Beside the fantastic nature and mountains, the Zugspitze area is known for its history and culture. Here is an overview of the local attractions to make your planning easier.
Werdenfels Castle Ruins
The ruins of the Werdenfels Castle are enthroned 80 m above the Loisach valley floor between Garmisch and Farchant. This historic site is closely related to the origins of the Werdenfels County. The castle was once a magnificent building, presumably dating back to the 13th century. Unfortunately the castle fell into decline over the centuries and ended by being used as a source of stones for other buildings in Garmisch and Farchant. Anyway, the site is worth a visit due to the fantastic panorama view. The educational trail informs you on the history of the castle and its inhabitants on 15 information boards.
The Aschenbrenner Museum in Garmisch-Partenkirchen owns an extensive collection of porcelain, dolls and traditional Christmas cribs. The porcelain objects exhibited at the museum document the exciting history of porcelain as a means of politics. The lovely porcelain dolls would fascinate any kid and let the grown-ups reminisce of their childhood. In the exhibition you will learn how dolls changed over decades. The museum owns 11 large Christmas cribs dating back to the last four centuries, as well as smaller cribs, figures of individual characters present in cribs, and precious monastery artisan works. The Aschenbrenner Museum offers a lot to see, wonder, and experience.
The Werdenfels Museum was founded as early as 1895 to present the history and culture of the Werdenfels County to the broad public. On more than 1,000 square meters visitors learn the history, art, traditions and typical features that shaped the local folk. The exhibition covers traditional garments and jewelry, rooms showing e.g. the Carnival, or the history of Mount Zugspitze with a summit cross dating back to 1851, to name just a few
Olympic Ski Jumping Hill
The ski jumping hill served as the regular location of the New Year’s ski jumping contest already from 1921. Naturally, the hill was regularly reconstructed and renovated during the many years of its history, the last reconstruction took place in 2007 to comply with the new requirements of the International Ski Federation (FIS). The current hill is 38 m in height, the in-run segment is 82.5 m long. Ski jumpers reach a speed of around 91 km/h. The latest record of 129,5 m was set by Adam Malysz on January 1, 2001.
Murnau Castle Museum
The main collection of the Murnau Castle Museum (Schlossmuseum Murnau) features the works of Gabriele Münter, including over 80 paintings, drawings and graphics. Other collections include 'The New Munich Artists‘ Association' and 'The Blue Rider' with multiple works of Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc and other artists. Another focus is 19th century painting. The museum offers interesting short-term exhibitions during the whole year. (Link in German.)
The Münter House once belonged to Gabriele Münter. She and Wassily Kandinsky often stayed in the house. They designed the interiors, layed out the garden and painted the furniture using their own sketches. The house provides interesting insights into the life of both artists, it is a monument to their art and has been restored to the original interior from 1909-1914. Here you can discover multiple paintings, graphics, reverse glass paintings and other works of Kandinsky and Münter, as well as samples of the folk arts they were collecting.
The dominant Benedictine abbey in the village of Ettal is an international touristic attraction. The foundation of the monastery by the Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian dates back to 1330. The Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin that lies in the heart of the monastery was initially built in gothic style but later was subject to baroque reconstruction. Today the monastery owns a beer brewery, a distillery and a library, and offers guided tours for the broad public that provide insight into the inner life of the monastery. You can visit the brewery and the liqueur production as well. Take a round tour of the monastery terrain to get a view of this world-famous abbey.
Ettal cheese production site
If you love cheese, don't miss the cheese production site in Ettal. This small facility (the official name is Schaukäserei Ammergauer Alpen) produces a number of local cheese varieties like ‚Ettaler Manndl‘ Cheese (named after the local mountain peak), Bierkäse (‚Beer Cheese‘), Uriger Ammertaler (‚Ancient Ammer Valley Cheese‘) or Ettaler Klosterkäse (‚Ettal Monastery Cheese‘). You can watch the production process and buy some cheese, that you can enjoy at the local cafe or later on a hiking or mountainbike tour.
Linderhof Castle is located 11 kilometers from Ettal. It is the smallest one of the three castles built by the Bavarian king Ludwig II. and the only one that was completed during his lifetime. Linderhof was the favourite castle of the ‚Fairytale King‘ and he often stayed there. The enclosed garten and park area with other notable buildings make an ensemble with the castle and are worth a visit as well. The castle itself is only open for guided tour visitors.
Museum of Violin Manufacturing
The neighbouring town of Mittenwald is the centre of violin manufacturing. Up to these days it is home to a dozen violin makers. The state school for violin making located in Mittenwald is the only one in Bavaria and one of two schools in Germany. The museum is focused on the long tradition of artisan work kept by the violin makers. The exhibition comprises more than 200 violins and other string instruments. You can also watch the violin making process in a show workshop.
Pilgrimage Church of Wies
The Pilgrimage Church of Wies (Wieskirche) in the outskirts of Steingaden is one of the most visited churches in Germany. This splendid rococo jewel was listed as UNESCO World Heritage in 1983. The inner design of the church, created by the famous Zimmermann brothers, is very impressive. The Church of Wies is a pilgrimage site due to the wonder that reportedly took place in 1738 to the wooden figure of the Scourged Saviour, which is nowadays located inside the church.
Walchensee Power Plant
This water storage power plant is an industrial monument constructed in 1924, and it remains one of the biggest objects of this kind in Germany. The power plant at Lake Walchensee is truly the birthplace of industrial power generation in Bavaria and it is open for public. Visitors at the information centre learn everything on how power is delivered to the power socket, as well as everything around water power and the Walchensee Power Plant. A must-see for everyone interested in technology.
Franz Marc MuseumFranz Marc was an outstanding expressionist and he lived in Kochel am See. The museum owns a huge collection of German expressionist paintings and after-war abstract art. The art of the ‚Blue Rider‘ group is represented here as well. Exhibitions change many times a year.
Glentleiten Open-Sky Museum
In this unique open-sky museum you can encounter the Bavarian tradition and see historic buildings, that have been reconstructed on a huge terrain together with gartens, pastures and woods in the picturesque surroundings of Großweil. To further enhance the visitor experience, the pastures are populated with traditional domestic animals. Here you can live the everyday country life in Upper Bavaria, including house furnishing and work instruments.
Here at the Hoher Peißenberg you would discover not only the beautiful pilgrimage church dating back to the 17 century, but also the world’s oldest observatory, that was founded by the Prince-Elector Maximilian Joseph III, Duke of Bavaria. The church is notable for its high altar in barocco style, the relief and the Grace Chapel in splendid rococo style. Weather reports at the Hoher Peißenberg observatory have been conducted since 1 January, 1871, so when it comes to historic data analysis, data from this weather station are an indispensable asset internationally. The impressive panorama of the German Alps is another reason why you should visit the Hoher Peißenberg.
If you came to Grainau from Austria, you may have noticed the massive fortress that belongs to the castle ensemble in Ehrenberg. Back in 1296, it was a towering medieval castle with well-fortified walls, high towers and plenty of history. The recapture of the Ehrenberg started from the neighbouring mountain Schlosskopf, but the fortress construction started only in 1733. The building had only been in use for 41 years before it was lost. Nowadays, Ehrenberg is a museum where visitors can learn about the life of chivalry in the Middle Ages.
Royal Castles in Füssen
The castles Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau belong to the must-see list in Germany and they are only 45 minutes‘ drive from Grainau. The fairytale castle of King Ludwig II. and the castle of his father King Maximilian II. can be visited within one day, since they are located very close to each other. Both castles present splendid interior designs worshiped by visitors from all over the world. The interiors can only be visited on a guided tour. We recommend to buy tickets online in advance, as the only possibility to get them locally is the Ticket Center Hohenschwangau.