrave ("Hallgrafen") and later Wittelsbach castle - almost invulnerable. This wealthy trading town also proved a place for crafts and arts to flourish, so that prestigious structures were built during its golden age in the 15th century. Wasserburg presents itself to visitors as a center of the Gothic style, charming its guests with its pergolas, its narrow alleys, and its pretty squares.
„The majestic stream, seemingly connected to this water town in passion and embrace, changes its course, curves pouncing against the town, orbits in a circle around it, and resumes its original direction through mountain banks and forests...“ This description stems from one of the first travel guides about Wasserburg, from the middle of the 19th century. It elucidates the basics of the townscape as it can be seen from Kellerberg Mountain, from other look-outs, or from boats on the Inn River. The stream floats closely to the houses; the town is almost completely – to seven-eighths to be exact – surrounded by the biggest mountain river north of the Alps. Today, its power is at the very least remembered when a high flood lets the waters race by the houses – a strong reminder that the River Inn is not only green and quick, but also dangerous.
Wasserburg, the small town at the loop of the River Inn, charms its guests at first sight. But a stroll through the historic center still reveals many hidden treasures for those who take the time.