The Alpenstrasse (Alpine Road) was laid out between 1934 and 1936. One of the famous German roads, which also include the Romantic Road, the Wine Road and the Castle Road, the Alpine Road starts in the west at Lake Constance and ends at Berchtesgaden. It runs along the foot of the Allgau and the Bavarian Alps for the entire length of their border with Austria. It passes through some of Bavaria’s most beautiful countryside, and alongside such famous sights as the castle Hohenschwangau and the Wies Church. Some parts of the road still have the original hand made pavement, arranged in a semicircular fan pattern, where the granite cobblestones support each other when pressure is put on them. The road follows the Weissbach, a glacier-created gorge.
This lovely area has a great variety of trees, including mountain maple, ash, beech, oak and linden. In autumn, the multicolored foliage creates a particularly beautiful scene. The colors range from light yellow to red to dark copper-tones, which contrast with the golden threads of the large tree and the dark shades of the ever greens.
The farms in this area, many quite isolated, are often more than 200 years old. Due to that isolation, some characteristic structures, such as the granary, have survived through the centuries. The granary usually stood next to the farmhouse, as it was safer to store the grain, the capital of the farmer, away from the fireplace. It was also used as a storage place for valuable possessions. The granary is a two-storied building, of which the upper is larger. Here the grain containers were kept, as well as smoked meat, dried fruit and bread. On the ground floor, wool and flax were kept. Rats and mice do not particularly care for flax and wool, but they are particularly fond of the farmer’s edibles. Though able to climb vertically up a wall, the rodents could not mange an overhang, which explains the construction of a projecting upper story. Elder trees are often planted near granaries; they are often planted near granaries; they are thought to deter lightning and keep away bugs.
Stay Munich Tip
Stay Munich : This is not really a story about what to see and do in Stay Munich. It is an attempt to get you around this popular city without destroying your budget. As with most tourist meccas, Stay Munich offers plenty of easy ways to pay top dollar for things that won’t really enhance [...]
Bavaria Germany’s most popular tourist destination, Munich is also – according to opinion polls – the city that native Germans would most like to live in. Its popularity is easy to understand. Located within eyeshot of the snowcapped Alps, Munich is sophisticated, wealthy and elegant, a city of broad boulevards and baroque facades; a thriving [...]
King Maximilian II, like his father King Ludwig I, contributed to the expansion of Munich. Maximilian chose a different direction for the street named after him, which runs eastward from the center of town and continues across the Isar – Perhaps in keeping with the 19th century trend of a return to nature. At the [...]
Prinzregentenstrasse (Angel of Peace,Haus der Kunst, Prinz Karl Palais) This street, which is the address of several interesting sites, was laid out at the end of the 19th century by an uncle of King Ludwig II. When Ludwig drowned in 1886, he left no heir. His brother, who was insane, officially inherited the title of [...]
The Nymphenburg Palace was built in the middle of the 17th century. At that time, Prince Elector Ferdinand-Maria married the Italian princess Henrietta. Both were only 14 years old, byt their marrtage was arranged for political reasons. It was 10 years before an heir to the throne was born. For this occasion, the happy father [...]
Chiemsee, the Bavarian Ocean, is the largest lake of Bavaria, measuring 9.25 square miles. The lake and its surroundings are the largest recreation area in Bavaria. The autobahn runs close to the flat and marshy southern bank, while an early Roman road between Salzburg and Augsburg ran along the opposite side, where the Romans also had a settlement. At the time the first monasteries were being founded in Bavaria, two monasteries were built on the islands of the Chiemsee. The smaller island is called the Fraueninsel (Ladies’ Island), because a convent has been operating there ever since the 8th century, with only a short interruption of 30 years in the 19th century. The church of the convent is visible from across the lake by its 17th century onion dome. The original towers date from the 11th century, and even older parts were found during archaeological work in 1961. Among them was the coffin of Blessed Irmingard, a great-granddaughter of Charlemagne. She directed the convent in the 9th century.
The founder of the monastery was the ill-fated Tassilo III, Duke of Bavaria, the last member of the ruling Agilolfing family. He and his family were completely wiped out by Charlemagne. The Dukes of Bavaria were appointed by the king, and had to pay tribute to him, usually in form of military service. The Frankish King Pepin, and later his son Charlemagne, were not pleased with the Bavarian, for Tassilo did not always fulfill his obligations to give military support to them. That Tassilo needed his troops to prevent the Awars from invading Central Europe did not affect their opinion. Tassilo was also the father-in –law of the Lombardic King, a hated enemy of the Franks. Tassilo’s attempt to become independent of the Frankish King resulted in his trial at Ingelheim in 788, at which time he was condemned to death. But he verdict was changed; Tassilo was instead blinded, and the members of his family disappeared behind monastery walls. But his memory survives, as the convent still stands. The village on the island is a lively fishing spot, and courses in pottery and painting are offered there. It was a favorite subject of 19th century painters.
The larger island in the Chiemsee is known as the Herrenchiemsee (Lords’ Island). The entire island was bought in 1873 by King Ludwig II, who not only wished to save its forests, but also to build another of his famous castles there. A visit to Versailles in 1867 had increased Ludwig’s admiration for the Sun King Louis XIV, and this castle was to be a replica of Versailles. Building started in 1878 and lasted until 1885, by which time 20 million marks had been spent and the treasury depleted.
Versailles was again the talk of the country in 1871, at which time the Second German Empire was proclaimed, and Wilhelm I was named Emperor. Germany was in theory a federal state, but was in fact under Prussian domination. Bismarck, the father of the Second Reich, granted Bavaria special rights and privileges. In peacetime Bavarian soldiers still could wear their traditional uniforms, Bavaria could issue her own stamps, and a Prussian embassy was maintained in Munich. Bismarck also provided Ludwig with money for his castles. In 1978, at the 100th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone of the castle, the music composed for Ludwig’s marriage, which never occurred, was performed. For special occasions, the castle in illuminated by almost 4,000 candles.
The history of this island is much older than Ludwig’s castle. A Benedictine abbey was founded here in the early 8th century. It was destroyed by Hungarian invaders, but reestablished in 1130 by the Archbishop of Salzburg, and remained under a diocesan bishop until the secularization in the early 19th century. Parts of the former Bishop’s palace are used as a hotel today.
In summertime the Chiemsee recreation area is invaded by tourists. They rent motorboats to visit the islands and bordering villages. Large areas are reserved for campers and trailers. Whereas private motorboats are allowed in limited numbers, private sailing boats are unrestricted. The last few years, the wind surfers have dominated the lake. The yachting school and club organize regattas for the many sailors. However, the popularity of sailing is a fairly recent development. Up to the 19th century, traditional rowboats were used, moved by man power. When in 1800 the first tourists came, they were primarily painters form Northern Germany. These guests from the North told the local residents about he boats used in the North sea and the Baltic, and described the sails that propelled them. The Bavarians could not believe in sailing boats, and a bet was made. A race was held between an man-powered boat and an improvised sailboat, which used a tablecloth as the sail. Due to a nice breeze, the sailing boat won, and the locals were convinced.
Before leaving the highway we pass a little town called Bergen. The village church, with its slender spire, houses a rock known as the sinner’s stone. Legend says that Tannhauser, who had accumulated a mountain of sins by enjoying himself in the Venusberg with Venus, the Goddess of Love, decided he wanted to return to normal life. He could only do so by receiving absolution from the Holy Father himself.
Hence, he left Venus, crossed the Alps, and made the pilgrimage to Rome. As penance, he carried a heavy rock on his back all the way from Rome to Bergen, where he dropped it, and where it remained.
Wilparting is one of the small villages near Irschenberg, though village might be an exaggeration, since it consists of only three buildings: a farmhouse, a pilgrimage church and a chapel. The Baroque church with its little round chapel commemorates early days of Christianity. In the 8th century, two Irish-Scottish monks, Anianus and Marinus, were active in this area. The chapel was built on the site of thehermitage of Marinus, who was martyred there. After the Thirty Years’ War and the rebirth of the Catholic Church via the Counter Reformation, church building experienced a real boom. Beginning around 1700, many older Gothic churches were transformed into Late Baroque style, while others were simply replaced by more modern structures. Sometimes only a tower stands as a reminder of a church that dated back to the 13th, 14th or 15th century. Often even the towers were changed, their pointed spires replaced by the newly popular onion shape. The largest of these is atop the Church of Westerndorf, whose entire round nave is covered by an enormous onion.
Coming down from the Irschenberg, the countryside is flat and open, and is actually the bottom of a dried out lake. As a result, the land in the area is boggy and swampy. Many towns in the area are healing places, or spas, as indicated by the Bad in their names.
This tour takes us southeast of Munich via the autobahn, direction Salzburg. But rather than go directly there, we make a special stopover in Berchtesgaden. Though the autobahn already provides an enchanting view of the Bavarian countryside, the trip over the winding mountain roads that lead to Berchtesgaden is particularly scenic.
Shortly out of Munich the autobahn passed the headquarters of MBB, which stands for Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm. It is one of Germany’s leaders in modern technology and – as the name suggests – was formed by the merger of here older firms.
During World War II, the Messerschmitt Company manufactured the famous fighterplane, Me 109, and the first jet-propelled aircraft in mass production, Me 262; both planes are on display in the German Museum in Munich. Today the giant firm manufactures helicopters and weapons, makes major parts of the European passenger plane, Airbus, and developed two successful solar satellites, known als Helios. MBB also created a rapid transit system, which included MBB, created Spacelab, which is put in orbit by the American.
The southern half of Munich is surrounded by forests, and the autobahn to Salzburg was cut through the Forest of Hofolding. Though originally the forests around the city were maxed with spruces, oak and beech trees, by 1800 they consisted nearly only of spruces. For hundreds of years before, farmers had driven their pigs, cows and goats into the woods to let them graze and eat the fruits and nuts. But the animals also discovered that the young sprouts of the deciduous trees were especially delicious. The young shoots had no chance of survival, and eventually only the older trees survived. Only the spruces, with their prickly needles, continued to grow. This fast growing tree was discovered to be a very valuable natural resource, and the tendency of the survival of the fittest of the forest was further advanced by reforesting spruces only. When very densely planted, spruces grow quickly and straight toward the light. After some 20 years the forest is thinned, and the remaining trees grow in diameter. Today there is an attempt to return the forest to its original state, but instead of cows and pigs, an overpopulation of hungry red deer again makes survival of the young deciduous trees difficult. Hunting in Germany has very strict regulations. Not only is a hunting license required, but he future hunter must attend a special course and pass an examination in order to get one. The exam requires an extended knowledge of forests, including all the plant and wildlife. This is necessary because, once the hunter holds a license, he is responsible for the care and protection of the plants and animals in his designated territory, and must replace old or sick trees, feed animals in winter, etc. Each hunting territory has a minimum size, and the state authority dictates the number of animals that may be shot there. Hunting fees are extremely high. Hunting game is not as popular a sport as hunting mushrooms. For that, no license is necessary, but a lot of knowledge and a good eye are essential to tell the good guys from the bad – the difference could be fatal! Mushroom fans have their secret places where they fine their favorite species. Local experts in the different quarters of Munich help identify the mushrooms in case of doubts.
The first autobahn in Germany, opened in 1935, connected Frankfurt and Darmstadt. The autobahn between Salzburg and Munich continues on to Karlsruhe; it was built in 1938. By the end of World War II, all the important bridges along the highways were blasted to slow the advance of the Allied troops. One of these crosses the River Mangfall. Until this bridge was rebuilt, secondary roads were used that took the driver all the way to the foot of the valley, to the river bed. This is a protected area where most of the drinking water of Munich comes from. It is considered one of the best quality drinking waters in the world.
After a long ascent along the autobahn, the highest point between Munich and Salzburg is reached. The hill is called Irschenberg, and provides a view that could be taken from a 19th century painting. From the top of this hill, on a clear day, some 130 church towers are visible. Each village has its own church, though some have to share one priest.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen – mere mention of the name brings to mind the image of the ideal Alpine vacation spot. Framed by breathtaking mountain ranges, Garmisch is popular with people of all ages and interests. Winter guests delight in the superb skiing, while summer tourists flock to town for hiking and mountain climbing adventures. Visitors come all year’ round to take a cure in the famous health spas of Garmisch. The town sits at the foot of the Zugspitze, at 10,000 feet the highest mountain of Germany. The peak of the Zugspitze is accessible by means of tow cable cars and a cogwheel train. This is possible only due to an amazing feat of engineering, completed around 1930, by workers who blasted many miles of tunnels into the rock.
It was in 1820 that the first person set foot on the summit of this mountain. At that time, people thought the lord of the mountain, a demon called Zugspitz, would bar any man from entering his realm. But one man, a survey or named Josef Naus, was unimpressed by those tales and managed to reach the peak. However, when he returned to town, nobody believed him. But in time a cross was mounted on the mountain top, and a hotel followed around 1900. The Zugspitzplatt, a glacier, and the entire mountain are covered with a network of ski lifts a skiier’s paradise.
Divided by the River Loisach, which flows through town, Garmisch-Partenkirchen was the first German winter sports resort. In 1935 the two villages Garmisch and Partenkirchen were merged in order to accommodate the 1936 Winter Olympic games. In the former Olympic Stadium, two full-size ski jumps and a smaller training jump are still in use. Nearly one hundred competitions are held in Garmisch every winter, including the famous New Year’s Ski Jumping contest. An ice skating rink and a bobsled run are also available for winter sports enthusiasts. Summertime also offers a selection of sport activities, as well as cultural events like concerts, theaters and traditional Bavarian entertainment.
Adding to the special charm of Garmisch-Partenkirchen is the mixture of architectural styled. Modern buildings suited to the Alpine setting blend harmoniously with the older peasant houses. Garmisch was a favorite subject of artists long before it was discovered by the massed. But when the popularity of winter sports, the healing effects of the Alpine air, and the town’s romantic setting brought a steadily growing flow of visitors, Garmisch-Partenkirchen was quickly brought to a 20th century pace.
Long ago, however, Garmisch and Partenkirchen had far-reaching reputations as trade centers. Located on the trade road between Venice and Augsburg, the towns profited by controlling the transportation and storage of goods exchanged between Northern Europe and Venice, at that time the gateway for trade with the East. Venice’s merchants delivered spices, silk, dyes, damask, porcelain and other luxurious goods. However, in the 16th century, goods began to be shipped by sea to the west coast of Europe, and so these Alpine villages returned to their quiet state, the riches of former times now only a memory. Today, however, only the rich can afford to buy a home or apartment here; prices are Zugspitze high. The percentage of older people in Garmisch is far above the average of other German towns. Retired citizens from all over the country choose Garmisch as the place to spend their remaining years – and nobody can blame them.