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This week I would like to introduce you to a little village on the German Alpine Road called Bayrischzell. It is very close to the Wendelstein Mountain and is often used as a base for people visiting the mountain or as a stopping off point for travellers along the German Alpine Straße. I have to admit I have a special affinity towards the Wendelstein because I can see it from my Bavarian bed – cloud permitting. So you will see it feature regularly in my blog. Bayrischzell is on the opposite side of the mountain to my bed which gives me a chance to see my bed-friend from a less familiar vantage point.
On the day I took the photographs below I approached the German Alps from the direction of the Austrian Tirol (more on that in a future blog). In addition to having lots of splendid peaks the area is full of pretty (and on a hot day very refreshing) streams many of which are good for paddling like the one below.
Like the mountains these streams have been in existence for millions of years. I am often fascinated by the shapes and patterns created as a result of erosion by the flowing water. The stream in the photograph below has cut into the rock face creating some really interesting structures.
The route I took over the Austrian border towards Germany passed through a valley which pointed all the way back to my beloved Wendelstein. In the picture below you can see the mountains gradually parting to reveal its magnificent 1,838 meter high peak.
Further along the valley in the direction of the Wendelstein I came to a junction which was the German Alpine Straße. On the opposite side of this junction was Bayrischzell. One of the first things that strikes you when you visit the village is its beautiful fire station. Just take a look at the photograph below.
I have never come across a fire-station with such beautiful frescos on the walls. The following two photos show close-up views of a couple of areas from the frescos. The first is the emblem of the local fire brigade (Feuerwehr).
The second photograph from the fresco is of a countryside scene including a milk maid and cows (with cow-bells of course – if you would like more pictures of cows with cow bells you can find them here)
To the right of the fire station a road leads into the village and past the old catholic church. Of course the Wendelstein is never far from view as shown in the next photograph.
The church has a long history. Although it was built in its present form in 1733 the altar and tower are from its period as a monastery dating back to 1075 (around the same time that the village of Duggleby was first recorded in the Domesday book – more on that here). Both the outside and inside features of the church date back to the early baroque period. Inside the church are also several beautiful frescos and Rococo stucco works from the 18th century.
As I was admiring the church something caught the corner of my eye. At first I thought it was a bird but I quickly realised it was a person gliding across the sky having presumably jumped off the Wendelstein.
There are a number of ways of getting up and down the Wendelstein but I have to admit the travel guides had not mentioned paragliding as one of them. For those interested in more conventional forms of transport there is the Wendelstein Rack Railway, the oldest rack railway in Bavaria and one of only four in operation in Germany. The train leaves from the station in the village of Brannenburg and takes 20 minutes to reach the peak (and 30 minutes to come down). From Bayrischzell there is also a cable car which was built in 1970.
There is of course another way of getting up the wendelstein; you can walk all the way. This is something the Bavarian King Max II did in three hours and as a result in 1858 a tree was planted in Bayrischzell to commemorate his royal achievement.
After going up the mountain why not relax upon your return with a visit to the village cinema? There is a really pretty cinema which, when I visited, was decorated with beautiful hanging flower baskets.
If the cinema is not your thing then there are plenty of cafes and restaurants to visit like the one below.
For special occasions every Bavarian village needs to have its own bandstand. However few have a mountain backdrop as impressive as the one below.
Hopefully I have managed to wet your appetite for paying a visit to this beautiful part of the world. Below I have included a Google map so you can easily see where Bayrischzell is in relation to other towns and transportation routes.
PS. For those interested in finding out more about the Oktoberfest (including lots of photos and a useful Bavarian-English dictionary) the ‘official’ site can be found here.
Now prepare for an uplifting experience!