Size: approx. 840 square kilometres
Towns: Bad Reichenhall (17,300 inhabitants), Freilassing (16,300 inhabitants), Berchtesgaden (7,900 inhabitants)
Lakes: Königssee, Hintersee
Mountains: Watzmann (2713m)
Highlights: Alpine National park, Salt mines in Berchtesgaden
Berchtesgadener Land in south-east Upper Bavaria is characterised by its high Alpine mountainous territory, unspoilt valleys and picturesque villages.
Germany’s only national Alpine park Berchtesgaden can be discovered via the “small Berchtesgadener Reibn”. This circular hike leads over the high plateau of the high Schneibstein, where you can often see ibexes.
Recover with a bite to eat or stop for a drink at one of the nearly 30 Alpine huts offering refreshments. Also the Preisbergalm above Lake Königssee is one of the rich traditional huts for making gentian schnapps, where it has been brewed for several hundred years now. Surrounded by rock faces and many peaks Lake Königssee with its clear water has the incomparable character of a Norwegian fjord. A valley further along you’ll find Bavaria’s first mountaineer’s village, the picturesque village of Ramsau. For guests the local pilgrim’s church St. Sebastian is by far the most popular scene for a photo. And a real adventure especially for families with children is a visit to the salt mines in Berchtesgaden. They have been mining the white gold from the Haselgebirge Mountains since 1517. Whoever wants to stop and take a deep breath, should stop off in Bad Reichenhall and enjoy the relaxing saltwater; either in the modern Rupertus thermal spa or in the traditional Alte Saline.
According to the local legend, the King’s family was once transformed into stone as punishment for their barbarity. The high chalkstone massif of the Berchtesgadener Alps really reminds you of a family when taking a photo from the north: the King was the large Watzmann, a pyramid-shaped peak at 2,713 metres. The 2,307 metre high Kleine Watzmann is his wife; the cheeky spikes in between are commonly called the Watzmann children by the locals. In the early 19th century the summits were climbed one after the other. In 1868 the mountain guide Johann Grill from the Kederbach Hof in Ramsau was the first one to climb all three Watzmann peaks. In 1881 Grill was also the pioneer to climb the infamous Eastern wall, the longest rock face in the Eastern Alps at 1,800 metres. More than a hundred people have since died on this mountain, where it’s sometimes a little dangerous on certain stretches, i.e. on the paths towards the hut, the Watzmannhaus at 1,930 metres. This is why you shouldn’t go unprepared!
One of the cleanest and most beautiful lakes in Germany is situated between the steep mountainous hillsides. The excursion boats start across Lake Königssee from Schönau – lake side and hiking paths into the national park start from every stop. Lots of people get off the boat especially at the St. Bartholomä stop. The church which was built on older walls around 1700 is the landmark of the lake with both its towers and the red domed roofs.
Source: MERIAN Oberbayern