Germany's highest point is the eastern peak of the Zugspitze. It measures exactly 2962 meters. On its massif, the roof of the republic also offers Germany's highest house, post office, hotel, restaurant and ski resort, but above all a 360-degree panoramic view that, in good weather, provides a view of around 400 Alpine peaks in four countries.
In Kaiser's day, the Zugspitze was considered a small stump in the Alps compared to the 5895-meter Kilimanjaro, once called Kaiser-Wilhelm-Spitze. A height of 2962 meters for the Zugspitze eastern peak may impress the Germans, but its European neighbors are much less impressed. But quite independent of all the numbers and records: Germans love their Zugspitze. It is a myth, the summit of the nation and compulsory material for schoolchildren. Anyone who has been to the top understands this. After all, what could be better than a summit experience around the northernmost Alpine glacier? At most two encores: the Zugspitze during sunset or a trip on full moon nights to the plateau for the no less brilliant moonrise.
The highest mountain in Germany belongs to the Wetterstein Mountains and is located on the border of Bavaria and Tyrol. In good weather, a magnificent panoramic view of up to 400 peaks from the Piz Bernina to the Ortler, the Wildspitze to the Großglockner as well as to Munich in the north and Italy with the Dolomites in the south possible. Several mountain railroads lead to the top. The easiest route on foot is the path through the Partnachklamm gorge, for which up to 14 hours should be planned and 2200 meters of altitude must be overcome.
Around 500,000 mountain friends visit the Zugspitze every year. Some live there temporarily because they accompany the "highest" jobs in the republic, such as the meteorologists working 24-hour shifts or the scientists from the Max Planck Institute who are on the trail of cosmic radiation. A few others spend the night where the wind whistles (sometimes at more than 200 kilometers per hour), where the temperature sometimes drops to Arctic levels, where the spirits rage when the last mountain railroad went downhill. After the end of hotel operations was sealed in 1992, tourists can now sleep in an igloo village on the Zugspitze. It consists of frozen water from December to April - from the beds, walls and ceilings to the bar. The winter starry sky and the grandiose panorama with nature as far as the eye can see serve as a backdrop - even from the two whirlpools. And for dinner, it's off to the restaurant igloo, in whose ice niches visitors can ponder Germany's highest mountain on cozy furs. By the way, it even has its own zip code: 82475 stands for the peak of emotions.
You can reach the Zugspitze daily with the Cogwheel train (Garmisch-Zugspitzplatt), the Zugspitz cable car (Eibsee- Zugspitz summit) and the Glacier lift (Zugspitzplatt-Zugspitzgipfel) in the core opening hours from 8:00 to 16:45. With the new Eibsee cable car completed in December 2017, this is one of the highest cable cars in the world.
The Tyrolean Zugspitze Railway runs daily on the Austrian side from Ehrwald between 8:40 and 16:40.
Cover photo: Futuristic annexes complement the Schneefernerhaus, which today serves climate research © picture-alliance / DUMONT Bildarchiv | Reinhard Eisele
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