Kristallglasmanufaktur Theresienthal
Crystal clear!

Craftsmen have been creating and working with glass for 700 years. On the Bavarian Glass Route from Waldsassen through the Bavarian Forest to Passau, glassworks, museums and glass artists provide interesting facts about the delicate, fragile material. 12 stops along the route

Reading time: 16 minutes

Eastern Bavaria’s Glass Route: 12 Highlights

Schiff aus Glas in den Gläsernen Gärten beim Glasmuseum Frauenau

On the Road: The Glass Route

The art of glassmaking has had a strong presence in the Upper Palatinate and Bavarian Forest since the 14 th century. The reason was the region’s abundance of wood as a source of energy and quartz as the main raw material. As a primordial rock, it was available everywhere. The Glass Route takes you on five routes to attractions related to glass, glassblowing workshops, galleries, museums and glass artists. Of course, also to many shopping opportunities. Famous companies include Nachtmann Bleikristallwerke, Glashütte Eisch and Zwiesel Kristallglas.

The stops run between Waldsassen and Weiden in the north, from Waidhaus to the Lamer Winkel, between Arber and Frauenau, Regen and Viechtach and from the Bavarian Forest National Park to Passau in the south. Hiking trails also stop at glass-making sites, including the Gläserne Steig (Glass Trail), the Glasschleiferweg (Glass Cutter’s Trail) and the historic Glashüttenwanderweg (Glassworks Hiking Trail). (only in German)

Glashütte der Kristallglasmanufaktur Theresienthal

Explosions of Colour: Lamberts in Waldsassen

The Glass Route begins in Waldsassen. The town is famous for its abbey basilica, the library in the Cistercian monastery and the baroque Holy Trinity Church of Kappl. Lambert Glas has its headquarters here. The company produces mouth-blown genuine antique glasses. “Antique” refers to the traditional production process. The three millimetre thick and sixty by ninety centimetre compositions of light, glass and colour possess unique “transparency, brilliance and physicality”.

Over five thousand colour blends are available. They are used in glass artworks, church windows as well as buildings and adorn airports, churches, synagogues and private homes worldwide. Examples include the Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver, a metro station in Shenzhen or the Kaiserdom in Speyer. The spectacular light panels also grace many living rooms as real eye-catchers!


Innenansicht eines bemalten Fensters der Gläserne Scheune

Walls Full of Stories: The Gläserne Scheune (Glass Barn) in Viechtach

Glass artist Rudolf Schmid has captured legends and sagas from the Arberland region in murals. For example, events from the life of Mühlhiasl, a mysterious “fortune teller”, or the story of the legendary robber Heigl, a kind of Robin Hood from Bad Kötzting. You can admire the over 200 square metres of painted glass surfaces in the “Gläsernen Scheune”, a complete work of art made of glass and wood.

It is located five kilometres northeast of Viechtach. Other artists from the Schmid family exhibit their works and jewellery made of wood and glass in an adjoining gallery. The carved barn door, which tells of the customs of Rauhnacht, is also worth seeing. (only in German)

Das Glasdorf

With a Special Touch: Glass Village in Arnbruck

The ancestors of the Weinfurtner family were already making glass around 1500. Today, the Weinfurtners have expanded their lead crystal manufactory with glass cutting, glass engraving and a glass furnace into an experience location called “Weinfurtner DAS GLASDORF”. It is located in Arnbruck southeast of Bad Kötzting.

Visitors can experience how unique objects are created from a hot, viscous mass: Glasses, jewellery, art objects. You can see how glass cutters and engravers refine the products and give them a special touch. Glass fusing is a special technique in which pieces of glass are fused together. Guests can enjoy refreshments provided by a pub, a bistro, a café and a bar! (only in German)


Besucherin im Glasmuseum Frauenau

Journey of discovery: Frauenau Glass Museum

The community at the foot of the Rachel is the right place to honour this fascinating material in a museum. Because of its centuries-old glassmaking tradition, Frauenau is also known as “The Glass Heart of the Bavarian Forest”. Designed as a glass roundabout, the museum guides its visitors through the cultural history of glass, from its beginnings in Mesopotamia to the present day. The collection features exhibits of international standing such as baroque luxury glass, mirrors and crystal chandeliers as well as artistic glass of the modern era.

The museum also focuses on the cultural significance of glass for Bavaria and neighbouring Bohemia. Another focus is the artistic Studio Glass movement, whose European pioneer, the Frauenau artist Erwin Eisch, is featured with various works. The collection is complemented by special exhibitions. Shopping in the museum shop, coffee and cake in the cafeteria, open-air sculptures in the Glass Garden.

Kristallglas in Thersienthal wird von Hand bemalt

Regal: Theresienthal Crystal Glass Manufactory

The glassworks was founded in 1836 as the “Königlich Privilegierte Theresienthaler Kristallglasfabrik”, or Royal Privileged Theresienthal Crystal Glass Factory. King Ludwig I commissioned the Bohemian glass merchant Franz Steigerwald to do so. The latter named the glassworks and the small valley near Zwiesel in which it was built after Ludwig's wife Queen Therese (she is also the patron saint of the famous “Theresienwiese” in Munich).

The manufactory won over illustrious customers with its luxurious products. King Ludwig II,  for example, furnished Linderhof Palace with glasses from Theresienthal, and the Tsar’s court and the French Empress Eugenie also received glassware.

Just like back then, the glassmakers at the manufactory still make their fine glasses, tumblers and accessories by hand – from turning the wooden moulds to blowing in the glass, modelling the stem, applying the glass appliqués and engraving, cutting and painting. In addition to the historical glass shapes, there are modern designs. Factory sale and tour of the works are possible.


From the hands of masters: Hirtreiter Glass Art

Hirtreiter started out purely as an art workshop for glass engraving more than 60 years ago. Founder Georg Hirtreiter was an internationally renowned glass engraver in the 1920s. Today, you can find drinking glasses, vases, lampshades as well as jewellery and decorative items in different price ranges in the two shops in Frauenau (Hauptstraße 4 and Grafenauer Straße 22).

Hirtreiter says it is also the most important supplier of glass from the hands of the masters at the Zwiesel glass school. Craftsmanship, innovation and the extraordinary kiln finishing technique are what set them apart – the vases and bowls are an insider tip for connoisseurs and collectors. The range also includes glasses, vases and objects from the Theresienthal crystal glass manufactory, the “hut of kings, emperors and tsars” of times long past. (only in German)



Dazzling and shimmering: The Glass Forest

In the small town of Regen, a small forest of unique trees grows at the foot of the Weißenstein castle ruins: the thirty firs, spruces, beeches, pines and aspens are all made of iridescent, coloured flat glass! The tallest tree, a fir, is eight metres high. The Gläserne Wald is a tourist attraction and a work of art at the same time. No two trees are alike. The light of the sun refracts in colourful, cone-shaped treetops, shimmers on circular branches and jagged twigs or travels along spiralling trunks. In the dark, ground spotlights make the fairytale-like structures glow. The Weissenstein ruins rest on a quartz rock, which was once an important castle complex.


Art and Tradition: Eisch Germany

The glassmaking tradition of the Eisch family goes back to 1689 and as far as Bohemia. The glassworks in Frauenau was founded by Valentin Eisch in 1946. His son Erwin is considered a pioneer of the artistic Studio Glass movement in Europe. He also helped develop the concept of the glass museum in Frauenau. Eisch Germany specialises in the design of glass as a creative element of sophisticated table setting.

Already in its fourth generation, the multi-award-winning company is dedicated to glass design and finishing with the help of cutting, engraving, sandblasting or painting, as well as innovations in the wine sector. Visitors can experience the creation of a glass product during factory tours – and purchase glass pieces from the collection in the factory shop. A gallery displays works by studio glass artists. The Eisch Glassworks is directly connected to the Frauenau Glass Museum through the Glass Gardens

Glasbläser in Frauenau bei der Arbeit
Raumansicht Passauer Glasmuseum

Europe’s Heart of Glass: Passau Glass Museum

At the southern end of the Glass Route, in Passau, the Glass Museum offers a great overview of four centuries of European glass production. More than 30,000 glasses – of which about 15,000 are on display – reflect the great diversity of glass production in Bavaria, Bohemia and Silesia from 1650 to 1950. It was here, in the heart of Central Europe, that the great glass centres that supplied Europe with utility and art glass in the 19th century were located.

The glassworks were dependent on wood as a fuel and therefore settled in the densely forested low mountain ranges to the north and south of Prague. The items in the museum – glasses, vases, bowls and more – are arranged room by room according to glassworks. The museum is located in the historical building complex “Wilder Mann” directly at Rathausplatz, or town hall square. (only in German)

Bunte Figuren der Gläsernen Krippe bei Glasscherben Köck

Upcycling! Glasscherben Köck (Glass Shards Köck) in Riedlhütte

Glass has been produced in Riedlhütte near Spiegelau since 1450. The Köck family business has been reviving this tradition since 1994 with an innovative idea: it uses shards from the glass industry and creates something new from them. Glasses, bowls, design objects are handcrafted, as well as the world’s first glass maypole! In the small studio glassworks, each glass piece is mouth-blown, shaped and fire-finished.

Visitors can watch the process live. Köck also cultivates a special tradition: the production of genuine “forest glass”, recognisable by its greenish colour, which is caused by iron oxides contained in the quartz sand of the region. The glassworks includes a small pub with a beer garden and the unique forest-glass garden with glass trees, animals and other objects. (only in German)

Glaskünstlerin Magdalena Paukner in den Gläsernen Gärten


The Magnificent Glass Artist Magdalena Paukner

Magdalena Paukner (link) was born in Zwiesel and lives nearby, in Lindberg. As a graduate of the glass school, she is a state-approved glass designer and holds a master craftswoman’s certificate. Magdalena Paukner has been working as a freelance glass artist since 2013. Her trademarks are bright colours and filigree pieces, her works are sometimes lovingly playful, sometimes imaginatively wacky, but also down-to-earth and solid.

Her products include jewellery, vases, tumblers and carafes, bowls, lampshades and more. “Nature is my greatest role model in my work,” she says. One of her most famous works of art can be admired in the Glass Gardens. It is called "Das Urkraut", or "The Ancient Herb", and features giant horsetails. Customers can find more practical products in her studio. And those who have bought one of her artistic pieces usually come back, says Magdalena. (only in German)

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