Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a mountain resort town in Bavaria, southern Germany, in the heart of the Alps. Garmisch and Partenkirchen were originally two different towns that were joined by a decree of Adolf Hitler to bring the 1936 Winter Olympics to Germany. The International Olympic Committee was going to pass over Germany as the host, because there were not enough hotel rooms in the host town, so Hitler forced the unification of Garmisch and Partenkirchen to create a larger town, which would be more appealing to the IOC.
Being located at the base of the country’s tallest mountain – Zugspitze (more than 9,000 feet) – the town made the perfect candidate for the Winter Olympics in 1936 where the first alpine skiing competition was held. Today Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a tourist and winter sports centre and has some of Germany’s best skiing areas.
During the winter the slopes surrounding the town are amazing for skiers and sightseers alike. During the summer months hours can be spent hiking the many trails and enjoying the panoramic views. With all the alpine lakes, boating is also popular, and both boats and mountain bikes are easy to rent in the area. There is a cogwheel train trip up to the top of the Zugspitze mountain which is an event in itself and a shorter 10-minute cable car ride with amazing views.
Aside from the scenic location, what makes this small town so endearing are all the enchanting Upper Bavarian-styled homes, beautifully adorned with painted scenes and window boxes exploding with flowers. The Bavarians have a long history of decorating the exteriors of their houses and businesses with both religious and historic paintings. Almost every buildings in Garmisch-Partenkirchen have unique murals on the outside walls of the buildings. Some depict an event or animals and other paintings make the buildings look like they have things (windows, statues, etc.) that really are not there. Just walking around the town is a real treat.
Also worth seeing in town is the 18th century parish church of St. Martin just off Marienplatz with beautiful stuccowork by the Wessobrunn school of painters. Another St. Martin’s Church across the Loisach River is even older. This Gothic church dates from 1280 and has a huge St. Christopher wall painting.