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Welcoming speech by Lord Mayor Hans Schaidinger to participants of the Spring Meeting of the German Physical Society, on Monday, March 22nd 2010, at 19.00 in the Imperial Chamber (Reichssaal)
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am proud and deeply honoured to welcome you to this year´s Spring Meeting of the German Physical Society here in Regensburg.
As you surely have noticed, we are not a world city. But we are honoured to be part of the World Heritage. Since July 2006 our medieval city centre with its almost 1000 ancient and historical monuments has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We are not a metropolis, but a medium sized, comfortable and beautiful city which is home to an astonishing number of internationally active companies as well as medium sized enterprises.
This guarantees our local economy is not dependent on only one or two industrial giants. And it makes sure we get through times of crisis – such as those we are experiencing now – much better. Our companies, no matter whether big or small, start up businesses or long-established concerns, all have something in common: creativity, highest quality standards, perfectly skilled personnel and products meeting the needs of the markets – worldwide.
Incidentally - talking about physics: one of our global players is Osram Opto Semiconductors, a company which is developing the light technologies of the future. If the headlights of your car use LED technology there is a good chance that physicists and engineers working in the Osram factory in Regensburg developed and designed them. This energy- saving lighting is now even finding its way into our old city: Osram, together with the Siemens company – who also run a plant in Regensburg - have developed special LED lighting for our streets and squares. The German Ministry of the Environment awarded this project in recognition of its exemplary contribution towards saving energy and protecting the climate.
However some still regard us as the somewhat sleepy capital of the Upper Palatinate. Others envy us because we achieved an astonishingly high position in a recent ranking assessing the future prospects of one thousand cities and regions all over Europe. Regensburg is in 8th position – up from 77th place one year before. I´m proud to say we now are playing a major role in the European league – and are even ahead of Paris, Dublin, and Amsterdam.
It looks as if Regensburg is regaining the important role played by the city in Europe centuries ago.
Please allow me to take you on a short trip through our history.
Just a stone’s throw from here you can see the second largest Roman gate still standing on German soil - the Porta Praetoria, once the entrance to the Roman camp Castra Regina. From there it’s only a minute´s walk to the Stone Bridge, built between 1135 and 1146. The only permanent crossing over the Danube during the early Middle Ages, in those days it was regarded as one of the wonders of the world.
Should a visitor to Regensburg still fail to be impressed, we can tell him he is in the first capital city of Bavaria. Just imagine: 600 years before Munich was even founded our city was already a significant, thriving commercial centre.
Historians even go as far as to say that the Dukedom of Bavaria has its origins in Regensburg. Bavaria could thus never have existed without Regensburg.
In our city you discover two thousand years of living history with every step you take on a stroll through the old city centre.
In the 13th and 14th centuries Regensburg was an important transition point for continental trade. A network of trading partners stretched from northern Italy to Scandinavia, from Kiev to Byzantium and England.
During this period the commercial power of Regensburg reached its zenith.
Medieval chroniclers sang the praises of the city, describing it as the "most populous" and "most powerful" in Germany. In terms of commerce we were also well to the fore.
Bearing witness to the wealth of those days are the mighty residences and patrician towers built by Regensburg's outward-looking merchants and inspired by the palaces they had seen on their journeys to Italy.
In 1245 Regensburg was the city with the second largest population in Germany after Cologne – and it soon started attracting scholars and researchers.
At that time - and up until the end of the 18th century - powerful monasteries were influential centres of scholarship promoting knowledge, learning and research.
In 1962 Regensburg became a university town. Today our city is once again a centre attracting academics, researchers and scholars. Regensburg is a university town with a unique profile, enjoying an excellent international reputation.
Numerous scientific conferences and meetings, like your own, have contributed towards maintaining our reputation and tradition as a city of scholarship, science and research.
I am therefore very glad that you have again chosen our city as the venue for your annual gathering.
For your meetings, for your working sessions, and for your discussions
I wish you every success.
If I may, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to finish by wishing you something else: that you will be able to find at least a little time to get to know our city, despite all the hours of hard work ahead.
May Regensburg work its magic on you. Enjoy our Bavarian hospitality and the flair of Italy’s northernmost city.
I am looking forward to seeing all of you again in Regensburg!