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Click on the colored areas of the
map to access a travelogue. The colors indicate different regions of
Bavaria -- scroll down for explanation and introduction for each location. (Original
map comes from the CIA
World Factbook, inset map comes from www.entry.de)
Introduction. Bavaria was one of the
greatest places in the world. Gorgeous colorful
great Alpine scenery in the south, and charming river towns of Franconia and the
Danube valley in the north.
The food was fabulous, the beer even better, the festivals constant, and the
people were among the friendliest in Europe. It was also one of the more
prosperous of the German states, maybe that was why they are so festive and
Quite frankly, I hadn't really scratched the surface of Bavaria,
even though I had been
there more than a dozen times. The tendency among Americans visiting the
was to congregate on Bavaria's best-known locales, which were in the south
-- often using the resort double-town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen
as a base. This was a year-round locale: the winters offered snow-capped
mountains like the Zugspitze, and summers had
the beautiful flowered gardens and scenery of King Ludwig's Castles
(including Neuschwanstein, Linderhof,
and Hohenschwangau). And
of course, there was Munich -- self-proclaimed as the world's
largest town and home to the world-reknowned Oktoberfest.
But there was a lot more to Bavaria in the north that one should
not overlook. The Romantic Road, for example, stretched through western
Bavaria and connects dozens of charming little medieval towns, some of which had maintained medieval traditions. Tourists by the millions flocked to Rothenburg,
but sometimes when we didn't want the crowds there were plenty of alternatives. The
cities of Franconia, including Bamberg, were
majestic with huge colorful palaces and Cathedrals. Each town and city had
a unique history. Then, there were the cities of the Danube River and its
tributaries and canals: from the big cities of Nuremberg
and Regensburg to the small towns like Traunstein.
My "list" of places yet to visit in the region is
long, and sorting it is difficult. High among them is Coburg near the
border of Thüringen, an often-recommended palace
city in the Franconian hills; the
Chiemsee lake region (another place I visited briefly in Christmas Market
season but want to do in depth); the
Eagle's Nest (Hitler's hideout) in Berchtesgaden in the far southeast, the Allgäu
in the southwest that included the resort town of Oberstdorf; the western cities
of Kempten, Memmingen, and Landsberg am Lech; and the upper Isar and Inn River
valleys including Burghausen and Bad Toelz. Oh yeah, there was also the
Bayrischer Wald in the far east, the royal town of Bayreuth in the northeast,
and .... so on and on.
Travelogues by Region. The
coloring of the locations on the map above indicate different regions in France, as shown below.
The Koenigschloesser (6 Chapters).
Ludwig II of Bavaria was a celebrated madman for his time who loved opera and
French architecture, spending lavishly on a series of
immense and majestic palaces dotted around
southern Bavaria. The best known of them is
(pictured above), which was unfinished but unforgettable. Nearby was the castle where Ludwig
grew up, the Hohenschwangau.
Hidden away to the southeast was the Linderhof (pictured
below), a very popular draw with its fabulous gardens and artificial
grotto. On the Chiemsee was the massive unfinished palace of Herrenchiemsee which was
Ludwig's answer to Versailles. Finally, the city of Munich had in
the downtown the Nymphenburg,
Oberbayern (Upper Bavaria). The number one
tourist draw in the region
-- it is a year-round attraction for snow bunnies in the winter time and
water sports and castles in the summer. Picturesque in many ways,
both in its natural beauty and in the colorfully-painted facades of the
downtowns. Four travelogues are offered here -- Garmisch-Partenkirchen,
where most travelers base from, the famous "Top of Germany"
(pictured below) of the Zugspitze that is
by, and the gorgeous Alpine town of Mittenwald. For those of the Catholic faith, there are a couple
additional locations that ought to be on your itinerary, such as Oberammergau
that hosts the Passion Play every ten years, and the massive monastery at Ettal.
BLACK: NUREMBERG (5 Chapters).
was the site of Germany's largest Christmas Market and some of its most
recognizable structures. These included the
Kaiserburg Castle, the Frauenkirche (the Church
of Our Lady, pictured), the Lorenzkirche, and the Marriage-go-Round Fountain.
Nuremberg was truly one of the most enjoyable cities around. Separate
chapters are available on the Kaiserburg, the Sebald
district where most of the downtown festivals and markets were held, the Lorenz
district that contained most of the shopping, and the Dutzendteich
district to the southeast with the former Nazi Party Rally Grounds.
MUNICH (5 Chapters). The "world's
largest town", as it was described to me, Munich
was a true must-see for anyone
visiting the southeast. Downtown Munich had huge beautiful churches
(like the Marienkirche) and the enormous Rathaus (pictured) with its
moving figurines that signal in the hour. The travelogue is broken
out into chapters covering the Marienplatz in
the center of town, the Munich Residenz in the
north, amd the Isar River zone. The city (or huge town)
best known for its Oktoberfest
celebrations during harvest season, but its Christmas Market is also worth
The Romantic Road. Probably
the third-most popular region of Bavaria were the locations of the Romantic
Road, a stretch of roadway connecting a number of "romantic"
locations through most of Bavaria. For the purposes of this website,
on the three Bavaria cities that were particularly attractive -- the three
that still have their medieval city walls virtually completely
intact. One of them, Rothenburg ob der Tauber
(offered as a 4-chapter travelogue),
was a tourist trap of major proportions, hosting medieval celebrations
year-round, such as the Wittmontag
(White Monday) celebrations I happened on one day. The other three here
were less touristy, but still very pure -- Dinkelsbühl
being tucked away about a half-hour drive south of Rothenburg, Feuchtwangen
wes nearby on a major Autobahn intersection, and Nördlingen
with its well-preserved city wall was
Franconia. Franconia could be loosely
described as the stretch of mountains across northern Bavaria. It was
most productive wine regions, using the valleys of the Main River and its
canals and tributaries. It was also among some of the most unique and
beautiful cities apart from the Alpine regions. Included here were Bamberg
(pictured above), a lovely Cathedral town with the Dom and St. Michael's
overlooking the Regnitz canal. Aschaffenburg
and Würzburg (pictured
below) to the west are dominated by the fabulous four-towered castles overlooking the Main River
like the Marienburg Castle shown. Würzburg also had the wonderful
Residenz Würzburg that was one of the most impressive of Bavarian palaces.
Close to the Czech border lay the small town of Flossenbürg,
once the site of a Nazi concentration camp, that was preserved as a
Danube Valley. The Danube River had a
number of famous old cities dating back from Roman times.
I hit several Christmas Markets along the Danube and its tributaries,
hitting two of them sufficiently in depth to provide travelogues
here. By far, the best known city among these was Regensburg
(pictured) with its signature stone-arch Steinerne Brücke (Steiner
Bridge). Upriver from Regensburg was the city of Ingolstadt,
with its brilliant white new palace and wonderful churches. Going
the other way toward Austria were two cities near river confluences -- Straubing near the Isar and
Passau on the Inn.
Bavaria owned a little slice of the northeast coast of Lake Constance, and
what a wonderful little slice it was. First there was the fabulous island town of Lindau
Bodensee (shown) that sat at the eastern edge of Lake
Constance. Lindau was a pretty and decorative town whose marina is
marked with the beautiful Lighthouse and Lion Tower. A few miles on
the coast to the west was the little town of
Wasserburg (am Bodensee) with its Halbinsel
(half-island) that hosted a picture-perfect castle and church.
Lech, Isar, and Traun Rivers. (The Miscellaneous category). Here are three cities on
three different Danube tributaries below the Alps. First there's the Lech River city of Augsburg
(shown) which has a massive
market square and was also the home of the Fuggeree, a city-within-a-city
that was built for humanitarian purposes by its founder, Jacob Fugger.
Also included is the 800-year old city of Landshut, with
its colorful city streets and impressive castle Trausnitz overlooking the
Isar River. Then on the smaller Traun River is the little town of Traunstein
which has a very Austrian flavor.
Stories and Features:
-- "White Monday" took place the day after Pentecost at the end
of the Easter season,
and is a major celebration across the cities of the old Holy Roman
Empire. Some cities still hosted major White Monday parades, and among
the most colorful and famous was the celebration
at Rothenburg ob der Tauber, complete with medieval costumes,
traditional dance, old-time markets, and music galore!
-- This was Germany's world reknowned harvest
festival held annually in Munich.
A showcase for Bavaria's finest music, cuisine, and libation, the
Oktoberfest ran over three long weeks of rock-solid partying and
celebrating. Hundreds of thousands of Germans and other tourists flocked
there every year to try a "Maß" (liter mug) of beer and to dance
on the tables!
-- Three chapters in my seven-chapter feature
series on Christmas Markets focused
on Bavaria. One covered markets across the northern section known as Franconia, while a second focused on
Lower Bavaria along the Danube, and a
third on the ones in Upper Bavaria toward the Alps.
Links. The below links connect you to
external sites in a new window. All links are official sites sanctioned by
the national, state, or local governments unless otherwise indicated.
These links will open to the German-language home page, which will offer an icon
or link to an English-language section (normally limited content). Most of
these pages use a British or US flag icon as the link to English content, while
others will use the word "English".
Otherwise, look for "tourismus" which should link you to English-language
content. Links updated 18 January 2006.
State and Regional Links:
City and Town