Category Archives: Germany

Nuremberg: Top Seven Places To Visit in the Old City

Nuremberg is a city filled with top-notch cultural, historic, and culinary sites. There’s so much to do in the city that Germans call “Nurnberg”, you might have a difficult time planning an itinerary. Don’t worry! I’ve done the on-site and online research for you. Here’s my list of the top seven places to visit in Nuremberg.

 

 

Nuremberg7. Craftsmen’s Courtyard (Handwerkerhof)

Although it looks medieval, the Craftsmen’s Courtyard was built in 1971 as a collection of half-timbered structures to house artisan’s shops, local restaurants, and pubs. The setting evokes a feeling of walking around a medieval courtyard, albeit a very touristy one.   All of the artisans are locals, and many demonstrate their crafts for visitors inside their stops.  We really enjoyed the woodworker’s shop and the “arts and craft’s shop,” especially the latter’s Christmas items. The Craftsmen’s Courtyard is located just inside the medieval city walls next to the Frauentor, one of four towers that once served as an entrance to the city. This website has a nice map of the courtyard and a list of the stores.

 

6. St. Lawrence Church (Lorenzkirche)

Nuremberg LorenzkircheLocated on Konigstrasse, the main pedestrian street in the old city, St. Lawrence Church was completed in 1477, and the main attraction here lays inside, suspended above the choir in front of the high altar. The Angelic Salutation is a carved wooden sculpture of the Annunciation of Mary, created by the German artist Veit Stoss inNuremberg Angelic Salutation 1518. When seeing it for the first time, my initial thought was: “Wow! That’s made out of wood?!” The sculpture portrays the angel Gabriel bringing the news to the Virgin Mary that she is bearing the child Jesus. Surrounding the pair smaller angels ringing bells to joyously announce the news and medallions portray scenes from the life of Mary and Jesus. Be sure to walk around to the back to see the cascade of Mary’s hair and depictions of the sun and moon. During the Protestant reformation, many religious works of art were destroyed, but the Angelic Salutation was saved and preserved as it was seen as the private property of the Tucher family who paid for its creation. This amazing piece has remained on display for generations and provided artistic and spiritual inspiration to countless worshipers and visitors.

 

Nuremberg Hauptmarkt5. Hauptmarkt of Nuremberg

The Hauptmarkt is the main market square in the old city in Nuremberg. It’s located on Konigstrasse immediately in front of the Frauenkirche. All year long, the square is alive with vendors selling fresh fruits, beautiful flowers, souvenirs, and tasty treats. During the holiday season, the Hauptmarkt hosts Germany’s largest Christmas market. No matter the season, take a stroll around the square and sample the local produce and delicacies. Then walk across the Hauptmarkt to take a look at the gilded 14th centuary “Beautiful Fountain” (Schoner Brunnen). The fountain is built in the shape of a spire, and each level features significant people in history such as Moses, King Arthur, Julius Caesar, King David, and Charlemagne. You’ll also likely spot people turning two rings mounted to the fountain. Local legends states that spinning either of these brass rings brings the person good luck. Go ahead and give it a whirl. It definitely couldn’t hurt!

4. Tanner’s Lane

Nuremberg Tanner’s LaneFor one of the two best photo opportunities in the city, head over to Tanner’s Lane (Weissgerbergasse). Walk down the street until you reach house #35 and then turn around. In front of you are the best collection of half-timbered houses to survive the bombing of World War II.   If you look carefully, you’ll notice that many houses feature a dark red colors in their beams. It’s oxen blood! Soaking the lumber in the blood of this work animals helps to prevent rot and termite damage. Take a photo and be sure to put that information in the caption to get everyone’s attention!

 

For another fun sight, cross the street and walk through the beer garden (Biergarten Kettensteg) to find the old iron footbridge (dated 1824) in Europe. It’s a chain bridge that allows pedestrians to cross over the river Pegnitz. The bridge has no particular name, so locals simply call it the pedestrian bridge (Steg) with chains (Ketten). Take a walk across just so you can say that you’ve crossed the oldest iron footbridge in Europe!

 

 

3. The Best Photo Opportunity in Nuremberg

NurembergFor the best photo opportunity in Nuremberg, go across the Nurembergchain bridges (as described above) and cross the island of Kettensteg. After you’ve crossed two bridges, take a left to walk up Pegnitzstufer which runs alongsidethe river. You’ll catch glimpses (and some nice photos) of the river and small waterfalls.   You’ll be dumped onto a wider street called Untere Kreuzgasse. Take a right and walk up to the next major street, where you’ll take a left onto a bridge called Maxbrucke. Stop in the middle of the bridge and look down the river to see what is, in my opinion, the best view in town. What could be more picturesque than a medieval water tower, a covered bridge, the largest half-timber buildings in the city (a former hospital and wine cellar) and weeping willow trees, all in one photo!

 

 

2. The Imperial Castle (Kaiserburg) of Nuremberg

Nuremberg Imperial Castle From 800 to 1806, Germany was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperors. Germany did not exist as a country but was rather divided into kingdom, duchies, principalities, counties, free imperial cities, and other domains, each of which having their own rulers. The Holy Roman Emperor, unlike other monarchs, was elected by the highest ranking nobles, called prince-electors, of the land. The emperor also has no capital city, but instead, travelled throughout the empire to hold court and dispense justice, staying at various castles in larger cities. Being a free imperial city and an economic powerhouse, the Imperial Castle at Nuremberg was one of those castles at which the Holy Roman Emperors spent time. A visit to the castle is a fascinating look back in time to understand how the Holy Roman Empire worked and how the emperors lived. A self guided tour will take you into recreated chambers used by the royal court where you’ll encounter both traditional displays and state of the art interactive multimedia terminals that allow you to explore topics to whatever depth of information you prefer. My fiancée, who isn’t nearly as interested in history as am, spent a great deal of time using the terminals and commented on how engaging they were. After your tour inside the castle, take a walk around the castle grounds for some great photos and be sure to check out the incredible city view from the front ramparts. When purchasing admission, I wouldn’t waste my money buying tickets to see the Deep Well. It’s not worth your money or time.

 

1. Eat at Bratwursthausle

You’re probably wondering why I choose a restaurant at my number one choice of what to do in Nuremberg. A visit here Nurembergwill explain exactly why. Bratwursthausle is a wonderful restaurant to enjoy the local Germany cuisne during all seasons of the year. If you’re visiting during warmer weather, be sure to sit outside on the lovely, street-side patio. If it’s too cold to site outside, enjoy the cozy interior that makes you feel like you’re eating in a big, old farmhouse. Whatever the case, you must order the local sausage, the tiny Nurnberger Bratwurst. Little Nurnbergers are my fiancée and mine favorite German sausage.   At Bratwursthausle, they’re made in house by the restaurant’s butchers and are cooked over an open, beechwood fire. You can order them in groups of 6, 8, 10, or 12, and with traditional Germany side dishes such as sauerkraut, potato salad, pretzels and more.   The restaurant has other items on the menu, but you absolutely must order Nurnbergers! Ever since eating them for the first time at Bratwursthausle, we continue to eat them at our local German sausage shop in Massachusetts. They’re absolutely delicious and are my favorite memory of Nuremberg!

Want dessert? Head over to Gelateria 4D on Konigstrasse. You’ll recognize it by the long lines of patrons and long counter of countless flavors.

 

Locations

Click on the map below to open up a Google My Maps with all of the locations above marked.

The Craftsmen’s Courtyard (Handwerkerhof) is the located Am Königstor.

St. Lawrence Church (Lorenzkirche) is located at Lorenzer Platz 1.

Hauptmarkt is located at Neumarkt.

Tanner’s Lane is located at Weissgerbergasse.

Maxbrucke is located at Maxbrucke.

The Imperial Castle is located at Burg 13.

Bratwursthausle is located at Rathausplatz 1.

 

 

 

 

 

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St. Goar: Explore Ruined Rheinfels Castle and Go Cuckoo Over Clocks and Steins

St. Goar, or Sankt Goar, is a small tourist town dominated by a huge, ruined castle, located on the west bank of the Rhine River in an area known as the Romantic Rhine Valley. The town is named after a monk who converted local people to Christianity and constructed a hospice and chapel, making the town a pilgrimage site. Today, tourists, rather than pilgrims, trek to St. Goar to partake in the great local shopping, pass the time in sidewalk cafes, and explore the ruined castle.

 

St. GoarMy favorite cuckoo clock shop and stein shop in all of Germany are both located on the main pedestrian street in St. Goar. The Montag family runs both stores, and you definitely can’t miss them. Look for the tourists taking pictures under the largest free-hanging cuckoo clock in the world. That’s the cuckoo clock store, and immediately across the street, you’ll spot the large beer stein sign of the other shop. Even if you’re not a fan St. Goarof cuckoo clocks or steins, stop into both for an impressive introduction to two authentically German traditions. The staff are incredibly friendly and helpful and delight in telling you all about their wares. In the stein shop, you’ll be amazed by the variety of German beer mugs. We were warmly greeted by one of the Montag brothers who taught us how to recognize quality Germany steins over foreign-made cheap alternatives and informed us about the decoration of the different types of beer mugs. You’ll see steins depicting various cities, countries, hobbies, professions, holidays, and more. We left with a Christmas present for my fiancée’s father.  Across the street, one of the Montag sisters told us about the history behind the cuckoo clocks, which are made in the Black Forest. We couldn’t help but bring home a cuckoo clock for ourselves! The Montag family securely packs both clock and steins and ships them overseas to any country.  We received ours less than two weeks after our trip.

 

After a bit of shopping, you’ll need a treat to re-energize. Stop into Café St. Goar for a huge slice of the most delicious St. Goarstrudel that we had in all of Germany. I scarfed down the mixed berry, and my fiancée devoured the rhubarb. The café also features many other types of desserts as well as pretzels and light lunches. Across the street, they have a lovely sidewalk seating area with table service. Don’t visit St. Goar without stopping here for strudel!

 

Kids and adults alike will love exploring the ruins of Rheinfels Castle, which towers over St. Goar. To get up to the castle, you can hike about 15 minutes, board a small “tourist train” (that usually waits for customers near the Catholic Church), or take a short taxi ride. If you’re hiking, walk up the main pedestrian street, and just after the tourist information center, turn onto a street named Scholossberg, and then take a right onto another street named Bismackweg. At the fork in Bismarkckweg, stay left, and at the end, you’ll find the steps leading up to the short hike to the castle.

 

St. GoarBuilt in 1245, Rheinfels Castle (Burg Rheinfels) was designed to protect the St. Goar tax collectors.   After the construction of another castle immediately across the river, the local rulers were able to block the river valley and levy a tax on all traders passing through.   That’s why all of the Rhine castles were built . . . money, money, money!  When the castle passed into the hands of the House of Hesse, Burg Rheinfels was heavily developed and impressive fortifications were added, making it one of the largest and strongest fortresses in Germany.   In 1796, armies of the French Revolutionary government captured and blew up parts of the castle, which is why it remains in ruins today.   Evens in ruins, the Burg Rheinfels is quite impressive and fun to explore. Be advised that, starting in 2017, parts of the castle are undergoing renovations, so the outer fortifications can only be explored via guided tour, which is included in the price of admission.   However, Rheinfels Castleyou can explore the inner parts of the castle on your own. Start in the museum that has exhibits (with English descriptions) on the castle and local history and has models of the castle, to give you a sense of what it was once like. Then explore the remainder of the ruins. Don’t Rheinfels Castlemiss the incredible view of the Rhine from the highest tower. While you’re up there, take a look around you and remember that the castle was once five times as large as it is now. It’s a reminder of the tremendous importance that Burg Rheinfels played in shaping local history and in making the town of St. Goar the lovely tourist stop that it is today.

 

Locations

St. Goar is located along the stretch of the river known as the Romantic Rhine, approximately  minutes south of Koblenz or 80 minutes west of Frankfurt.  It makes an easy day trip from either of those cities, especially if you’re flying in or out of Frankfurt Airport. Click on the map below for driving directions.

A visit to St. Goar can also be combined with excursions to:

 

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Oberwesel: A Medieval Walk on the Walled and Wined Side

OberweselWalking through the walls and into the market square of Oberwesel, it’s clear why visitors are drawn to this quaint town. Locals take great pride in preserving the precious medieval architecture, for which their town is famous, and in keeping up their long-standing traditions. For example, if you’re visiting during the spring or summer, you can’t help but notice theOberwesel giant wine chalice in market square. The chalice represents the importance of Riesling wine to the region’s economy and culture. Each year, the community elects a “wine witch” who emerges from the chalice as that year’s ambassador for the area’s vintners. The tradition of the “wine witch” dates back to much earlier days when “witches’ fires” were lit in the spring on the banks of the river and in the mountains to scare away the winter demons and, supposedly, improve the quality of the local wines. Each year in Oberwesel, the tradition continues with the election of a new “wine witch” and a community-wide festival. Even if you’re not visiting during the festivities, Oberwesel’s market square features many tourist-friendly cafes and wine bars where you can enjoy the bountiful fruits of the region, including its famous Riesling wine.

 

OberweselThe other reason that visitors come to Oberwesel is to see the best-preserved medieval town walls and towers in the Rhine Valley. However, don’t just take my word for it. An expert in medieval fortifications stated: “Of all the Middle Rhine town fortifications, those in Oberwesel are the most extensive, the proudest and the best preserved”, and a government agency in charge of historical Oberweselpreservation stated that Oberwesel’s walls and towers “number amongst the most significant and best preserved medieval fortifications in the entire Federal Republic of Germany. “ In other words, if you’re in the Rhine River Valley, you absolutely must go to Oberwesel to see its walls and towers. As a historian, I’ve seen many walled cities and towns, but I was truly impressed and enamored by those in Obserwesel. Walking along the town walls on the riverside is simply enchanting. One of my most vivid memories of Germany is looking across a sea of lavender to see the eight-sided Oschenturm (Ox) Tower towering above a ballet-like bend in the boat-filled Rhine River. While exploring the cobbled streets and circling the medieval walls, you’ll experience many similar moments of serenity and awe.

 

OberweselAfter a break at a café or wine bar in the market square, it’s time for a stroll along the oldest stretch of walls and towers in the rear of town. Even if you think you’re “all walled out”, it’s not to be missed! To reach this area, pick up a map at the tourist information office in market square or take a picture of any map publicly posted around town. Exploring the rear walls and towers is like a peaceful walk through the countryside. You may even Oberweselcome across some friendly local horses, like we did.  If you don’t have an equine encounter, you’ll still get to see several of the town’s 16 amazing, original medieval towers that have survived to the present. Can you find the one with the drawbridge? It’s now a private residence! If you’ve been dreaming of living in a medieval castle, I’ve got a deal for you. The town council will rent you a tower for Oberwesel100 years for only one Euro! What’s the catch, you ask? You just have to fund the tower’s renovation. If you decide to take up residence in an Oberwesel tower, be sure to send me an invite! I make a mean schnitzel. Continuing along the rear wall walk, you’ll catch views of the former moat and of historic Schonburg Castle, which now houses a restaurant, hostel, and small museum.   Finish up your walk with a visit to the lovely Town Wall Gardens, a gift from a local who used his wealth to start a foundation to beautify his town for generations. Like his gift to the residents of Oberwesel, a visit here will you provide you with vivid memories of medieval German splendor for years to come.

 

Location

Oberwesel is located in an area known as the “Romantic Rhine”.  It’s an hour and a half drive from Frankfurt, and therefore, makes for an easy day trip if you’re flying in or out of that airport.  Click on the map for specific driving directions to Oberwesel.  A visit to Oberwesel can also be combined with excursions to:

 

 

 

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Bacharach: The Most Romantic Town on the Rhine River

BacharachBacharach is, in my opinion, the most romantic town in the Rhine River Valley, and for that reason, I chose to propose to my fiancée there. Surrounded by medieval town walls and towers, hillside vineyards, and sweeping river views and dominated by a hilltop castle, Bacharach oozes sleepy, old world charm.

 

Bacharach

Altes Haus

In the Middle Ages, Bacharach was a strategically important and wealthy town due to its location and function as a transfer station for the wine and timber trade. However, in the 1700’s, when the harbor silted up, much of the trade moved elsewhere, and the town became a backwater, gradually falling into disrepair. In the 19th century, Bacharach was saved by the re-discovery of the Rhine River Valley by artists and writers who began to extol the romantic virtues of the local river towns in their works. Perhaps the most famous Romantic Era writer to visit Bacharach was Victor Hugo, the French author and poet. In his book, Rhine Travels, Hugo called Bacharach a “fairytale town, swarming with stories and legends”. The works of Romantic authors, writers, and artists, like Hugo, glorified the past and nature, especially anything from the medieval age. As Romanticism swept through Europe, visitors, eager to experience for themselves the aesthetics of riverside German towns trapped in time, added the Rhine River Valley to their grand tours of the continent. As a result, local organizations began to restore and preserve historically important sites such as Bacharach’s town walls, towers, and castle. Today, due to their efforts, we can still explore and marvel at these treasures.

 

Bacharach

Posthof

The best introduction to Bacharach is a walk along its restored, 14th century medieval town walls.  You’ll pass by and through several of the towns original gatehouses, including the famous Market Tower, named after the square below that once bustled with the town’s local market. Other towers along the walk once featured cranes, which moved wine barrels from smaller ships, which were necessary to navigate the precious cargo through dangerous parts of the river, to larger ships to continue their voyage up the Rhine. Towers like these are a reminder that at one time, the harbor allowed vessels to moor alognside the town walls. Continuing along you’ll pass by many hotels and B&Bs that are located in the former homes of Bacharach’s wealthy merchant class. You’ll also enjoy sweeping views of the Rhine River and the boat traffic along its curvy path. Consider taking a short cruise along the river to enjoy the scenery of riverside towns, hillside vineyards, and medieval castles. Cruise ships dock right in Bacharach, and travelers can use them to explore towns both north and south along the Rhine.

 

Bacharach

view from the tower

 

But first, descend down into the town’s center to take in the medieval views. Timber-framed buildings dominate the Bacharachsquare. One is if the Posthof, which you can easily spot by looking for its golden postal horn sign. In days gone by, the postman would blow such a horn as a warning to townspeople to move aside as the mail sped through on horseback and, later, by stagecoach. Today, the Posthof is restaurant and café with lovely courtyard. On the other side of the square, is the oldest structure in town: Altes House (1368) with its stone first floor and upper timber stories, featuring small, circular, restored molten lead windows. Today, Altes House is a charming restaurant with a medieval interior, delicious German fare, and reasonable prices. We enjoyed a wonderful meal here on the evening of our engagement.

 

Bacharach

Tall Tower and surrounding vineyards

The most romantic view of town is from a medieval tower located in the hillside vineyards. To get there, follow Rosenstrasse to a tiny, stepped lane behind a well. Follow the lane into the vineyard and up to a stucco and timber tower called, simply, the Tall Tower. Climb up three flights to see the incredible view. From the tower, you can look out onto the entire town. Perched high atop the hill is Stahlech Castle, which was once a home to the Electors of the Palatinate and, later, the famous Wittelsbach family, but now houses hostel travelers. Below it lays the remains of the Wernerkapelle, an unfinished Gothic chapel which fell victim to falling rocks when besieging French forces blew up the castle during the Thirty Years War. The romantic ruins of the Wernerkapelle drew artists, authors, and poets to the region and put Bacharach back on the tourist trail in the 1800’s. Like the artists and poets that came before you, take some time to savor the extraordinary landscape. After reading about and seeing photographs of the view from the tower, I chose to propose to my, now, fiancée on the third floor. We had the place completely to ourselves. After taking in the view and breathing deeply to calm my nerves, I dropped to one knee, held out a watch that I had secretly stashed away in my backpack all day, and asked him to marry me. He said yes, and with tears streaming down our cheeks, we basked in the moment and in the romantic views before us.  Bacharach will forever hold a special place in our hearts, and a visit will to this fairy tale town will most certainly win you over too.

 

Location

Bacharach is located along the stretch of the river known as the Romantic Rhine, approximately 30 minutes south of Koblenz or one hour west of Frankfurt.  It makes an easy day trip from either of those cities, especially if you’re flying in or out of Frankfurt Airport.  A visit to Bacharach is easily combined with excursions to any of the following:

 

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Neuschwanstein: How and When to Go to Beat the Crowds

Neuschwanstein Castle is mobbed by tourists, especially during the summer months. Follow my suggestions about how and when to go to make your visit stress free.

 

Neuschwanstein: How and When to Go: Most Important Things to Know

 

  1. The most important thing to know about how and when to visit Neuschwanstein is to arrive when the site opens at 8:00AM (summer) or 9:00AM (winter). By 10:00, hordes of tourists and dozens of tour buses begin to Neuschwansteinarrive on site. You do not want to be there then.  It’s work getting out of bed early, trust me!

 

  1. The second most important thing to know about how and when to visit Neuschwanstein is to reserve your tickets online at least a month or two (preferably earlier) in advance.   The reservation process asks you which date and time that you’d like to visit, but that date and time may not be the one that you actually receive. So the earlier you reserve, the more likely you’ll get the date and time you want.  You must reserve tickets at least 2 days ahead of time online, but if you wait that long, tickets may not be available, especially during the summer.  So book as far in advance as possible! To make reservations, visit the reservations page by clicking here.

 

Neuschwanstein: How and When to Go: Picking Up Your Tickets

Neuschwanstein

 

  1. You must pick up your tickets at the Ticket Center on the day of your tour no later than one hour before the entry time that you have reserved. If you don’t pick-up the tickets on time, you’ve given up your reserved time. In that case, they might give you a later entrance time, if there is one available.

 

  1. In the ticket center, go to the line for reserved tickets.

 

 

Neuschwanstein: How and When to Go: Going Up to the Castles

 

  1. From the Ticket Center, Hohenschwangau is an easy 10 minute walk.

 

  1. To get to Neuschwanstein, you have several options:
  • Hike 30 minutes
  • Take the shuttle bus, which departs every few minutes from the shuttle bus stop, located near the Ticket NeuschwansteinCenter. The shuttle bus will drop you off at Mary’s Bridge. From there, it’s a 10 minute walk downhill to the castle.
  • Take a much slower horse-drawn carriage ride up to the castle
  • Be aware that if you arrive at 10:00AM or later, the shuttle bus and carriages rides may have long lines. If there’s a long line and it’s less than one hour until your entry time, you should probably do the 30 minute hike.

 

  1. Once you’re at Neuschwanstein, go into the courtyard. When your entrance time comes up on the board, push (nicely) through the crowd and go to the turnstile.

 

 

Neuschwanstein: How and When to Go: What to See

 

  1. If you want to take pictures of Neuschwanstein, the best view is from Mary’s Bridge.

 

  1. The tour of Neuschwanstein is approximately 30 minutes, and the tour group is made up of approximately 60 people. If you’re only going to tour one castle, this is the most memorable choice.

 

  1. The tour of Hohenschwangau is also 30 minutes, but the group is made up of approximately 40 people.

 

  1. If you want to tour both castles, you should do Hohenschwangau first, as it gives you a better overview of King Ludwig II’s life and his family background. You’ll be given an entry time for Hohenschwangau, and then, two hours later, another entry time for Neuschwanstein. Reserve (online) the earliest tour of the day.
Hohenschwangau

Hohenschwangau Castle

  1. If you only want to tour Neuschwanstein, reserve (online) the first tour of the day, so you can be in and out of the site before the hordes of tourists arrive.

 

  1. Alternatively, visit Neuschwanstein and/or Hohenschwangau to take pictures only. Arrive at 8:00AM (summer), when the site opens, take the shuttle bus to Mary’s Bridge, and take your photos. When I was there at 8:00AM, we were one of the first few people on Mary’s Bridge.  If you don’t have tickets, don’t bother walk up into the castle courtyard, as there’s little there to photograph.

 

 

Neuschwanstein: How and When to Go: Parking and Getting There

Neuschwanstein

  1. Be aware that signs along the local roads refer to the castle as Konigsschlosser, not Neuschwanstein.

 

  1. Consider staying overnight in the nearby town of Fussen so that you can arrive at the castles early. Fussen is located only 10-15 minutes from the castles. See my guide “Fussen: A Guide to Your Home Base for Exploring Southern Bavaria” for more information.

 

  1. For detailed driving directions, click on the map below.

Neuschwanstein

  1. The most convenient parking lot is located past the Ticket Center on your right.

 

  1. After parking, go to the Ticket Center immediately to pick up your tickets. See the section above.

 

Nearby Attractions

Here are my guides to attractions that you can add to your itinerary in southern Bavaria:

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Wieskirche: A Little Piece of Heaven in Bavaria

WieskircheThe Swabian poet Peter Dörfler described the Wieskirche as “a bit of heaven”, and a visit to the church will make surely make you wholeheartedly agree.  Upon entering the Wieskirche (Pilgrimage Church of Weis), I was astonished by its beauty and opulence. Everywhere you look from the ornate altar to the frescoed ceiling is dripping with Rococo decoration. What’s the reason for this elaborate church in what seems like the middle of nowhere? Let me tell you.

 

In 1738, a local family brought a wooden statue of the Scourged Christ Wieskirchefrom a Germany abbey, which was no longer using it, to their farm in the village of Wies. They placed the statue in their bedroom as an object to which they could make their daily devotions. On July 14, 1738, the statue supposedly shed tears during the family’s prayers.  As word of the miracle spread, pilgrims Wieskirchebegan journeying to Wies to see the statue, and in 1740, the family built a small chapel (which you can still look into) to house it. In 1748, the Bishop of Augsburg set up a commission to investigate the supposed miracle, but it came to no conclusions about the supernatural event. To accommodate the increasing number of pilgrims and to house the statue, between 1745 and 1754, the current Wieskirche was constructed, and it remains today as a place of religious devotion and artistic splendor.

 

The decoration of the Wieskirche tells the story of Christ from death to Wieskircheresurrection to his triumphant return in the last of days.  On the altar, a baby Jesus is poised, as if on a cross, and looking up above the altar on the ceiling, Christ is shown whipped, chained, and crucified. The highest part of the ceiling shows a resurrected Jesus riding a rainbow, a symbol of forgiveness, and presiding over the Last Judgment.  Finally, in the rear of the church, above the organ, the door to heaven has been Wieskircheclosed, as all those who are worthy of entrance have been admitted. All of this religious artwork would have  originally designed to help pilgrims and worshipers to understand and be inspired by the story of Christ and his teachings. Even if you’re not religious, the grandeur of the Wieskirche will surely inspire your imagination and be a marvelous treat for your senses. “It is left to the opinion and assessment of each individual whether a miracle is seen more in the drops on the face of the scourged, in the consolation and the benefaction for the pilgrims, or in the grandeur of the church’s art” (1).

Location of the Wieskirche

Before going, be sure to check the church’s website, as the building is closed to tourists during worship services.

The Wieskirche (Pilgrimage Church of Weis) is located at Wies 12, 86989 in Steingaden, Germany.  Signs directing you to the church are clearly posted on roads leading to it, but you can click on the map below to obtain specific driving directions. The church lays in a scenic valley of the Bavarian Alps, making the outside of the building and its surroundings splendid and photo-worthy in themselves.

Wieskirche directions

A visit to the Wieskirche fits conveniently into any sightseeing itinerary in Southern Bavaria. The church is only a 30 minute drive from Fussen/Neuschwanstein or from Oberammergau. If you’re driving from either of those locations to Oberammegau, the Wieskirche is an easy stop.

 

 

 

 

For more information about nearby attractions, see my other guides to southern Bavaria:

 

 

 

(1) “Miracle of Tears” http://wieskirche.de/the-miracle-of-tears.en.html

 

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Zugspitze: How to Get to Germany’s Tallest Peak and What to See There

The Zugspitze is Germany’s tallest peak and, in my opinion, a must to include in your itinerary for Bavaria.  Figuring out how to get to the summit can be a daunting task because there are many options.  I’ve done all the research for you!  Zugspitze How to Get to Germany’s Highest Peak is your definitive guide to visiting this natural wonder.

 

Zugspitze How to Get There: Germany or Austria?

There are two options for getting to the top of the Zugspitze: from Austria or from Germany.  The Austrian ascent (10 minutes) to the Zugspitze is far quicker than the German one (45 minutes). However, if you have rented a car in Germany, most companies will not allow you to drive into Austria. Check with your rental car company before you do so.

 

Zugspitze How to Get There from Germany

By Car

If you’re driving, head towards the town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen.  From there, continue on to the village of Grainau. Follow the Eibseestrasse to the Eibsee Station.  Click here for driving directions to the Eibsee Station.  At the station, you’ll need to purchase tickets for the cogwheel train.  Ride the train to the Summit Station.  The train ride is approximately 45 minutes and departs every hour.  Note: the cable car from the Eibsee Station to the Summit Station is under construction (to be completed in December 2017), so visitors have to ride the cogwheel train.

By Train

Take a train to Garmisch. Purchase a combination ticket to ride to the Eibsee Station and to ride the cogwheel train to the Zugspitze.  Board the train and ride to the Eibsee Station. There, you’ll change to the cogwheel train, which you’ll ride the train to the Summit Station. The train ride to the summit is approximately 45 minutes and departs every hour.   Note: the cable car from the Eibsee Station to the Summit Station is under construction (to be completed in December 2017), so visitors have to ride the cogwheel train.

From the Summit Station To the Summit Terrace

From the Summit Station, you take a cable car to the Summit Terrace. This applies only to those taking the approach from Germany.

 

 

Zugspitze How to Get There from Austria

By Car

If you’re driving, head to the village of Obermoos.  There you’ll find the Tyrolean Zugspitze Cable Car, which will take you directly to the Summit Terrace in about 10 minutes.  Click here for driving directions to the Tyrolean Zugspitze Cable Car.

By Train

Take the train to Ehrwald and then a bus from the Ehrwald train station to the cable car lift. You could also take a taxi instead. You’ll then take a cable car directly to the Summit Terrace in about 10 minutes.

 

 

Zugspitze What to See

At the Summit Terrace

Take in the incredible views!   If you’ve ascended from Austria, you’re on the Tirolean Terrace, and if you’ve come up from Germany, you’re on the Bavarian Terrace. You can pass freely from one to the other, and each side offers different views.

On the Bavarian Terrace, you have some unique options.   First, you can see (and take pictures of) the golden cross that marks the highest point in Germany.  If you’re brave enough (I wasn’t) you can also climb up to it. There’s also a beer garden, which claims to be highest beer garden in Germany.  My guess is that it’s true!  Finally, you can descend in the cable car (free, unless you came up from Austria) to the Summit Station where there are other activities.

At the Summit Station

There are a few additional and fun activities available at the Summit Station. The station is located on a plateau, so you can wander around freely and take pictures. In the winter, skiers abound here.  However, even in summer, you can still take part in a winter activity! Grab a sled and slide down the small glacier.  It’s free and a memorable experience.  You can also visit the small wedding chapel, consecrated by a former Pope.  Finally, at the Summit Station, there’s a much larger restaurant.  Part of the restaurant is cafeteria style, where you sit indoors. The other option is outdoor seating with table service, or you can pull a stool up to the nice bar. There’s nothing quite like enjoying a meal or a drink at 8,690 feet (2,650 meters)!

 

Looking for Other Destinations in Bavaria?

I have guides to attractions nearby the Zugspitze.  Let me be your guide in Bavaria.

 

 

 

 

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