Garmisch-Partenkirchen Things to Do Tips by Kathrin_E
Garmisch-Partenkirchen Things to Do: 128 reviews and 296 photos
This picture is in every book about Garmisch and on many postcards: the painted window, two soldiers in uniforms from around 1800 leaning out and watching the world go by. One is a hussar, the other an infantryman. After the hussar, this house has been named "Haus zum Husaren". It hosts a restaurant - I did not eat there so I cannot tell how good it is, but it looked nice.
The facade was painted in 1801. The ornaments around the windows show the neoclassical elements that were popular then. The house is almost 200 years older, though. The background story involves the wars between Napoleon and the Emperor, France and Austria. In 1800 a group of French hussars and Bavarian infantrymen had to be billeted in the house. The landlord was not happy with them, though, and to get rid of them he showed them a secret path over the Wetterstein mountains to the next valley where the troops of the Emperor were camping.
To find the house and the picture, you have to cross Loisach river and explore the quarter around the Old Church of St Martin. Haus zum Husaren is located in Fürstenstraße in the curve and on the corner of Lazarettstraße.
The Old Church of St Martin is the oldest church of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. In the middle ages it used to be the one and only parish church for the whole valley. Its history dates back to the 12th century, probably even to around 800 A.D. The present church was erected in the late 13th century and extended in the 15th and 16th. There were no more changes in early modern times because the church lost its role when the new, bigger parish church was built on the opposite side of Loisach river in the 1730s.
Old St Martin is located North of the river, a bit away from what is now the centre of Garmisch. You will spot the pointed steeple. This quarter is quiet and has some beautiful painted houses, for example "Haus zum Husaren".
The church's main attractions are the medieval frescoes on the walls inside. Most remarkable: the picture of St Christophorus, 7 metres high. The Northern side wall shows the Passion of Christ in two rows of scenes. Then there is the Last Judgment and the row of the apostles above the arch towards the choir, the church's patron saint, St Martin, sharing his coat with the beggar on the right, and pictures of several other saints.
The church is open in the daytime.
The gorge is probably most impressive in winter when the rocks are covered with snow and ice and long icicles are hanging from them. The best time to visit is the late morning: Around 11:30-12:00 there is a rather short interval when some sunlight falls into the Southern/upper end and makes the ice shine and glitter (photos 4 and 5).
The idea of a winter hike in the icy gorge sounds scary at first. However, the trail is well taken care of and it is really tourist-proof, cleared and sprinkled with gravel. Most of the trail within the gorge runs under rocks and through tunnels so it is dry. At spots where water is dripping there can be some ice on the ground, so watching your steps is a good idea. The trail is not suitable for wheelchairs, prams and strollers, or bikes.
Shoes with good soles are necessary, more on the trails outside the gorge than inside, snow chains or spikes under the shoes are nice to have. Dress warm, inside the gorge it is notably colder than outside.
There is another advantage about visiting in winter: When there is ice, most of the water is frozen, so there is not much dripping. While you need rain gear in summer to avoid being soaked, in winter you won't be hit by more than a few occasional drops.
Getting there: Take the bus 1 or 2 (free with Kurkarte) to the ski stadium and follow the small road that passes the stadium on the right. There are signs pointing the way to "Partnachklamm". There is also a signboard at the beginning of the road by the stadium which tells whether the gorge is open or closed. From there it is a walk of about 20 minutes to the beginning of the gorge. This small road is in theory closed to traffic (so if you arrive by car, park in the big parking lot at the ski stadium) but I encountered a remarkable number of cars on the way.
Entrance fee: 3 € for adults, with Kurkarte reduced to 2 €, children 6-16 1.50 €.
Opening hours: 9.00-17.00
More information, geological and historical background in their flyer (in English)
More of my photos in the travelogues!
A young ski racer
Being a centre of winter sports, Garmisch-Partenkirchen is the location of many competitions in almost all winter disciplines. Of course there are the big World Cup events, like the downhill races on the famous Kandahar track and the ski jumping on New Years Day. These are announced well in advance and require buying expensive tickets. However, top athletes don't drop from heaven. It takes a lot of work in training children and teenagers to lead the best of them to top level. Many competitions are held for children and teenagers, boys and girls in the different age groups.
So if you hear a loudspeaker somewhere, have a look what is going on. When I passed the ski stadium on the way to Partnach gorge there were slalom races for kids going on on the slope of Gudiberg. Those kids were really good. The first photo shows one of the participants, a girl of maybe 11 or 12 years, already in the same race suit as the professionals.
The new ski jump on the slope of Gudiberg, which substituted the old one in 2007, is a landmark of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The daring architecture is amazing at daytime but even more impressive at night when it is illuminated from inside.
To me, looking up at the thing from the ground was enough. If you want to experience how the ski jumpers feel up there, there are guided tours to the top on Saturday afternoon. Enquire and sign up for a tour in advance at the tourist information office - details on their website.
The ski stadium at the foot of the ski jump is worth a closer look. The cubic entrance portals, the oversized reliefs and statues have that certain *flair* that betrays them as Nazi architecture. Indeed, the stadium was built for the 1936 winter Olympics. The side entrance was open when I walked by so I was able to enter the stadium. I don't know if this is always the case but it is worth checking.
The ski stadium is the starting point for the walk to Partnachklamm and various hiking trails. The base station Eckbauer cable car is nearby. From the town centre it is best reached by bus 1 or 2. The bus ride is free if you have a Kurkarte.
If you are looking for the oldest parts of Garmsich and streets with that certain old-world charm, Sonnenstraße is the second one worth mentioning in addition to Frühlingstraße. It is one of the streets in the old village respective town centre South of Loisach river. Just a few steps from Garmisch's most touristy area, Marienplatz and the pedestrian zone, it is nevertheless quiet. Some houses are part of an rather upscale looking apartment(?) hotel, others are homes.
Garmisch's history dates back to the early middle ages. Of course the present houses are not that old, but there are a couple of streets where you'll find an ensemble of historical houses in the typical style of the Bavarian Alps, with big roofs and wooden balconies over the gables. The prettiest of these old street is probably Frühlingstraße.
The name translates to "spring street" and might refer to (my guess) its location on the "spring" or "summer" side of the valley on the Northern bank of Loisach river, the side that receives more sunshine than the Southern bank which remains in the shade of the mountains much longer. It is the second street parallel to the river, hence arleady a bit uphill. The houses line up on one side only, all facing Southeast - photos are best taken between morning and early afternoon. Towards the valley there are the declining gardens of the houses in Loisachstraße below. This topography makes Frühlingstraße appear like a sunny terrace.
This street is easiest to find starting from Kurpark. Cross the bridge over Loisach river, then keep left (Fürstenstraße, the street that leads towards the old church of St Martin), then it is the second street to the left.
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