Fotoeins Fotografie

questions of place & home

Posts tagged ‘Karwendelbahn’

My Tirol: Scharnitz and Porta Claudia

Where: Scharnitz, at the northern edge of Austria’s Tirol, next to the Austro-German frontier.
What: Porta Claudia, mid 17th-century fortifications directed by and named after Claudia de’ Medici.
BTW: Scharnitz Pass is technically not a mountain pass.

I’m interested in geography, historical relics, and the topography of European borders.

Scharnitz Pass is one of the lowest crossing points over the Alps at an elevation of only 955 metres (3130 feet) with the Wetterstein mountains on one side to the west and the Karwendel mountains to the other side in the east. The pass might better be described as a “gorge”, given how the Isar river traverses the valley floor between the two sets of mountains. Naturally, a road at this location would’ve been ideal as a vital north-south route for trade and communication, which is why the Romans built the stone road, Via Raetia, through the river valley. A 200-metre section of this old Roman road remains in the woods outside the nearby town of Klais. The location of the pass/gorge is also why the Romans built a guard station “Mansio Scarbia” here to control traffic between the northern outer provinces and the rest of the inner empire to the south.

One of the earliest records from the 8th-century AD/CE documents the establishment of Scaraza Monastery, known also as Scarantia#. The name evolved to “Scaraz”, “Scarbia”, “Scarnize”, and eventually “Scharnitz”. Today, between 1300 and 1400 people live in the Austrian town of Scharnitz in the Tirolean region of Seefeld. The town lies on the road between Innsbruck and Munich and next to the international border between Austria and Germany; the strategic importance of this modest town has never gone away.

“Porta Claudia” is the name of former fortifications on high ground at a narrow curve over the Isar river valley. In the midst of the pan-European Thirty Years War, Claudia de’ Medici, the Regent of Austrian Tirol, ordered in 1632 the construction of a strategic defensive rampart at the Tirol-Bavaria border to protect Tirol’s northern border from invasion by Swedish forces. The Bavarians overran the rampart in 1706, but fortifications were expanded in 1766. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote about passing through Scharnitz in 1786 on his journey into Italy. In 1805, Napolean’s army laid siege and destroyed the fortifications, freeing the path for joint French-Bavarian armed forces to enter Austria. Remnants of the retaining wall up to six metres in height and an archway through the wall are visible today.

I’m up and about at dawn, and within 50 minutes on an S-Bahn Tirol S5 train from Innsbruck, I’m about to satisfy my curiosity about this stretch of the Tirolean landscape in Scharnitz. With the existing Schengen treaty among participating European nations, anyone can walk, bike, or drive freely across the unguarded international border between Austria and Germany%.


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My Mittenwald: mountains, masks, music, Mahlzeit!

Above/featured: From the regional train: facing southwest over Schöttlkarstrasse and the eastern end of the Wettersteinwand at right.

In 1786, the German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe described the alpine town of Mittenwald as “lebendes Bilderbuch” – a living picture-book. Images and descriptions in print and provided by visitors became a real draw and lure. Funny thing is I’d stayed in nearby Garmisch-Partenkirchen several times, and I hadn’t taken the easy 20-minute train hop to Mittenwald.

I took care of that with two visits within a span of 15 months: with and without snow.

Wandering through Mittenwald is a delight because of abundant fresh mountain air, picturesque surroundings, and the compact nature of the town. The description becomes a common refrain for alpine towns.

Mid-winter is special with the combination of seeing mountains freshly frosted with snow, people of all ages wearing masks and costumes during carnival season, houses painted in colourful “Lüftlmalerei”, and the town’s special place in music history. When clear skies dominate in spring and summer, it seems like an endless vista of blue lakes along with green meadows and mountains to accompany your time outside on walks and hikes in the area.


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Mountain goats, fauna, Alpine fauna, Karwendel, Alpinewelt Karwendel, Bergwelt Karwendel, Mittenwald, Bavaria, Bayern, Germany, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday: mountain goats on Austria’s Karwendel

I see movement at the corner of my eye: two little dark blips move slowly against a field of loose rock, boulders, and patches of snow.

At the mountain station of the Karwendel cable car, few venture through the 430-metre (1411 feet) “under rock” tunnel to Dammkar. On the other side is a predominantly east-facing view of the Karwendel mountains along the border ridge between Germany and Austria.

I install the 70-300 glass, and my first guess is that they’re mountain goats. Google Maps tells me later they were at a distance of over 500 metres (550 yards). Even with full-frame and maximum 300mm focal length, I don’t have enough spatial resolution to determine whether the quadrupeds are Alpine ibex (Alpensteinbock) or chamois (Gams). My best guess is that they’re the latter.

Mountain goats, fauna, Alpine fauna, Karwendel, Alpinewelt Karwendel, Bergwelt Karwendel, Mittenwald, Bavaria, Bayern, Germany, fotoeins.com

A pair of mountain goats, most likely Alpine chamois.

I made the above photo on 30 May 2018 with the Canon 6D, 70-300 glass, and the following settings: 1/1000-sec, f/8, ISO1000, and 300mm focal length. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie on fotoeins.com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-bUD.

Bundesstrasse 2, B2, Mittenwald, Karwendel, Bergwelt Karwendel, Bayern, Bavaria, Oberbayern, Upper Bavaria, Germany, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday: Karwendel soars over Mittenwald

On the Bundesstrasse 2* in Upper Bavaria between Munich and Innsbruck is the German Alpine town of Mittenwald next to the Isar river. Towering above town to the east-southeast is the snow-covered wall that is the Karwendel mountain range. The Karwendelbahn gondola takes visitors, hikers and skiiers, and employees of Bergwelt Karwendel up to over 2240 metres (7350 feet) in elevation. The ridge line along the very top is the Germany-Austria border.

* The road signage at the intersection of Mühlenweg and Weidenweg points the way towards German highway Bundesstrasse B2. B2 also has the European (B-class) road label E533.


I made the picture above on 27 February 2017 with the Canon 6D, 24-105 lens, and the following settings: 1/640-sec, f/16, ISO1000, and 24-mm focal length. Die Fotoaufnahme ist mit Wasserzeichen versehen worden. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins.com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-aMd.

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