German Alpine Highway Attractions

The Deutsche Alpenstrasse, the development of which began in 1933, runs for some 500km/310mi from Lake Constance in the west through the Allgäu and Bavarian Alps to the Königssee in the Berchtesgadener Land, remaining within German territory all the way. It follows existing roads so far as possible, with some new sections of road at gradients never exceeding 15%.

Lindau, Germany


Immenstadt, Germany

South of Kempten, 24km/15mi up the Iller valley, lies Immenstadt (pop. 14,000), situated at the foot of the Immenstädter Horn on the German Alpine Highway (Deutsche Alpenstrasse).
In the Marienplatz, in the historic old town, is the Schloss (1620) of the Counts Königsegg-Rothenfels. The Baroque parish church of St Nicholas has fine frescoes and Gothic sculpture.
To the west of Immenstadt extends the 3km/2mi long Grosser Alpsee (water sports), under the Gschwendner Horn (1,450m/4,757ft). Part of the lake is a nature reserve.

Sonthofen, Germany

Situation and characteristics
Sonthofen, the most southerly town in Germany, lies in the wide valley of the Iller. The beauty of the surrounding country makes it a popular holiday resort both in summer and for winter sports.

Parish Church

Notable features of Sonthofen are the parish church of St Michael (rebuilt 1891), the Marktplatz, with the Old Town Hall and the New Town Hall (1952), and the Heimathaus (museum).


On a hill terrace southeast of Sonthofen looms the "Ordensburg" built by the Nazis between 1935-41. It is now occupied by an army training school.


On the eastern outskirts of Sonthofen rises the Kalvarienberg (Calvary), from which there are extensive views. At the foot of the hill is a military cemetery.


Northeast of Sonthofen is the 1,738m/5,702ft high Grünten, the "watchman of the Allgäu," with views extending from the Zugspitze to Säntis.

Oberstaufen, Germany

West of Sonthofen, on the Deutsche Alpenstrasse, is the scattered village of Oberstaufen, the most popular holiday resort in the western Allgäu. Heimatsmuseum; Bauernhofmuseum (Farm Museum) in Knechtenhofen district.

Hindelang, Germany

The eastern branch of the Deutsche Alpenstrasse leads to Hindelang, one of the best-known winter sports resorts in the Allgäu. In the district of Bad Oberdorf are the Luitpold Baths (mud baths, sulfur baths). From here there is an attractive drive on the winding Jochstrasse (fine views) to Oberjoch.

Pilgrimage Church, Wies, Germany

The Wies Church is considered a masterpiece of Bavarian Rococo and was designed by Dominikus Zimmermann (1685-1766). Zimmermann is known as one of the most brilliant members of the Wessobrunn School and lived in a small house near the church during the last ten years of his life.
The outside of the church is modest in comparison with the splendor of the decor inside. Gilded stucco, wood carvings and vividly colored frescos contrast the whitewashed walls. The church is naturally lit through magnificent windows, noted characteristics of the architect's work.
The immense cupola fresco represents the Second Coming, the Gates of Paradise and the Court of the Last Judgment with the throne of the Judge left empty. The choir decoration is not to be missed.

Oberammergau, Germany

Oberammergau, situated in a wide basin in the Ammer valley, surrounded by the foothills of the Ammergau Alps, is a popular altitude and winter sports resort, famed for its wood carving (with a state school of wood carving) and still more widely known for its Passion Play.
The wood-carving tradition goes back to the 17th century, as does the Passion Play, which was first performed in 1634. The Passion Play was instituted in fulfillment of a vow made in 1633, when the town was stricken by plague. Since then it has been performed every ten years (next in the year 2010).

The Town

Many houses in the town of Oberammergau are decorated externally with frescoes by Franz Zwirk (1748-92) in the technique known as lüftlmalerei, such as the Pilatushaus (1784; now a craft center) and the Geroldhaus (1778).

Parish Church

The sumptuous Roccoco parish church (1736-42) of Oberammergau is one of the finest creations of Josef Schmuzer; good ceiling paintings by Matthäus Günther.

Local Museum

At No. 8 in the main street of Oberammergau is the Heimatmuseum (local wood-carving, stained glass, Nativity groups).
Address: Dorfstrasse 8, D-82487 Oberammergau, Germany

Passion Play Theater

At the north end of Oberammergau is the Passion Play Theater (1930), with seating for 4,800 spectators and an open stage with the natural setting as a backdrop.
The Passion Play depicts the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. The play includes over 2,000 actors, singers and stage technicians.
Address: Passionswiese, D-82487 Oberammergau, Germany


A cabin cableway ascends the Laber (1,684m/5,525ft; view) in Oberammergau, from which it is a 15-minute walk to the Ettaler Mandl.


On the west side of Oberammergau is a chair-lift to the Kolbensattel (1,250m/4,100ft).

Ettal, Germany

Situation and characteristics
The winter sports resort of Ettal, situated in a high valley in the Ammergebirge, at the foot of the Ettaler Mandl (1,634 m/5,361ft), is famed for its Benedictine abbey. The monks produce a fragrant herb beverage (Ettaler Klosterlikör), made according to an ancient recipe.

Ettal Abbey

The Benedictine abbey of Ettal was founded in 1330 by Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian. The church, originally a Gothic structure on a centralized plan, was converted into a domed Baroque church by Enrico Zuccali between 1710 and 1726 and restored after a fire by Josef Schmuzer in 1744-52.
Features of the sumptuous interior are the fine fresco in the dome (1752), the masterpiece of J. J. Zeiller of Reutte (Tirol); six beautiful side altars by J. B. Straub (1757-62); and a famous 14th century image of the Virgin by Pisano in the tabernacle on the high altar.
In front of the church are the abbey's boarding school (until 1744 the Knights' Academy) and a grammar school.
Address: Kaiser-Ludwig-Platz 1, D-82488 Ettal, Germany

Ettaler Mandl

3km/2mi north of Ettal rises the Ettaler Mandl (1,634 m/5,361ft; 2.5-3 hours' climb from Ettal, or by cableway from Oberammergau to the Laberjoch, then 15minutes on foot).

Linderhof Palace and Park

11km/7mi west of Ettal in magnificent mountain scenery, is Schloss Linderhof, built by G. Dollmann for King Ludwig II of Bavaria, following Roccoco models (1874-78). Park, with fountains.
Address: Staatliche Verwaltung Linderhof, Linderhof 21, D-82488 Ettal, Germany

Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany


There are three routes to the summit of the Zugspitze:
The Bayerische Zugspitzbahn, built 1928-30, is a masterpiece of railroad engineering. As far as Grainau it runs on ordinary rails. From there a rack railroad goes up to the Schneefernerhaus (2,650m/8,695ft), and the final stage is a cableway (large cabins) to the summit station at 2,950m/9,680ft.
From the Eibsee a cableway (large cabins) runs direct to the summit station.
In Austria, the Tiroler Zugspitzbahn, a cableway, takes its passengers up to the summit ridge from Obermoos, near Ehrwald (23km/14mi by road from Garmisch; frontier crossing).
The summit
The upper station of the Bayerische Zugspitzbahn is on the eastern summit. The platform on the top of its tower is the highest point in Germany (2,966m/9,731ft). On the nearby western summit (2,963m/9,722ft) are the Münchner Haus (1897) and a weather station. On the eastern summit is a gilded iron cross (2,962m/9,718ft) This is only for those with a good head for heights.
The Zugspitze is known to have been climbed by surveyors in 1820, but was probably climbed earlier by local people. From the summit there are magnificent views in all directions - to the south the Central Alps, from the Hohe Tauern to Silvretta, with Furchetta (Dolomites) to the rear, and Ortler and Bernina; to the west the Lechtal and Allgäu Alps, with Tödi and Säntis in the distance; to the north the Alpine foreland with its lakes; to the east Karwendel, the Tegernsee and the Kitzbühel Alps, the Watzmann and Dachstein.
The Schneefernerhaus stands on the northern edge of the Zugspitzplatt, the highest skiing area in Germany (, with the best snow. There are several ski-lifts.


Situation and characteristics
The beautiful Tegernsee (6.5km/4mi long, up to 1.5km/1mi wide, 72m/236ft deep), surrounded by a ring of hills with forest and Alpine meadows reaching high up their slopes, is one of the most popular altitude resorts and winter sports areas in Upper Bavaria. Round the lake are a series of little towns and villages offering good bathing and facilities for a variety of water sports.


The chief place on the Tegernsee is the little town of the same name on the lake's east side, with a Schloss which belonged to Duke Ludwig Wilhelm of Bavaria, a remnant of a Benedictine abbey founded in the eighth century, once a great center of culture, which was dissolved in 1803. The original Romanesque church (with an 11th C. crypt) was remodeled in Baroque style in 1684-94 and given a new facade by Klenze in 1820.
To the east of the Town Hall lies the Kurgarten, in which is the Olaf Gulbransson Museum.

Bad Wiessee

Beautifully situated on the west side of the Tegernsee is Bad Wiessee, with two productive mineral springs containing iodine and sulfur (drilled in 1909 and 1930) which are used in bathing, drinking and inhalation cures. The little town is in two parts - Wiessee-Nord, with the spa facilities and the Protestant church (1937), and Wiessee-Süd, with the prominently situated Roman Catholic church (1926).


On the southeastern shores of the Tegernsee is the double town of Rottach-Egern, in the center of which stands its Late Gothic church (1466), topped by a slender tower. In the churchyard in Egern are the graves of the writers Ludwig Ganghofer (1855-1920) and Ludwig Thoma (1867-1921), the composer Heinrich Spoerl (1877-1955), the singer Leo Slezak (1873-1946) and Olaf Gulbransson (1873-1958), whose son built the Protestant church in Egern (1955).


There is a cableway up the Wallberg (1,722m/5,650ft; views).


The village of Gmund, at the northern tip of the Tegernsee, has a parish church of 1688.


7km/4.5mi east of the Tegernsee, surrounded by hills, lies a smaller lake, the Schliersee (2.5km/1.5mi long, up to 1.3km/1,400yds across, 37m/121ft deep). This is a popular holiday and winter sports area and a good base for walks and climbs in the hills.
At the northern tip of the lake is the little town of Schliersee, with a Baroque parish church (1714; fine interior), a 15th C., Town Hall (rebuilt 1920) and a Heimatmuseum.
The best view of the lake is to be had from the Weinbergkapelle above the parish church.


From the south end of the Schliersee the beautiful Spitzingstrasse (views) crosses the Spitzingsattel to the Spitzingsee, the smallest and highest of the three lakes.


From the Schliersee the Deutsche Alpenstrasse runs southeast to the altitude resort and winter sports center of Bayrischzell (fine Baroque church), surrounded by the peaks of the Wendelstein, the Kleiner Traithen and the Seeberg. The nearby Sudelfeld is a popular skiing area.


The Wendelstein (1,838ft/6,030ft), to the north of Bayrischzell, can be ascended either by mountain railroad or on foot (2.5 hours). In the summit area (extensive views) are a chapel (1718), a solar observatory and broadcasting transmitters.

Berchtesgaden, Germany

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