Being deeply committed to barrier-free tourism and hospitality is a time-honoured tradition across the Lake Chiemsee-Alpenland region. That’s why this chapter of the Bavaria picture book has so many pages dedicated to the subject of inclusion. We went there to take a uniquely hands-on medieval history tour. Later we jumped headlong into a volcanic inferno.
Experience Chiemsee-Alpenland accessible
SPONSORED STORY Fingers run along the stucco, fancifully sculpted to look like it’s the only thing propping the Frauenkirche’s baroque pulpit up. A hand brushes across the ancient nameplates decorating the creaking pews. It traverses the details of the city’s lion-adorned coat of arms, riding along the escutcheon as if it were a rollercoaster mounted on the town hall’s mighty wooden doors. And it explores the mysterious pyramid-shaped pile of cannonballs around the corner.
Lobbing Cannonballs at Bayern Munich
The ‘Denkmal der Bürgertreue’ [Monument to Allegiance], located inside the Rathaus, is a towering pile of giant stone spheres commemorating the four-week-long siege of Wasserburg in 1422. Fighting in defence of the city was Duke Louis VII, or Louis the Bearded as he was known to the citizens of Wasserburg. Facing off against him were his cousin, Duke Henry the Rich, and mighty Bayern-Munich! No, not that Bayern-Munich. We’re talking about the dukes of Bavaria-Munich, whom the fearless citizens of Wasserburg ended up routing and putting to flight.
Told against the backdrop of the Wasserburg skyline, the town’s history feels like it was ripped from the pages of an epic fantasy. And yet there’s nothing fictitious about the charming Wasserburg am Inn, where ‘please do touch’ is the motto.
We were incredibly fortunate to be joined on our tour of the city today by Brigitte Lindmeier. Lindmeier’s visual acuity is unfortunately not what it used to be. ‘I just have to move a little closer, that’s all’, she says with a big smile on her face and pulls a magnifier from her bag.
"I just have to get a little closer"
Moving closer is never a bad idea even if you happen to have perfect vision. It takes getting hands-on to discover that the projectiles which late-medieval cannons would fire actually feel more like clumps than spheres. Not far away, an impressive tactile model sculpted in bronze allows visitors to get a literal feel for the city.
If the Inn hadn’t taken an unexpected turn a few thousand years ago, then this one-of-a-kind setting might never have existed. Bending around the city centre almost entirely, the Inn river looks as though a master calligrapher had etched it directly into the idyllic Prealpine landscape.
The peninsula is a miniature world of gorgeous patrician palazzi and secluded arcades, features a twelfth-century castle, and has all the traditional projecting signs you could ever hope for. Together with a colour-coding system, these protruding guild signs once served to help people find their way even if they weren’t able to read.
These days there are even palm trees. There’s nothing like spending an early-summer afternoon in one of Wasserburg’s many lovely cafés, however, to inspire your imagination across the mountains to climes south of the Alps. Despite its modest size, Wasserburg’s city centre is packed full of incredible stories and stunning vistas you have to experience to believe. If you are a person with an impairment who labours with prolonged outings around town, then Wasserburg is an ideal travel destination. Just one of many reasons Wasserburg tour guides take their commitment to inclusion and accessibility so seriously: they understand that making your holiday unforgettable depends on it.
An Idyllic Prealpine Landscape on the Coast of the Bavarian Sea
The people of the Lake Chiemsee-Alpenland region have always been inclusion pioneers. Today, visitors can take advantage of the thirty-eight “Travelling for All” holiday experiences, each of which has earned accessibility certification and places all of the information you need to plan the perfect accessible holiday right at your fingertips.
The range of choices continues to expand every single day. Pretty brilliant when you consider that the Lake Chiemsee area, which is nestled between Munich and Salzburg, contains so many of the destinations you’d expect to find on a Best of Bavaria list. We should start with Lake Chiemsee itself, referred to aptly by many as the ‘Bavarian Sea’.
On chilly summer or fall mornings, it’s typical for the opposite shore to disappear into the horizon with only alpine mountaintops piercing through the distant fog. What a fantastic occasion to experience Fraueninsel and discover the Frauenwörth convent. Another must-see: Located on the neighbouring Herreninsel, Herrenchiemsee is one of the famous fairytale palaces built by King Ludwig II.
Whether you’re looking for outdoor fun or would prefer to go on a ‘cultour’, the Bavarian seaside has you covered. We’ve come up with seven themes to ensure you’ll never lack for accessible holiday inspiration: ‘Watersports and Recreation’, ‘Alpine Panoramas and Outdoor Fun’, ‘Lake Chiemsee Explorer’, ‘Lakes and Marshlands’, ‘Purely Cultural’, ‘Winter Wellness’, and ‘Town and Countryside’.
Destinations such as Wasserburg and the Farmhouse Museum Amerang are great examples of the ‘Town and Countryside’ theme. Visit to the latter to combine a trip back in time with an exploration of contemporary country and cottage gardens. The property is easy to access and is lined with farmhouses and workshops, some of which are 500 years old. Inclusive guided tours in plain language are available by prior arrangement as are tours designed for people with hearing or visual impairments.
Now that you’re fully immersed in the Bavarian countryside, the only thing left to do to make your authentic farm-holiday experience complete is a trip to ‘Ferienhof Dirnberg’, located just around the corner from Amerang. Sitting atop a knoll, overlooking the countryside, and surrounded by wildlife, the Dirnberg farm offers visitors family-friendly and fully-accessible holiday accommodations. Lake Chiemsee is just a short drive away. There are plenty of activities for children as well: goats, sheep, cats, and the Shetland Ponys Dony and Thoey all waiting for the farmstead’s younger guests to come pet them, feed them, and have fun with them.
Multimedia You Can Feel
Rosenheim is absolutely infernal. At least that’s the case for the Lokschuppen Exhibition Centre, which is featuring a magnificent volcano experience through the remainder of 2023. Starting in 1858, the lovely horseshoe-shaped building served as a rolling-stock maintenance facility for over a century. During the 1980s it was converted into a venue for multimedia exhibitions and has been winning acclaim for its spectacular shows ever since. The Lokschuppen Rosenheim is an accessible exhibition centre. Visitors who are blind or have vision impairments can take advantage of audioguides available in German and English. Sign-language interpreters are available for tour guests who are deaf or have hearing impairments by prior arrangement.
The Lokschuppen is a perfect example of what visitors can expect from the ‘Purely Cultural’ inspirational theme, even though the centre happens to be focusing on infernal geology at the moment. Watch some of the most famous and active volcanoes on Earth erupt on giant projector screens in a battle to see which can spit out lava furthest. Visitors can also engage with a series of interactive display panels that explain how volcanoes are formed.
There is an entire room dedicated to the depiction of volcanoes in art. Andy Warhol’s Vesuvius is a must-see. Visitors with hearing impairments don’t have to worry about missing out on all the noise: the bass pumping behind each of the XXL projector screens will hit you right in the gut with its elemental force.
In 2024, the Lokschuppen is scheduled to host an exhibition focusing on historical, contemporary, and fictional heroes and heroins. As usual, it will be accessible to all.