Deutsche Alpenstrasse - a beautiful itinerary
Bavaria, the southernmost of Germany's states, has a beautiful nature, especially in the south towards Austria, where we find high mountains and a lush landscape. In this area, a road route that was established in the 30 century when car tourism was at its forefront. The route that runs on the north side of the Alps from Bodensee to the west to Königssee to the east was called Deutsche Alpenstrasse. Today, this is a road route that is run by tens of thousands of tourists. Both by private car and accommodation at dedicated hotels, or by motorhome or caravan with accommodation at campsites and car parks. The route is about 450 km, and runs on good roads through a variety of beautiful cities and historic sites. It is recommended to take good time on this route. Maybe go hiking, visit a lot of castles and museums or simply enjoy the German hospitality.
In this article I will lose you through the route from west to east and start in Lindau, a cozy city located partly on mainland and partly on an island outside of Bodensee. The city was first mentioned in 882 writings, so this is a very old city. Bodensee forms a border between Germany, Switzerland and Austria, so if you drive around the sea you will get three countries. With a small avenue you can visit Liechtenstein as well. There is a campsite a little south of the city, right on the border with Austria. From there, there is easy bicycle distance into town. It is recommended to go out on the island and maybe enjoy a nice meal at one of the city's restaurants.
When we start the trip east we drive into the Allgäu region. For us Norwegians who are interested in winter sports, this is a well-known breed. Oberstdorf has been the venue for many Norwegian triumphs over the years and may be worth a visit. The city will be a little detour on 12-15 km from our route, but it's nice weather, it's nice to have such a trip along with a ride with the gondola course up to Nebelhorn, 2224 moh. A stunning panoramic view.
Back on the route we will arrive at the Oberjoch Pass immediately. This is a trade route that was used back in the Middle Ages. Mainly as transport of salt from the salt mines further east of Bavaria. 1662 writings say that during the year, 15.850 barrels of salt (each about 280 kg) were shipped over this passport. Whole 300 horses went over the pass every day. Today's road was built in 1895 and swings up the 300 height meters throughout the 106 swings. This is one of the few parts of Deutsche Alpenstrasse which is not recommended for caravans. By motorhome it's okay to drive, and if you do not have too much a car, it should be okay.
The next major city we come to is Füssen, Bavaria's highest-lying city. An old border town with a monastery where the bishop collected taxes from the travelers. The monastery is today city museum and well worth a visit. A stroll in the old town is always pleasant, and with several good eateries there is no reason to go hungry from there. The landscape around Füssen is very beautiful with large flat farmlands surrounded by high mountains. Therefore, it was a favorite place for the royal and other wealthy to live in the area. King Maxmillian II stayed a lot on Schloss Hohenschwangau, just east of the city. But even though it is a great castle, it's fading against his son, King Ludwig II, to build just beyond. Ludwig, who spent much of the upbringing on Hohenschwangau, was crowned King only 18 years old after his father died suddenly in 1864.
Ludwig II was called the "event king" because he lived in his own fantasy world in many ways. He spent a lot of money building castle, and one of them was Neuschwanstein, built on the ruins of an ancient castle. His use of money and the lack of interest in his royal duties eventually became a problem for Bavaria, and only 40 years old he was declared insane and removed from the throne. He had then surrendered all the assets and took on a debt of 14 million. A few days later, he was found dead under mysterious and unclear circumstances. Then he had lived only 177 days at Neuschwanstein, and never managed to see it done. After his death, the castle was opened to the public so the people could see how the king managed his funds. Schloss Neuschwanstein is now one of Germany's most visited tourist attraction with approximately 1,3 million visitors each year. The castle has also modeled the castles of Walt Disney's universe.
Passion Play town
From Füssen, the trip continues on an arch to the north and east. One of the towns we come to is Oberammergau, a city with a special tradition. In 1633 a citysledge was ravaging in the region, and a large part of the population died. The inhabitants of Oberammergau prayed to God that if they were spared, they should make and carry out a puzzle game in honor of Jesus' life and death. After this the plague returned, and the inhabitants kept what they promised. A puzzle game that deals with Jesus last months was written, based on ancient writings. It was first introduced in 1634, and is being conducted every 10 years. Next time you will be in 2020 and there are performances throughout the summer. 2010 performed 102 performances and each show lasted five hours, including food break. The entire production requires about 2000 people, and apart from a few recruited professional actors, all inhabitants of Oberammergau are. Most male actors let the hair and beard grow up to the game, so you can watch the inhabitants that the time for the game is approaching. The game is performed in a large amphibious area with sliding ceilings, so that when the weather allows it is played in the open sky. The amphitheater has room for 4700 spectators and is full at every performance. Tickets are usually sold in packages including accommodation in the hotels in the area and have great economic significance for the city. Oberammergau is also renowned for its rich tree-skinned traditions, often figures of religious origin. The city has more sales of such beautiful craftsmanship.
If you did not visit the castle Neuschwanstein you can now take a trip to Linderhof. The smallest castle that King Ludwig built, and the only thing he managed to finish. He lived there for the last few years of his short life, before the last six months spent at Neuschwanstein. The Linderhof is built with inspiration from Versailles, the castle of the "Solstice" of Louis XIV, but on a smaller scale. The castle is surrounded by a beautiful park, especially the area in front of the castle is richly decorated. It is built around a pool with a fountain that gets water pressure from far up the hill behind the castle. When the water is applied every half hour the water column is up to 22 meters. But the most spectacular at Linderhof is the Venus cave behind the castle. The cave is artificially built, and is a result of Ludwig's fascination with composer Richard Wagner. He set up several of Wagner's operas inside the cave with full choir and orchestra. As a rule, only the king belongs. Either in a boat on the landscaped lake, or in a separate cabin opposite the stage.
A few kilometers further south we come to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, another famous name for those interested in winter sports. These are actually two cities that have grown together, and therefore the two-part name. The Winter Olympics were hosted here in 1936, and every year the traditional New Year's race is organized by many Norwegians on the TV screen. A visit to the Olympic Stadium with the jumpers is mandatory when you are here. Feel free to take a walk with the little gondola course right next door. A nice trip with a view of the city while enjoying a small meal with beer and sausage. If you want more spectacular views, you drive a bit outside the city and take the train or gondola to Zugspitze, Germany's highest mountain 2962 moh. Inside the city (or towns) you can stroll in the streets and look at the beautiful murals that adorn many of the houses. These usually have motives showing something about those living in the houses. The traditions are well-kept at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, and you can often meet local people in traditional outfits. At Gasthof Fraundorfer you can enjoy good Bavarian traditional fare accompanied by accordion music, jodling and the traditional dance Schuhplattlern.
Further from Garmisch-Partenkirchen we come to some beautiful lakes, Walchensee and Kochelsee. Between these two there is a difference in height on 240 meters, and between the lakes there is a power plant utilizing the difference in height between these two lakes. A scenic area worth a stop. The road between the two seas was used in the past for the motor and motorcycle race. Today, the 9 km long road with 14 turns is popular with both car and motorcycle enthusiasts. Especially on weekends in the summer you can meet many great vehicles on this route.
To the north of these lakes we find the old monastery Benediktbeuern. Since the year 739 there has been a monastery here, and it is still in operation both as a monastery and theological university. The monastery is open to visitors and there is guided tour every afternoon. Then we arrive at Bad Tölz, an ancient city divided into two of the Isar river. On the east side is the picturesque old town, with narrow streets, beautifully decorated houses and lively shops and markets. In the spring of May-June there is a large garden and rose festival, and in November Leonhardifahrt is organized, a procession of richly decorated horses and wagons.
From Bad Tölz the road goes along the banks of Isar before it again turns north and east towards several beautiful lakes. One of them is Tegernsee. Especially interesting for Norwegians is the Olaf Gulbransson Museum, located in the city of Tegernsee. Gulbransson is particularly famous for his caricatures and book illustrations, and is considered Norway's best cartoonist. 30, he moved to Germany in 1902 and stayed there at Tegernsee until his death in 1958. It is easy to understand that Gulbransson enjoyed this. A scenic area of water surrounded by high mountains, definitely worth a small stay. Feel free to combine a boat ride on the lake or a hike in the hill.
Further on our journey on the Deutsche Alpenstrasse we drive through the beautiful Inntal, which has its name after the River Inn which passes through the valley on its way from St Moritz in Switzerland, via Innsbruck and until it flows into the Danube at Passau. Then we approach Chiemsee, Bavaria's largest lake. Before going to the sea, a trip with Kampenwandseilbahn is recommended, a gondola course that takes you up to a plateau about 1500 moh. From there you have a beautiful panoramic view of the Alps and Chiemsee. This is the perfect base for a hike or you can enjoy a nice meal at the restaurant at the top.
In Chiemsee we find the island of Herreninsel, which houses what could be former King Ludwig's most spectacular castle. Since it was not possible to build a copy of Versailles at Linderhof, he decided to build it on the property of a former monastery on this island. Due to the king's early death, the project was never completed. Only the main building, Neues Schloss, was listed as part of the park. Neues Schloss surpasses the pattern in Versailles in several ways. Not only is it larger, but because it is built 200 years later it is also more modern with, inter alia, inlay water. Only 20 of the total 70 room in the castle was completed and now stands as a monument to an eccentric king.
A few kilometers south of Chiemsee we reach Reit im Winkl. Also a famous name for those who accompany skiing. The area is close to the border with Austria, and the story tells Reit im Winkl to be omitted when the borders were stretched after the Napoleonic wars in 1815. In order to determine what kingdom this "nobody's land" belonged, the kings of Tyrol, Bavaria and Salzburg met. They agreed to settle it with card games, and the King of Bavaria won the game with the roster. Therefore, in several places in the city, you can see the traffic jam as a symbol. Also this area is suitable for excursions, either on foot or by bike. At Seegatterl, a little east of the city, you can park in a car park near the gondola which takes you to Winklmoos Alm, which is a great starting point for trips. From Reit im Winkl there is also a curation to visit other famous places like Kitzbühel, Grossglockner and Zell am See. Further east on the route you pass Ruhpolding and Inzell, also known winter sports venues.
Then we approach Königssee, which is the terminal for the Deutsche Alpenstrasse, but first we have to go through Berchtesgaden, a very special place with a dark history. Obersahlsberg with Kehlsteinhaus was the Nazi headquarters during the world war. Before we finish we can also take a round on the Rossfeld Panoramastrasse. A round trip on 15,4 km with a height difference of approximately 1100 meters. There are several viewpoints along the road with views in several directions. The road is a bombway, and it costs 8 Euro. The road is wide and nice, but with up to 13% increase it is not recommended with a caravan on tow. In the 60 century there was often a car and motorcycle race on the road, and every autumn there is now a historic parade race here.
From Berchtesgaden to Königssee there are about 5 km, and there is a campsite just before you reach the sea. By the way, I have not taken other campsites or car parks, but there are many of them along the route. As such, it's not hard to find a place to stay where it suits you and your pace. I recommend downloading the Campercontact app on your smartphone or tablet, where you will find most of the info about current places. On the website http://www.deutsche-alpenstrasse.de/ You will find further information about the route. Of course, it is also possible to drive the opposite way to what I have described here, or just drive parts of the route. Good trip.
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