18 December 2011

Christmas in Bavaria, Germany – Impressions of a Wintry Wonderland

Winter splendor in Bavaria, Germany.  Castle Hohenschwangau is seen here above the village against the backdrop of the Alps.  All photography in this post: ©BrianJannsen Photography. Unauthorized use is prohibited.  

Snowcapped mountaintops, fairy tale castles and Alpine villages glistening in white—this is Christmas in Bavaria, Germany! Along Germany’s Romantic Road from Würzberg in the north to Füssen in the south, this wintry wonderland blankets almost one-fifth of Germany and offers some of the most picturesque settings in all of Europe. Home to capital city of Munich; Nuremberg with the oldest Christmas market in Germany; Augsburg; Würzburg and Ingollstadt to name a few, Bavaria is also home to the one of the most recognized castles in the world and one of my favorites – Castle Neuschwanstein. During the Christmas holidays, Bavaria’s aglow in its blanket of snow with vibrant Christkindlmarkts, storybook villages and mighty castles set against the backdrop of the majestic Alps.


Castle Neuschwanstein - the fairy tale castle for the fairy tale King Ludwig II. ©BrianJannsen Photography. Unauthorized use is prohibited.  
I owe huge thanks as well as applause to Brian Jannsen, master of light and lens, who’s responsible for these magnificent Bavarian landscapes. If you enjoyed our first collaboration on the villages of Alsace, you’re going to love this. On this picturesque tour through Bavaria, we’ll visit Neuschwanstein, Hohenschwangau, the quaint village streets and shops in Füssen, Saint Mang and Saint Coloman. Won’t you come along?

Neuschwanstein Castle


Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany rises majestically against the soaring Alps. ©BrianJannsen Photography. Unauthorized use is prohibited. 

Perched upon the Alpine mountaintops stands one of the most recognized castles in the world—Castle Neuschwanstein. King Ludwig II ordered the design and construction of this medieval fortress, which is not actually medieval at all, in 1868. Opening just 18 years later, Neuschwanstein was home to Ludwig for only a short while before his premature death. However, he left a legacy of castle splendor behind in this colossal fortress including lavishly decorated walls with scenes and characters based on Richard Wagner’s operas. Actually, it is because of these paintings that he earned the nickname of Fairytale King. You’ll also find a Throne Room, a spectacular two-story grand hall inspired by Byzantine architecture; elaborate oak paneling decorated with bas-relief carvings in the dining room; silks and delicate embroidery embellishing the walls of Ludwig’s ornate bedroom; and even a small grotto replete with stalactites and stalagmites! One thing is certain, despite his “madness,” Ludwig’s imagination knew no limits. Seven weeks after Ludwig’s death in 1886, Castle Neuschwanstein opened its doors to the public and has welcomed visitors ever since.

Hohenschwangau


Hohenschwangau Castle, home to King Maximilian II, was where King Ludwig II spent his childhood.  Seen here in this dramatic photograph, the warmth of the floodlit castle contrasts starkly with the frigid Alpine mountaintops in the background. ©BrianJannsen Photography. Unauthorized use is prohibited.  
Nearby to Castle Neuschwanstein, Castle Hohenschwangau stands perched above its namesake village and is where Ludwig spent his childhood. It was his father, King Maximilian II of Bavaria, who built Castle Hohenschwangau in the 19th century upon the remains of the medieval fortress Schwanstein which dates back to the 12th century. King Maximilian II purchased the land in 1832 and construction began a year later. Completed in 1837, Castle Hohenschwangau served as the summer home to the King and his wife Queen Marie of Prussia and their two sons, Ludwig and Otto, both of whom succeeded the throne of Bavaria. It wasn’t until the last of the family members died that the castle opened as a museum in 1913.

The village of Hohenschwangau lies at the base of Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau Castles.   Tickets for one or both of the castles must be purchased in the village before visiting. ©BrianJannsen Photography. Unauthorized use is prohibited. 

Füssen


The village square in Füssen, Germany is aglow the warmth of Christmas despite the blanket of snow. ©BrianJannsen Photography. Unauthorized use is prohibited. 

Renowned for its Hohes Schloss of Füssen, an extraordinary Gothic castle landmark that served as the summer home of the prince bishops of Augsburg; Füssen boasts a 700-year-old village that was once Europe’s commercial center of lute and violin manufacturing. Inside the San Mang Abbey’s courtyard, you’ll find Füssen’s Christmas market alive with the heavenly scents of roasted apples and glühwein wafting through the air and wooden chalets brimming with handcrafted gifts and decadent bites of deliciousness. Outside the abbey, stroll along the storied lanes lined with shops brimming with holiday gifts and mouthwatering pastries as well.


One of many of the tantalizing Christmas window displays in the village of Füssen, Germany. ©BrianJannsen Photography. Unauthorized use is prohibited. 

Saint Mang Abbey


Just one of the many frescoes of the Saint Mang Abbey in Füssen, Germany. ©BrianJannsen Photography. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

Steeped in over 1,000 years of history, this former Benedictine Monastery of Saint Mang houses a vast collection of art and artifacts. Inside, its Baroque halls and the Füssen Heritage Museum, you’ll discover exquisite sculptures, paintings and frescoes decorated throughout.


Saint Coloman


Saint Coloman Chapel in Füssen, Germany has been a pilgrimage site since the 15th century. ©BrianJannsen Photography. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

Located only two miles from Castle Neuschwanstein is the picturesque Baroque church of Saint Coloman in Schwangau which still serves as a major pilgrimage site since the 15th century. Each year on the Sunday nearest to October 13, the surrounding towns celebrate Saint Coloman Day with a feast to honor the saint who was accused of being a spy and thus captured, tortured and executed for while traveling on his own pilgrimage from his home country of Ireland to Jerusalem.

I leave you with these parting shots.  I hope you enjoyed this wintry tour of silent nights and glistening whites of winter splendor in Bavaria.


©BrianJannsen Photography. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

©BrianJannsen Photography. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
 
Brian Jannsen Photography

As I mentioned above, these photos were taken by Brian Jannsen on his last tour through Bavaria. If you don’t know Brian, he’s renowned for his award-winning photography and has been published in books, calendars and magazines including National Geographic, Lonely Planet and Frommers. Throughout the year, Brian hosts photo tours in Europe and the U.S. and while these are not photography workshops per se, Brian instructs fellow travelers on how to capture the most perfect light while framing unforgettable views of the picturesque landscapes. If you would like to join Brian on one of his photo tours whether it’s with a group or on a private tour, check out his schedule of upcoming tours in 2012.

Brian Jannsen Photography Tours

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37 comments:

  1. Wow--that's my dream trip, for sure. Keep the winter dream posts coming! Love love love the snow...

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  2. Gorgeous! I have spent some time in Munich a couple times but not in the rest of Bavaria. These photos inspire me to get there!

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  3. Ooo la la... fantastic photos! Looks picture perfect ;-)

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  4. Lesley,
    I would love to travel the entire Romantic Road in Germany as well...this whole area is really a winter wonderland especially with the castles and the Alps. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts...and don't worry, I will keep these posts coming for quite sometime. Thx.

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  5. Hi Jenna, I couldn't agree with you more about Brian's photography...he certainly captures Bavaria's scenic wonders in his work! Thanks so much for stopping by and next time you're in Munich, you'll need to take a detour to the west...it's not so far away. Thank you for stopping by.

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  6. Cam, I couldn't agree with you more!! I too fell under the spell of Bavaria when I saw Brian's photos so I just had to work with him on this partner post! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!!

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  7. This visitor from Lexington, Ky was blessed to have been 'conceived' in Bavaria while my parents were deer and wild boar hunting in the Black Forest. What a blessing from my father to have been given that detail of my beginning! My great great great grandfather was a master butcher in that area in 1829. Thank you for the pictures, they stir my heart!

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  8. Dear Anonymous,
    That is such delightful new to hear. And, how wonderful about your great great grandfather as well. My family is from the area as well...funny how we can trace our roots back to the same region. Thank you so much for stopping by to share your thoughts and experiences. Happy Holidays!!

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  9. Your photos are gorgeous! They put me right in a festive mood!

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  10. Hi Michael,

    Thank you for your kind words but I can only take responsibility for the article...the stunning images are by the talented Brian Jannsen, my collaborator on this feature. Like you, they put me in quite a festive mood too!!! Happy Holidays to you my friend.

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  11. The anonymous message posted 9:37 am is not the one you call your friend, so you don't get us mixed up.
    Great pictures from Brian, and as usual a GREAT ARTICLE
    I enjoyed the tour in Germany, it's so beautiful with the snow on the ground and would like to spend Christmas there someday. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Looking forward to another article from you because ;you make someone feel like they are really there

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  12. Dear Anonymous...I know that however, I love all of my Anonymouses and you quite well by now my friend! Thank you for your kind words once again...they really mean a lot to me and I am grateful to have you as one of my dedicated readers...Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours as well my dear friend!!

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  13. So beautiful and thanks for the magical tour of this magnificient area of Germany.

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  14. Hello thanks for posting the beautiful pictures. Makes me homesick that's my country,my home. Ingrid

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  15. Hi Laurie and Ingrid!! Thank you so much for your kind words and I will be sure to share them with Brian as well!! He is responsible for these most magical images of Bavaria. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!!!

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  16. Having walked these very same paths in 1992 and going up to Neuschwanstein Castle and staying overnight in Fussen, it is wonderful to relive these memories

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  17. Holiday Greeting Bill!!! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your wonderful trip down memory lane! I am really glad you enjoyed the pics and will be sure to share that sentiment with Brian, the master of the photography in this article.

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  18. Used to do winter trainings with my soldiers in Bavaria and loved the wintertime there. Am coning back in 2013 when my wife graduates from her Master's Program. I love Germany! Want to visit the place of my ancestors (1851) in Bayreuth. Wayne Hamberger, Birmingham, Alabama.

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  19. Hi Wayne, What a fascinating tale you tell about training with your soldiers in Bavaria. My ancestors are from the area as well! Until 2013, you can return here to relive your memories. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your experiences...I love to hear it all!!

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  20. Beautiful photos of one of my favorite places! Thanks for sharing these with us all :)

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  21. Merry Christmas Debbie!! Thank you so much for stopping by and for your kind words. I will be sure to share your sentiment with my partner in crime Brian Jannsen, the master of light and lens!! Wishing you and yours a most joyous holiday!

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  22. I absolutely love the pictures of the castle and the Saint Coloman Chapel--even more places to put on my bucket list. Thanks for the post and the pictures, Brian and Jeff!

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  23. Merry Christmas dearest Charu! I have fallen in love with all of Brian's enchanting images of Europe ever since my first glimpse of Alsace!! Thx for stopping by and for your wonderful compliments of which I will be sure to share with Brian.

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  24. What fabulous photos! Bavaria in winter is really magical. And of course, a great and famous hiking destination.

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  25. Michael, I couldn't agree with you more about the magical quality of these photos. Brian really understands how to capture these scenic landscapes in a most dramatic light that transforms ordinary into extraordinary. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I will be sure to share your comments with Brian as well.

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  26. This looks like a fairy tale Disney castle. Amazing!

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  27. Hi Leslie and thanks so much for stopping by. Totally agree with you on the "Disneyesque" quality that inspired Walt's vision for his Sleeping Beauty castle in Disneyland.

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  28. I don't much like snow, but love seeing them in pictures, safe in the warmth under my blanket. ;-) Gorgeous phhotos, as usual.

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  29. HI Marlys...so funny. I just left you a comment about not liking Gaudi's cathedral and here you are not liking the snow...ah but I haven't seen in 16 years...and oh how I would love to see snow again.

    Thanks for stopping by once again my dear friend.

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  30. Like a fairy tale! Absolutely beautiful. What am I doing in Frankfurt??

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    1. Hi there Angela and thx so much for stopping by. After your tour of Frankfurt, head to Bavaria! Hope you have fantastic time wherever you may travel!

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  31. These photos are magical!! We love Bavaria and the fairy tale trail that runs through out the area... you really can feel like you will see the Big Bad Wolf or Hansel and Gretel pass you by!

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    1. Hi there my friend and thx so much for stopping by. I couldn't agree with you more about these and all of Brian's work! Enchanting, magical, stunning, etc.! Would love to run into Hansel and Gretel, perhaps even the Big Bad Wolf too! Thx again.

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  32. Hi Jeff,
    While driving on one of the side roads approaching Neuschwantstein Castle in September, we were halted by a passing herd of oxen. That same thing happened 2 more times while roaming around Bavaria, with one time while on foot. The shepherd urgently handed me a stick and motioned for me to help keep the herd from straying off the road. I had to use that stick a time or two and felt good being a part of the procession! Apparently in September, oxen herds come down from the bigger, upper pastures to their closer-in farm pastures.
    Then in Füssen, I remember one of the finest meals I've ever experienced at a wonderful sidewalk cafe. The temperatures were crisp and pleasant.
    So thank you Jeff, for taking me on this trip with you through a most glorious part of the world. You always add great detail and history -- and of course the photography! I pine to return, don't you!
    Wishing you safe and happy travels,
    ~Josie

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    1. Hi there Josie! Boy, do I love comments like this!! It is such a thrill to read about another person's experiences especially when they add the savory moments as you do above. I would have really enjoyed assisting the shepherd with the oxen...HOW MUCH FUN it must have been! And the food in Füssen sounds delectable...I wish I could have tasted all of that deliciousness!

      Thank you so very much for stopping by and sharing your journey in Bavaria! And yes, let's go again!!!

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  33. Hi,Jeff! I'm Diana(you know me from Twitter). However, I want you to recommend another fairy tale castle in Bavaria which probably, you have visited. It's Linderhof palace, a roccoco one where you are mesmerizes by the so beautiful garden and of course by the opulent interiors which overhelms you a bit. Not to mention that it is the smallest of the three palaces built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria and the only one which he lived to see completed. I've been so impressed by this jewel of art. If you hadn't visited it, go there and you won't regret.

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    1. Hi Diana and thank you so much for adding even more great tips to traveling in Bavaria!! I haven't been to Linderhof but absolutely know all about it and actually one of my colleagues returned from there not too long ago! Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts! I love to get helpful comments like this!!

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