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’.
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.
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
After a night with heavy snowfall it was more or less impossible to ski and we decided on one of our first dayys 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 ‘lot of euros’. The Erdinger Sportalp – a café/restaurant – could be another possibility, but one of the waitresses was so rude, that we 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. .
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. Unfortunately it was too dark for taking a quality picture. Have to try it next time again.
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’.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
The Pestkapelle is a memorial for the victims of the pest. The black death first came to Oberstdorf in autumn 1629 and caused 39 deaths. A few years later, in 1634/1635, it got really bad: 800 deaths of 1200 inhabitants.
This very small chapel was built in the 17th century and was rebuilt in 1950. It’s dedicated to St Sebastian and St Rochus, the patron saints of pest.
The Seelenkapelle is a chapel next to the parish church St Johannes Baptist. It was used as bone house and is found on the grounds of the old cemetery. Today it’s a war memorial chapel.
The chapel was built in the 16th century and fortunately was not destroyed during the great fire in 1865. On the northern face, you’ll find impressive renaissance frescos from the 16th century.
At the market square in the centre, you’ll find the church “St Johannes Baptist” which is dedicated to John the Baptist. The earlier church was destroyed during the great fire in 1865, only the enclosing walls and the tower were left. The church was rebuilt in the following year then.
At the market square, you find two town halls, the old one and the new one.
The “Alte Rathaus” (old town hall”) was built in the 15th century and first was a dance house and village court. Today you here find a kind of natural museum with the exhibition “Bergschau”.
The “Neue Rathaus” (new town hall) was first built 1803 and had to be rebuild in 1866 after the great fire. It was used as school and only became town hall in 1908. It has a nice facade – the left painting is showing spa guests who are using the newly build train to Oberstdorf (1888) and the right painting is showing the elevation of Oberstdorf to a market town by the emperor Maximilian I (1495).
Close to Oberstdorf is a ski flying hill. I’m pretty ignorant concerning all kind of sports, and I had to learn that ski flying is not the same as ski jumbing – it’s even more crazy, having a larger hill size so that you can jump farther (record is 225m). There are only 5 such ski flying hills in Europe.
The ski flying hill in Oberstdorf is named after Heini Klopfer, who was the architect and skijumper that was constructing it.
You can visit the jump and even can get up to it via chairlift & elevator.