Berchtesgadener Land – Germany 2009

Nestled in the very south-eastern corner of Germany is Berchtesgadener Land. It’s an exceptionally beautiful region that’s surrounded by mountains and home to some of the most spectacular scenery in Germany.

The area is also inextricably linked to Germany’s Nazi era – after taking power in 1933, Hitler (who already owned a holiday home in the region), established a southern headquarters in the Obersalzberg. Much of this was destroyed by Allied bombing at the end of WWII, but Hitler’s mountain retreat, the Eagle’s Nest (or Kehlsteinhaus) remains and is, we found, a major tourist attraction.

The Eagle's Nest, or Kehlsteinhaus, on Mt. Kehlstein
The Eagle's Nest, or Kehlsteinhaus, high on Mt. Kehlstein

Our goal was to enjoy the scenery and do some walking – at minimum cost. This turned out to be surprisingly easy. After taking a trip into Berchtesgaden – an attractive but rather touristy and expensive town – we headed out to the main Berchtesgaden National Park car park, from which the Königsee lake and various mountains can be accessed.

After parking and paying the €4 daily fee, we followed a signed footpath towards the Königsee. This huge lake is nestled between various hills and mountains and is both stunningly beautiful and wonderfully peaceful. When we reached the main viewing point for the lake (pictured below), we stopped, as did everyone else. I think it’s the first time that I’ve ever been outdoors and heard people lower their voices to a murmur so as not to spoil the atmosphere. I’ve been in churches where there was more noise – really.

This picture doesn't do justice to the beauty and tranquility of the Konigsee
This picture doesn't do justice to the beauty and tranquility of the Konigsee
Traditional boat houses at the foot of the Konigsee
Traditional boat houses at the foot of the Konigsee

The next day, we returned to the same car park with slightly grander ambitions. The previous day’s reconaissance had revealed a cable car, the Jennerbahn, that ran from the base of the park up to a peak of 1,874m. We paid the ticket price and boarded a cable car for the ride to the top. Our plan was to have lunch at the very top and then walk down to the Mittelstation – the halfway house that is common on these long cable car runs. From there, we would ride the cable car back down to the bottom again, giving us about 2.5 hours of walking in total.

Here are some pictures from the ride up and the walk down:

Snow-blowers seen on the cable car ride up - snow isn't left to chance in modern ski resorts!
Snow blowers seen on the cable car ride up - snow isn't left to chance in modern ski resorts!
It's a long way down...
It's a long way down...
The restaurant at the top of the Jennerbahn, viewed from the footpath going down
The restaurant at the top of the Jennerbahn, viewed from the footpath going down

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