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Last updated : Nov 2009
Bavaria
Bavaria - TravelPuppy.com
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.

Upper Bavaria

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.

Bavarian Forest

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.

Nuremberg (Nürnberg), 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.

The Romantic Road

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.

Munich

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 churches.

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.

Augsburg

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 1519.

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.

Bamberg

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

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

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.

Ingolstadt

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.

Kempten

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.

Nuremberg

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.

Passau

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 architecture.

Regensberg

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.

Würzburg

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 view.

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 Site.

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.