Featured image: The blue and white diamonds (fusils) are a familiar Bavarian symbol, adopted in the late 13th-century by the Wittelsbach family who ruled Bavaria from 1180 to 1918.
As a product of the coastal and mountainous Canadian Southwest, I always feel the pull exerted by the Bavarian Alps regardless of where I am in Germany; it’s been this way over the past 18 years. But there’s more to Bavaria than fairytale castles, Oktoberfest, and BMW, although they’re spot on for the Wurst (sausage). And frankly, there’s a ton more to Germany than Bavaria, but that’s one of many reasons for this entire blogsite after all.
Located in southeast Germany, Bavaria includes more than a half-dozen World Heritage Sites, the pre-Easter Fasching/Fastnacht festival, the sight of Audis on the Autobahn, over one thousand years of wine-making in Franconia, and violin-making since the late 17th-century, among many things to explore, eat, and experience.
The history of Bavaria goes back to at least the Roman Empire in their recognition of the Celtic Boii people settling in border lands north of the Danube river. The word “Bavarian” stems from the Latin “Baiovarii” (people of the Boii). Subsequent centuries saw the development of a duchy, absorption into the Holy Roman Empire, the formation of an independent kingdom, rivalries with Prussia and Austria, becoming a constituent member of the German Empire in the late 19th-century, dissolution in the Nazi Third Reich, post-war reconstruction, a new federal state within West Germany, and now one of 16 federal states within a united Germany. Bavaria is the largest state in size with about 20% of the country’s land area. Bavaria is home to about 13 million people which is about 15% of the country’s total population.
2018 marks two important anniversaries:
- 1818 enactment of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bavaria by Maximilian I Joseph. The parliamentary and constitutional monarchy lasted until November 1918.
- In November 1918, Bavaria was no longer a kingdom and declared a republic or “state”. The official title today is the Free State of Bavaria.
By the end of the 19th-century, Bavaria was one of the first places within a greater German-speaking federation or nation-state where a limited working attempt at democracy* was introduced after centuries of feudal, religious, palatial, and imperial rule. Bavarians will be the first to say they’re an independent lot who’ve always been ahead of their time, even as I struggle mightily with understanding the Bairisch / Boarisch (Bavarian language).
Bavaria, from A to Z
To mark the two anniversaries this year, I highlight a number of locations to provide quick looks throughout Bavaria which have nothing to do with fairy-tale castles or Oktoberfest.
- Augsburg (Schwaben)
- Bamberg (Oberfranken)
- Garmisch-Partenkirchen (Oberbayern)
- Kempten (Schwaben)
- Mittenwald (Oberbayern)
- München (Oberbayern)
- Oberstdorf (Schwaben)
- Passau (Niederbayern)
- Regensburg (Oberpfalz)
- Rothenburg ob der Tauber (Mittelfranken)
- Wallgau (Oberbayern)
- Würzburg (Unterfranken)
- Zugspitze (Oberbayern)
The locations are distributed throughout Bavaria’s seven “Regierungsbezirke” or administrative regions. Click the arrow-window icon at the upper-left corner of the map below for the legend.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber (Mittelfranken)
* German writer Thomas Mann wrote in 1923 for the American magazine “The Dial”: “Bayern und München im Besonderen war demokratisch, lange bevor in Deutschland von ‘Demokratie’ in irgendeinem revolutionären Sinne die Rede war. Es war und ist demokratisch im folkhaft-volkstümlichen, das heißt also: in konservativem Geiste.” (My approximate translation: Bavaria and Munich was in particular democratic long before ‘democracy’ was part of any conversation concerning a revolution in Germany. In a conservative sense, Bavarians have always been democratic at a grassroots level.) His quote was also cited in “Bayern in Zitaten der Welt”, by Brigitta Roth, München 2001, pg. 178. Thomas Mann would go on to win the 1929 Nobel Prize in Literature.
The modern constitution for the Free State of Bavaria is available to view online at the State Chancellery website (in German).
I made all photos above labelled “(HL)” on multiple visits to Bavaria in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, and 2017. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-9gv.