Schöllang – Burgkirche
The ’Burgkirche’ (Castle Church) refers to a former castle, which once was located on this hill above the village of Schöllang. The church was first mentioned in 1351, but the current appearance of the church should go back to the beginning of the 15th century. Parts of the building are even older; in the transformation parts of the early medieval building were used.
Many years the ‘Burgkirche’ was the parish church of Schöllang, but in 1804 it should have been demolished at the behest of the Bavarian government. Due to the efforts of the citizens of the village it could persist as a cemetery church.
We did read an article about the ‘Schöllanger Burgkirche’ in the Oberstdorf-Magazin. This hidden gem should have some beautiful alters in its interior. Always interested in this kind of cultural sights, we decided to take a look. First we went to the tourist office in Oberstdorf asking for the opening hours. One of the employees answered it was ALWAYS open during day time.
On a snowy Friday we went by car, first to Schöllang, where we couldn’t find a proper parking place. So we parked our car in Reichenbach along the main road and started walking through the fields in heavy snowfall. From Widum – a hamlet with just a couple of houses – we had to climb about 80 metres to the top of the hill.
The church lies on the ridge of the hill. It has a huge cross on a wall and in front we saw the churchyard with many snow covered tombstones and –monuments. It must be one of the most beautifully located churchyards. Even during this bad weather we had wonderful views on the Iller Valley.
But – never expected – it turned out that the church was closed. So we never saw the ‘promised’ interior and had to return to our car. The walk (back and forth) did take about 50 minutes.
(ps: back at home I mailed the tourist office about the wrong information they provided. They answered very quickly and did some investigations about the opening hours. Their newest information says: The church is open from about 9.30 am till sunset (winter times about 4.30 pm) except when there is a heavy snowfall, then the church is not open for visitors.
If you are interested in visiting the interior, just make sure the church is open.
A picture of the wonderful interior: http://www.fotocommunity.de/pc/pc/display/1723248
Summer pictures/info from the church and its surroundings: www.allgaeu-ausfluege.de/schoellang.htm
- Arts and Culture
Bergschau - Altes Rathaus
In a couple of places in and around Oberstdorf are exhibits called ‘Bergschau’. These ‘mountain looking’ places give very interesting information about the creation of the Alps and how the glaciers more than 10.000 years ago have formed the landscape.
In Oberstdorf itself the ‘Bergschau’ is located in the ‘Altes Rathaus’. I often passed this building, the former city hall of the town, which is dating back to the late 15th century.
During my last visit I decided to take a look inside. It is ‘just’ a one room exhibition. Central point is a huge relief model of the Oberstdorf and its surrounding valleys and mountains. Further more a lot of interactive attention for the flora and fauna and the history of the region from the Stone Age until now.
As said there are more ‘Bergschau’ exhibitions:
- on the top of the Fellhorn cable car station (2.037 m)
- Walserhaus Hirschegg, Kleinwalsertal, Austria (1.122 m)
- entrance building to the Breitachklamm (830 m)
- Obeerstdorf, Altes Rathaus (813 m)
Only for the ‘Bergschau’ in Oberstdorf you do have to pay an entrance fee (just one euro), but with a ‘Allgäu-Walser-Card’ it is freee of charge.
For information about the several/different opening hours see their website.
- Museum Visits
Souls Chapel – Seelenkapelle
The Souls Chapel (or Seelenkapelle in German) in Oberstdorf is a former ossuary, which is located in the middle of the old cemetery of the adjacent St. Johannes the Baptist Church. It was first mentioned in 1524 and is the second oldest chapel in Oberstdorf. Being from the 16th century and not destroyed during the great fire in 1865 I really think it must be one of the oldest structures in town. For an idea of its original situation I found a picture on the following website: http://oberstdorf-online.info/gebaeude/seelen-kapelle.htm
In the year of 1931 it became a War Memorial Chapel to commemorate the war victims. The entrance of the chapel is dominated by two huge structures of soldiers. The interior is quite simple with a stone pieta and a wooden bust. It is still impressive, even intensified by some flowers during our visit.
The chapel has one absolutely amazing façade with beautifully renaissance frescos from the 16th century, which covers the complete wall. If possible I highly recommend (also) a visit in the evening when the chapel is illuminated. It makes it almost a ‘fairy tale’.
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
Heimatmuseum - local history
The ‘Heimatmuseum’ - a local history museum - is located in one of the oldest buildings, dating back to the 17th century. The great fire of 1865 didn’t harm this lovely building. The museum lies along one of the main (shopping) street and offers on three floors almost 40 exhibition rooms.
A lot of the exhibits are related to old professions - weaving, rope making, mountain farm work - crafts, tools, cultural heritage and local traditions. Among the exhibits is also the world’s biggest shoe with a shoe size of 480, made by shoemaker Josef Schratt in 1950. There are also rooms with the history of the mountain guides, alpinism and cross-country skiing. In the basement of the museum is an original alpine dairy kitchen showing how cheese was made by hand and in another room is a gentian distillery.
One of the most important rooms is the so called ‘Gaden’; a bedroom for a farmer and his wife.
I really can recommend visiting the museum during a snowy or rainy day can. It gives a good impression of the life in Oberstdorf in the past. It was too dark for making pictures inside the museum.
For info about the opening hours and entrance fee see their website.
- Museum Visits
Ski jumping stadium
Oberstdorf became its first ski jumping hill already in 1910, which was located nearby the Lorettokapellen. This place was not optimal and the local Ski Club found a better spot at the foot of the Schattenberg. December 1925 the ‘Schattenbergschanze’ was first used for ski jumping.
For the World War II the jump was enlarged a couple of times. Shortly after the war, the hill was rebuilt and already on 1 January 1946 it could be used again.
On January 4th 1953 came the international breakthrough for the ‘Schattenbergschanze’. The first ‘Four Hills Tournament’ - the largest and most important ski jumping contest in the world was launched. Since that moment this competition takes place every year just before New Year's Eve in Oberstdorf.
The ski jumping hills were often enlarged and modernized. Nowadays the ski jumping facility is one of the most modern worldwide and was named in the fall of 2004 ‘Erdinger Arena’. It has now 5 hills, varying from the big ‘Schattenbergschanze’ (HS 137) till the smallest one (HS 20).
During our several Oberstdorf visits we often had seen the ‘Erdinger Arena’ towering high above the town; especially at night an impressive sight with its lighted jumps. On one of those snowy days we decided to take a look inside the stadium.
After paying our entrance fee (be aware: with your ‘Allgäu Walser Card’ you get a discount) we visited the museum on the first floor of the main building. A little bit disappointing with just a lot of (old) pictures and skis. Not much about the history and/or interactive media. There is also a very small shop. I think they could make much more of this museum.
Outside we passed the ‘wall of fame’ towards the funicular, which lifted us about 85 metres with a biggest rise of 35 degrees. From there we had breathtaking views over the stadium and Oberstdorf.
We continued with an elevator to the top of the diving tower. From its panorama deck we had really stunning views of Oberstdorf; due to the snowfall the surrounding mountains were not visible that day. Its quite amazing to realize ski jumpers go down the hill with a speed of more than 90 km’s. We were unlucky with the weather, because the training sessions were cancelled due to the snowfall.
The stadium is open daily (not during the Four Hills Tournament) for visitors. There are also daily guided tours.
For opening hours and entrance fee see their website.
- Skiing and Boarding
- Museum Visits
Oberstdorf, just strolling around
After a night with heavy snowfall it was more or less impossible to ski and we decided on one of our first days in Oberstdorf to stroll around in the town.
We started our walk with a visit of the Erdinger Arena, one of the ski-jump-stadiums in Oberstdorf. This was quite disappointing, because from the outside we couldn’t see - or make a picture - anything of the jumps. To get inside you have to pay a entrance fee. The Erdinger Sportalp - a café/restaurant - could be another possibility, but one of the waitresses was so rude, that we even denied having a drink on the terrace.
We passed the huge Icesportstadium - where you can watch the training of the athletes - and the base station of the Nebelhornbahn and came into the Oststrasse. This is the beginning of a one kilometre long - Oststrasse and Hauptstrasse - shopping area towards the railway station. Together with a couple of side streets, like Kirchstrasse, Pfarrstrasse and Nebelhornstrasse, they make up the commercial centre of Oberstdorf.
This - partly pedestrian - area offers a large number of boutiques, brand, gift and local shops, cafes, bars and restaurants. Just great to do some (window)shopping and having a drink; for instance in our favorite, the Oberstdorfer Käseladen.
Along the Oststrasse you also will find the Heimatmuseum, located in one of the oldest houses of the town. The museum offers an impression of the local history. The Old Town Hall, Marktplatz, has an exhibition about the mountains around Oberstdorf (free of charge if you have a guest card).
Also at the Marktplatz - the heart of the town - stands the parish church St. Johann Baptist with its tall spire. We did take a look inside and were impressed by the beauty of its interior with some lovely altars and pulpit. The Souls Chapel / Seelenkapelle - behind the church on the former graveyard - once was a bone house, but nowadays a memorial for war victims. It has a spectacular façade - especially at night an impressive sight - and a quite sober interior.
We ended our walk at the Kurplatz with the Oberstdorf Haus, which hosts for instance a library, a tourist information centre and a (internet)café. .
- Hiking and Walking
Trettachtal - walking in a winter wonderland
The Trettachtal (Trettach Valley) is one of the valleys in Oberstdorf, which invites you for a walk. On a (very) snowy day we decided for a walk into this valley. The valley starts immediately after the bridge over the river (Mühlenbrücke) nearby the valley station on the cable car to the Nebelhorn.
It is quite a easy walk along the coursing alpine stream and offers beautiful views, during our walk on a very WHITE winter wonderland. We were passing a couple of cafes/restaurants and a came across a lot of other people and two horse-drawn carriages. After Restaurant Gruben we were walking through a lovely alley.
After about one hour we reached a second wooden bridge nearby the hamlet of Gottenried, which we crossed to the other shore. A couple of minutes later we had a stop at a very authentic Bavarian cafe called ‘Brotzeitstüble Haseltopf’.
For the way back we opted for quite a hilly path towards Moorweiher and Moorbad and then back to our starting point at the Mühlenbrücke. All together a very nice and enjoyable walk through a postcard perfect winter landscape.
This is just one of the many (winter) walks one can make in and around Oberstdorf. The tourist information office of Oberstdorf has a leaflet about winter walks and a special hiking map.
- Hiking and Walking
Maria Opferung -beautiful church in Kleinwalsertal
Already in the year of 1471 a chapel was built in the village of Riezlern (Kleinwalsertal) on the location of the present parish church ‘Maria Opferung’. On that time it belonged to the district of Oberstdorf and became independent forty years later. The church has undergone several alterations, extensions and renovations and in 1889 the walls and tower were demolished and a ‘new’ church came to its present appearance five years later.
When hiking or skiing in Kleinwalsertal from Oberstdorf you really should visit the ‘Maria Opferung’ church in the village of Riezlern. We were strolling around - as a matter of fact looking for a nice café - and saw some people coming out of this village church; that inspired us to take a look inside.
Once inside we were absolutely surprised by the beauty of its interior, which we didn’t expect in such a small village. It had a warm ambiance, intensified by the rays of sunshine through the painted glass windows. The church has beautiful altars, paintings against the walls, a ceiling with numerous frescos, a carved pulpit and colourful painted glass windows. The more or less ‘common’ organ was a little bit disappointing.
The church isn’t obviously a touristic highlight and most probably you will be alone with some locals, who are praying, lighting a prayer candle or just seeking the silence of ‘Maria Opferung’.
- Arts and Culture
- Religious Travel
Breitachklamm - natural phenomenon
During one of our ‘Oberstdorf days’ it was snowing too much and we were looking for something else than a skiing. Having seen some nice pictures of the Breitachklamm in winter it was quite easy deciding for this gorge nearby Oberstdorf.
Following the signs for ‘Tiefenbach’ and ‘Breitachklamm’ we reached the huge car park, where we had to pay for it; little bit strange and felt quite unfriendly. The modern entrance building has a nice exhibition about the (history of) the gorge with a model and a video.
The footpath took us to the river Breitach, which we followed upstream. Slowly but surely the scenery became more and more impressive: the gorge narrower and narrower, the rock walls on both sides higher and higher. Everywhere around we did see waterfalls of ice and more and more icicles on overhanging rocks.
The path is going up and down and crossed the river. Here starts the most impressive part of the gorge: the noise of the streaming river down below, high rising rock walls, almost no daylight and ice, icicles and ice curtains everywhere. A sign indicates the level of the water during a couple of floods and it is just unbelievable that it did raise high above the footpath. Some trunks - jammed between the walls - also indicate the power of the water.
Even during our visit - winter and snowy - the path was very well cleaned and nowhere dangerous or slippery. Back and forth the walk took us 1½ hours, including a lot of (photo)stops.
We turned and walked back to ‘Gasthof Breitachklamm, nearby the entrance of the gorge and had a coffee with an ‘Apfelstrudel’, still enjoying the beauty of this natural phenomenon in an magical winter wonderland.
(You also can make a loop walk through ‘Dornach Alpe’, but I really don’t know if it is possible in winter.)
Opening hours: winter 9.00 am – 4.00 pm; summer 9.00 am – 5.00 pm
Due to melting snow and ice the gorge also can be closed for visitors!
Admission (2013): adults € 3,50, discount with guest card.
- Hiking and Walking
Loretto Chapels – Lorettokapellen
These chapels are officially named: ‘St. Loretto-Kapellen’, being an ensemble of three different roman catholic chapels. They are named after Loreto (near Ancona), an Italian place of pilgrimage.
The ‘Appach Chapel (Appachkapelle) is the oldest, already built in 1493, and smallest of the three. Three of the interior walls of the chapel do have lovely gothic frescos.
When this chapel became too small for the pilgrims the Loretto Chapel (also called Mary’s Chapel) was built between 1657 and 1677. This octagonal Lorettokapelle has a dome and nowadays still is the most important of the three chapels and is still used for masses.
The chapel has a stunning interior with a beautiful altar and splendid painted ceiling, carved sculptures and paintings.
The third Joseph’s Chapel (Josefskapelle) is the youngest one, although built in the 17th century. It has a nice altar, but to be honest we found this chapel a little bit sober and empty, although it has some work of local artists.
Coming back from a day of skiing our visit to these pilgrimage chapels was an interesting break. I think it is a ‘must see’ for church and art-lovers.
Opening hours: Monday, Wednesday and Friday: 9.00 – 11.30 am; Tuesday and Thursday: 9.00 – 11.30 am and 2.00 – 5.00 pm; Saturday and Sunday: closed
More info/pictures (German): http://www.oberstdorf-online.info/gebaeude/loretto.htm
- Religious Travel
- Arts and Culture
St. Johannes Baptist Church
The start of the construction of St. Johannes Baptist Church was first mentioned in the year of 991 in chronicles, although there is also the text of a dedication inscription of 1141.
In 1865, two thirds of the town was destroyed by the great fire, including the church in the village center with its valuable interior. Only the enclosing walls and the burnt tower kept left. Among the 146 destroyed houses was also the parsonage of the church.
The reconstruction of the church was carried out in 1866. In addition to the tower the still-standing walls of the ship could be used; the nave was elevated and extended eastward and equipped with a newly built choir.
The conspicuous and tall (66 m.) tower of the St. Johannes Baptist Church can be considered as the landmark of Oberstdorf. Doesn’t matter what direction we were approaching the town, we also could see the tower. And when strolling around in the town one can not miss the church in the heart of Oberstdorf.
The exterior - most probably due to the fire - isn’t remarkable at all, but once we entered this parish church we were surprised by its beauty and brightness. It has a couple of beautiful altars, all with colourful carved decorations.
Beside the main altar we saw two side altars: Whitsun Altar (left hand side) and the Christmas Altar (right hand side). It was even more – and for us quite unexpected – attractive, because there were end of January still nice Christmas decorations in the church.
The church has a nice pulpit and quite a lot of paintings and other sculptures; most of them are originals which survived the great fire. Opposite the main altar is the huge organ of the church.
If just strolling around in town, do like us, and take a look inside.
- Arts and Culture
Nebelhorn for non-skiers
During our stays in Oberstdorf we did see a lot of people who obviously were non-skiers. Especially for those is this tip (although skiers could do it too): when the town has one of these days with crystal blue skies, I highly recommend a visit to the Nebelhorn.
The cable car - base station in the eastern part of Oberstdorf - will bring you in about 20 minutes to station Höfatsblick. Have a break or take the cable car to the top of the Nebelhorn at a height of 2.224 metres. The peak station has a café/restaurant and a terrace (quite windy during our visit) with great views. These are even better when you climb - be careful the steps can be very icy - to the summit cross. A small deck offers a really breathtaking panoramic view of 400 mountains. It is said one can see the Zugspitze, Lechtaler Alps and even the Alps in Switzerland, but to be honest I didn’t recognize them.
If you are lucky you may see paragliders starting from the top of the Nebelhorn.
Back at Station Höfatsblick there are two footpaths: one round trip near the station and the other to a viewpoint Zeigersattel to enjoy the great views of the mountains around Oberstdorf. We did see a lot of people doing this walk of about 1 hour. Both walks are signposted from Höfatsblick.
Just behind the station are some snow-igloos cut into the snow. You can stroll around and take a look inside one of the ‘bedrooms’ or even have a cold or warm drink in the Iglu-bar. It seems to be possible to stay at night in one of the igloos (must be very cold). See for more info (German): www,iglu-lodge.de
Before descending to Oberstdorf have a lunch or just a drink on one of the terraces at Höfatsblick: Marktrestaurant, Skibar Gemsnest or Edmund-Probst-Haus (a traditional mountain lodge).
Opening times: mid December - late April
Opening hours: 8.30 am - 5.00 pm
Rates: special tickets for non-skiers
- Hiking and Walking
Nebelhorn cable car
The valley station for the Nebelhorn cable car is close to the centre and you can get up to the Nebelhorn summit (2.224m), via two transfer stations. At the top you have several hiking options and I guess also fantastic views. But as I’m afraid of heights, this cable car looks very scary to me! It’s also really expensive (almost 30€ for a return ticket to the top for adults), although in selected accommodations in Oberstdorf, the cable car is included in the overnight stay.
- Hiking and Walking
Spa gardens and "Oberstdorf Haus"
Oberstdorf is a spa town because of its climate and air quality, and there’s a thermal bath, a salt therapy “cave” and other facilities. A spa town typically also has spa garden, and there’s also one in Oberstdorf. It’s rather small, with a nice pond with some fishes and a small bridge. There are also various sculptures in that garden, and there’s a band-stand.
Next to the spa garden is the “Oberstdorf Haus”. All kind of events take place there like theatre, concerts and lectures. You here find the tourist information, although there’s also one at the train station which even is open Sundays. Besides, The Oberstdorf Haus hosts a library and there are several conference rooms.
- Spa and Resort
The Jauß villa was built 1895 by the master brewer Melchior Jauß. It’s a wooden house and rather Italian style. The Jauß family lived in that house until 1965, and today the building is used for art exhibitions, with varying exhibits. There’s also a large park next to the house.
- Museum Visits