(Mostly overcast conditions in autumn, October 2011.)
They are six syllables, almost a mouthful, but the two words also represent hiking, climbing, trekking, skiing, Olympic history, and Alpine grandeur.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen is located about 90 kilometres (55 miles) southwest from München, and can be reached in about 90 minutes with Deutsche Bahn regional-trains. With the town’s close proximity to the Austrian border, additional trains direct passengers onwards to the Austrian towns of Reutte and Innsbruck.
In preparation for the 1936 Winter Olympics, the neighbouring towns of Garmisch and Partenkirchen were merged in 1935 to form a single entity. According to “Placenames of the World: Origins and Meanings of the Names for 6,600 Countries, Cities, Territories, Natural Features, and Historic Sites” by Adrian Room (2005):
Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Town, southern Germany. The present town was formed in 1935 on the amalgamation of the two communities Garmisch and Partenkirchen. The former name means “Germar’s district,” the latter “(settlement of the) Parthians by the church.”
Many arrive in Garmisch-Partenkirchen for day hikes into one of two gorges in the area: Partnachklamm and Höllentalklamm. Longer daytrips include a visit to Mittenwald or an ascent to Zugspitze, the highest peak in Germany.
In town, there are small narrow cobblestone streets, few cars, and many colourful buildings built in a distinctive Bavarian architectural style. Garmisch feels more modern, whereas Partenkirchen has retained its old Bavarian charm. The combined town is contained neatly at the junction of the Loisach and Partnach rivers, in a broad valley surrounded by a crown of mountains. There must be something in the crisp air and the snowmelt; some consider Garmisch-Partenkirchen as a base for daytrips, but the town itself is worthy of discovery.
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