Bavaria is a region in southern Germany bordered by Austria and the Czech Republic. The Danube River winds through the center and it’s home to a lot of endearing old world customs, but it has a culture that is all its own. From beer halls to architecture, the culture of Germany intertwines with Bavarian culture.
But Bavaria is like a fairy land. It has high mountains, serene lakes as big as oceans, castle ruins, enchanting castles that are still standing, charming medieval towns, quaint villages, tasty cuisine and beverages and the epic Passion Play that takes an entire town to produce.
If you want to experience the charm of Bavaria, including the Romantic Road and the Passion Play, GetAway Travel has a group trip scheduled. Give us a call today to reserve a spot or two.
Is the Romantic Road — romantic?
Why, yes, the Romantic Road IS romantic. Honestly, it is the most popular tourist destination in Germany, but GetAway Travel travel advisors will help you navigate your way to the trip you want with enough of the touristy spots to be interesting, but some other great spots, too.
Germany came up with the name and the destination in the 1950s when it was felt a little encouragement and positivity about the area was needed. It’s the scenic route from the River Main to the Alps and it really has everything.
Three walled cities
Dinkelsbühl Nördlingen and Rothenburg ob der Tauber are the three walled cities left in Bavaria and they happen to be on the Romantic Road route.
Dinkelsbühl made it through the Swedish invasion in 1632 and in 1826 King Ludwig I issued a proclamation preserving the city buildings, walls and towers. Since the late 1800s, artists from around Europe have made Dinkelsbühl their home and the city has many artist studios which makes for great shopping opportunities. It’s a lovely city with homes painted in bright pastel colors with window boxes crowded with a profusion of flowers.
Speaking of shopping, Rothenburg ob Der Tauber, which was the second largest city in Germany in the middle ages, has some spectacular Christmas shops including Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas Village which also contains a German Christmas Museum.
Nördlingen is a circular walled city and the original theory was that it was built in a depression left by a volcano. And while that is interesting, the city is actually built in a depression from a meteor strike, which is even more interesting! When the meteor struck, it created something called suevite rock which contains glass and microscopic diamonds.The diamonds are built into the buildings and St. George’s Church contains more than 5,000 carats in diamonds.
The city has a crater museum where American astronauts underwent geological training before making their trips to the moon.
Palaces galore, including the Mad King’s creations
King Ludwig II was king for all of two years before he was deposed for his lavish and maniacal spending, imprisoned in one of his own castles and he drowned in a lake of waist high water one day later with the doctor who had ruled him insane. He had three castles in various stages of construction when he was deposed.
The most famous of Ludwig II’s castles is Neuschwanstein. Perched on a rocky ledge overlooking a grotto, it provided the inspiration for the castle in Cinderella. It, as well as his other castles, were actually not designed by architects, but by an opera set designer. Neuschwanstein was built with creature comforts including running water, an elevator, forced air heat and flushing toilets. The grand rooms were decorated in themes concentrating on heroic legends, operas and romantic literature.
Linderhoff Place, in Ettal, is the smallest of Ludwig II’s palaces and the only one that was completed. It is modeled after Versailles and the lavish interior has an abundance of elaborate carvings with lots of gold leaf. The Moroccan House is on the palace grounds as well as a man-made Venus grotto. The sculpted gardens are accented by the picturesque backdrop of the foothills of the Alps.
One of the other castles of note on the Romantic Road is Heidelberg Castle. Set about 300 feet above the city, it is actually several buildings which ring a courtyard. The buildings were each built at a different time so they are in different architectural styles. It offers fabulous views of the countryside and — the world’s largest wine barrel! In 1751 Prince Elector Karl Theodor decided local winemakers needed to pay wine as their tax so he had the barrel built. It holds 58,124 gallons and it has a dance floor on the top.
The Passion Play and more places of note
In 1634 the villagers of Oberammergau prayed they would be spared from a plague and promised if they were, every 10th year they would perform a grand production commemorating the death and resurrection of Christ. Postponed for the past two years, the play will be presented in 2022.
Presented in German, English text is provided and it runs for five hours. Yes, five hours, but you do get a meal break! Performed on an open air stage, it takes more than 2,000 performers, musicians and stage technicians to complete.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen are two towns that were joined in 1936. One of the area’s top winter sports destinations, Garmisch is modern and trendy while Partenkirchen to the east exudes Old World charm.
Ten minutes away is Eibsee where you can ride a cable car to the summit of Zugspitze, Germany’s highest peak. Take a break at the top, have a beer, and take in the panoramic view of the mountain peaks and four countries.
This is just a bit of what you can enjoy — there’s monasteries, churches with gorgeous paintings and frescoes (on the walls and ceilings), spaetzle, beer, sausage, schnitzel and lebkuchen which is a soft, chewy version of gingerbread with hazelnuts, candied fruit and lemon peel.