| Bavaria consists of
four main tourist areas: the Bavarian Forest and
East Bavaria, Swabia and the Allgäu
in the southwest, Upper Bavaria in the south, and
Franconia to the north. The state offers varying
landscapes with towering mountains in the Alpine south, lakes, forests
and many resorts.
In the Upper Bavaria region the best-known places include Garmisch-Partenkirchen,
Berchtesgaden, Mittenwald and Oberammergau,
home of the Passion Play. One of the most spectacular feats of architecture,
epitomising the fairytale landscape of Bavaria is Neuschwanstein
Castle, built by Ludwig II. Constructed on the ridge of
a mountain valley surrounded by snow-capped peaks, it is a vision
from fairyland, while at night it changes into the perfect home
for Count Dracula.
The vast Bavarian Forest is in the east, bordering the Czech Republic,
and contains the first German National Park. This unspoiled and
peaceful region offers outdoor activities, especially walking.
Historic towns such as the three-river town of Passau
and 2000-year-old Regensburg provide interesting
contrasts to the nature reserves. The northern part of Bavaria,
Franconia, is rich in art treasures.
The main attractions include medieval and historic old towns such
as Coburg, home of Prince Albert, the cathedral
town of Bamberg, Bayreuth, which
stages the annual Wagner Opera Festival, and Würzburg,
with its world-famous Baroque palace, set on the River Main among
the Franconian vineyards.
the main city in this region, is a modern metropolis, yet the centre
of the town has retained its traditional style. The many valleys,
forests, lakes and castles of the ‘Swiss’ Franconian
area and the Fichtel Mountains, combined with the
nature reserves in the Altmühl Valley, make
Franconia a popular holiday centre.
Connecting the northern area of Bavaria with the south is the most
famous of all the German scenic roads, the Romantic Road. The towns
along the way give visitors an excellent insight into the region’s
history, art and culture.
Places of particular interest are Würzburg,
medieval Rothenburg, Dinkelsbühl
and Nördlingen, Augsburg,
founded in 15BC by the Romans; the pilgrimage church Wieskirche
in the meadows, Steingaden Abbey, and the most
popular site of all, Neuschwanstein Castle near
the village of Schwangau.
The Bavarian capital, Munich (München), is
the third-largest German city with 1.3 million inhabitants, and
is a major international arts and business centre. The 800-year-old
city has numerous museums and several fine Baroque and Renaissance
The Alte Pinakothek is home to the largest collection
of Rubens paintings in the world, directly opposite is the Neue
Pinakothek with a collection of modern paintings. Two other
galleries of note are Pinakothek der Moderne, and
the Museum der Fantasie.
The German Museum (natural science and technology)
with planetarium, a life-size coal mine and the German Transport
Centre extension, is also interesting for children.
Elsewhere in the city, motoring enthusiasts will find the BMW
(Bayerische Motorwerke) Museum dedicated to the famous
marque manufactured in Munich.
The Lenbach Gallery is located in the impressive
villa of the Munich ‘Painter Viscount’. Only a short
walk away is the Glyptothek on the Königsplatz,
housing Greek and Roman sculptures.
Other attractions include the Royal Palace and
Royal Treasury, Bavarian National Museum
and others, the Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche),
the Theatinerkirche and Asamkirche
and the Church of St Michael. The New and Old Town
Halls, and the restored Mariensäule surround the Marienplatz.
Three times during the day a large group gathers here to witness
a glockenspiel carillon depicting the Schäfflertanz.
The Olympia Park with its stadium (home of Bayern
Munich) is now a recreational area. Site of the 1972 Olympic
Games, city residents now use its facilities. Munich hosts
the best-known of all German events, the Oktoberfest beer
festival. This had its origins in 1810 when Crown Prince
Ludwig of Bavaria married Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen.
The people liked the festival so much that it became a regular feature
and now takes place annually for two weeks and the first Sunday
in October is always the last day of the festival. Munich’s
nine breweries all have their own beer tents at the event, but the
city has many famous permanent beer cellars, including the Hofbräuhaus.
The city’s artists’ colony is in the district of Schwabing
which also features shops, cafes, small theatres and market stalls
along its Leopoldstrasse.
The Englischer Garten is of the largest parks in
Europe, offers an escape from the city bustle. In the centre of
the park stands the Chinese Tower, surrounded by beer gardens. The
many theatres include the National Theatre (opera house), the Rococo
theatre built by Cuvilliés and the Schauspielhaus (playhouse).
The Nymphenburg Palace is home to a portrait gallery
and a famous collection of china. The Fasching
(carnival) season reaches its peak during February with several
balls and other festivities, but the Auer Dult, a funfair and flea
market, takes place 3 times during the year.
Founded in AD 15 by the Romans, Augsburg lies to the northwest of
Munich and was once the financial centre of Europe. It was also
the home of the Fuggers, a famous medieval aristocratic
family and great patrons of the arts. Here, in 1555, German religious
conflict during the Reformation ended following the signing of a
Peace Treaty. It also boasts the Fuggerei, the
oldest ‘council’ housing in the world, dating back to
Other attractions include the Cathedral (807 Romanesque/1320
Gothic) with 12th-century stained-glass windows and 11th-century
bronze door, St Anna’s Church (16th-century
Luther memorial), Town Hall (1615), Perlach
Tower, Baroque fountains (16/17th centuries),
City Gates (14-16th centuries), Schaezler
Palace and Rococo banquet hall (18th century)
with German Baroque gallery and an Old German gallery with paintings
by Holbein and Dürer, Maximilian Museum, Roman
Museum, and Mozart’s House.
An old imperial town Bamberg stands on 7 hills, and has many medieval
and Baroque buildings. Attractions include the Imperial
Cathedral (13th century) with famous ‘Bamberger Reiter’
sculpture, reliefs, royal tombs and Veit Stoss altar, the old Town
Hall, picturesque fishermen’s dwellings (‘Little Venice’),
the Franconian Beer Museum, Old Royal Palace, New Palace and rose
garden, and Michaelsberg Monastery.
Bayreuth is mainly famous for its Wagner Opera Festival
which takes place every year from late July to August. Other attractions,
many of which are connected with the life and works of the composer,
include the Festival Theatre (1872-1876), Villa
Wahnfried (Wagner’s home, now a museum); Wagner
Memorial (‘Chiming Museum’), Freemasons’
Museum, Wagner’s grave in the Court Gardens, the
Old and the New Palace, the former residence of the Margraves, Margraves
Opera House (largest European Baroque stage), Eremitage
(park), and the parish church. The city is also a convenient base
for excursions into the Fichtel Mountains, Oberpfälzer Woods
and the ‘Franconian Switzerland’.
Coburg Castle (13th-16th centuries), one of
the largest fortified sites in Germany, towers over this former
ducal capital. A one-time refuge of Martin Luther, it now houses
valuable collections of art, weaponry and copperplate engravings.
Ehrenburg Palace overlooks the palace square and
faces the Coburg State Theatre which provides a
centre for cultural events.
Other attractions include St Maurice’s Church
(14th-16th century), the Natural Science Museum
and Doll Museum. Nearby countryside offers Banz
Monastery, the game park at Tambach Castle
and the Rodach Thermal Spa.
Among its fine architecture dating from the 14th and 15th centuries
(the Old Town dates from the early 9th century) Ingolstadt
also numbers the Neues Schloss, now home of the Bavarian
Army Museum, among its attractions. Alte Anatomie offers
more offbeat diversions, containing the German Museum of
Medical History. The town hosts a major annual international
jazz festival held during November.
In the heart of the Allgäu holiday region
to the southwest of Bavaria, Kempten is a former Celtic and Roman
settlement, the Cambodunum Archaeological Park,
with its partial reconstruction on the original site, highlights
this heritage. Two more recent buildings, the St Lorenz
Basilica and the Residenz Palace feature
notable interiors. Museums include the Allgäu Folk
Museum and the Alpine Museum.
A quite modern city, Nuremberg (Nürnberg)
has nevertheless managed to retain much of its medieval centre.
The region’s typical red sandstone forms the fabric of the
churches of St Lawrence and St Sebald.
Attractions include the Kaiserburg Imperial Castle
with its old stables today used as a youth hostel, the City
Wall (over 5km/3 miles long) with 80 watchtowers, Dürer’s
House, Museum of Toys, Fembohaus
(municipal museum), the Post and Communications Museum
(with more than 200,000 stamps), Germanic National Museum,
German Railway Museum, Town Hall,
and the Schöne Brunnen Fountain with mechanical
clock. The international toy fair and the famous Christmas Fair,
Christkindlmarkt, also attract many visitors.
On the Austrian border at the confluence of the Danube, Inn and
Ilz rivers, Passau’s attractions include a Baroque Cathedral,
with the world’s largest church organ, Bishop’s
Palace with Rococo staircase, Oberhaus and Niederhaus
fortresses (13th-14th centuries), and Inn Quay with Italianesque
Located about 80km (50 miles) northeast of Munich,
this city can trace its roots back to the 1st century AD. Attractions
of the old episcopal city include the Cathedral, with its famous
‘Regensburger Domspatzen’ choir, St
Emmeram’s Church, the Scottish Church, Old
Chapel, Palace Niedermünster, Porta
Praetoria (North Gate), 12th-century stone bridge (the
oldest in Germany), boat trips on the Danube, Old
Town Hall with the Imperial Chamber, Palace of the Princes
of Thurn and Taxis, and museums.
The northern Bavarian town of Würzburg, about halfway between
Frankfurt/M and Nuremberg, nestles between vineyards famous for
their Bocksbeutel (specially formed bottle). The
Festung Marienberg (fortress) offers a spectacular
view over Würzburg and its numerous spires. From the 15th-century
Old Main Bridge, with its statues of the Franconian apostles of
Lilian, Totnan and Kolonat, the Romanesque Cathedral dominates the
Attractions include the Mainfränkisches Museum,
housed in the former arsenal with examples of the work of Riemenschneider
(1460-1531), and the Marienkirche, built in AD
706 and one of the oldest churches in the country.
The Baroque Castle-Palace (Residenz), former home
of the powerful Prince Bishops, was designed by Balthasar Neumann
taking Versailles as a model, is a UNESCO World Heritage
Candlelit Mozart concerts take place during the summer in the Emperor’s
Hall and the Hofgarten. The town library
and tourist information are in the Haus zum Falken (Falcon House),
which has an impressive Rococo facade.
Many wine bars, cafes and restaurants provide relaxation and diversion.
Almost the entire city centre is a pedestrian zone, only disturbed
by the passage of trams.