Fotoeins Fotografie

questions of place & home

Posts tagged ‘Via Raetia’

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%.

More

•   Alpenpässe.
•   Bergfex.
•   KulturAtlas.
•   Seefeld.com: Scharnitz | Porta Claudia | Kulturwanderweg Scharnitz.
•   Scharnitz.gv.at: Porta Claudia | Wissenwertes.

# “Scar” (noun), 2nd etymological meaning.
% I entered the European Union at Frankfurt am Main international airport where I went through passport check and control.
^ The Scharnitz bypass tunnel “Porta Claudia” opened 10 November 2018: ORF.at | Land Tirol.


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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.

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

I took care of that with two visits within a 15-month interval.

Wandering through Mittenwald is a delight because of the abundant fresh mountain air, picturesque surroundings, and the easy compact nature of the town. It’s a very familiar refrain for alpine towns in this part of the world.

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 clouds break in spring and summer, it seems like an endless vista of blue skies and lakes along with green meadows and mountains to accompany your time outside on walks and hikes in the area.


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Augsburg: Fugger, Luther, & water in Germany’s 3rd oldest city

Above/featured: Facing north on Maximilianstrasse: Steigenberger Hotel Drei Mohren (left), Fuggerhäuser (orange) – HL, 12 Mar 2017.

Why Augsburg?

  • Fugger family legacy
  • Martin Luther and the Reformation legacy
  • Water supply management, newly inscribed World Heritage Site

I had come to Augsburg to find and understand traces Martin Luther left behind in the city. What I learned was the extent of the lasting legacy provided by the Fugger family, and how the city has for centuries provided safe clean water to her citizens, and how that water management system has become world-renowned as a piece of cultural heritage, forming the basis of an application for recognition as a World Heritage Site.

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Hafelekar, Nordkette, Nordkette cable car, Nordkettenbahn, Hungerburg funicular, Hungerburgbahn, Innsbruck, Tirol, Tyrol, Oesterreich, Austria, fotoeins.com

Tirol Tour: short jumps from Innsbruck

As one of nine states within the federal republic of Austria, Tirol is well known not only for all-season access to the Alps, but also for a variety of other attractions.

With transport authorities IVB Innsbruck, VVT Tirol, and ÖBB Austria, Tirol state capital Innsbruck was the base from which I travelled to Alpbach (half-day), Brenner (half-day), Hall in Tirol (half-day), Nordkette (half-day), Scharnitz (half-day), Stubaital (half-day), and Wilder Kaiser (full day).


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Am Quicken, Klais, Krün, Mittenwald, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Upper Bavaria, Oberbayern, Bavaria, Bayern, Germany, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday: Am Quicken im Schnee (Mittenwald)

The town of Klais has over one thousand years of history. That’s not obvious looking out from the train passing through between Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Mittenwald. But within easy reach on foot are the ruins of the Scharnitz monastery, the remnant of a Roman road, and open fields with views like the one above to Wettersteinspitzen.

(The approach on foot in winter is possible on groomed paths from Mittenwald or from Klais itself.)

I made the picture above on 1 March 2017 with the Canon 6D, 24-105 glass, and the following settings: 1/800-sec, f/20, ISO1000, 47mm focal length. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins.com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-aMa.

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