Forty-five minutes by fast train from Munich, which lies to the southeast, Augsberg, with its quarter-of-a-million population, is the third largest city in Bavaria. It is also the oldest, having been founded by the Romans 2,000 years ago.

It was part of the Roman empire for 400 years, a free imperial city for 500 years. For travelers, it is a prime stop on Germany's Romantic Road, a byway that leads to Wurzburg, Rothenburg, Dinkelsbuhl and other cities of legend, history and architectural leftovers.

Hans Holbein; Mozart's father, Leopold; Bertold Brecht were born here.

Hotels vary from the 18-room Dom, built in 1508 (Emperor Maximillian slept here), which charges 70 marks (about $42) double with bath, bed and breakfast, to the more fashionable Drei Mohren (the Three Moors) which stands on a site occupied by one hotel or another since the 14th century. A twin-bedded room here, with breakfast, is 145 marks ( $87). Unlike the Dom, which serves only breakfast, Der Drei Mohren has a formal (and rather starchy) restaurant.

Although a part of Bavaria, Augsburg is ethnically Swabian. Specialties of the region are served at Seben Schwaben Stuben, which in this regal city stands next to the golden arches of McDonald's.