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Berchtesgaden/Germany

Introducing Berchtesgaden

Wedged into Austria and framed by six formidable mountain ranges, the Berchtesgadener Land is a drop-dead-gorgeous corner of Bavaria steeped in myths and legends. Local lore has it that angels given the task of distributing the earth’s wonders were startled by God’s order to get a move on and dropped them all here. These most definitely included the Watzmann (2713m), Germany’s second-highest mountain, and the pristine Königssee, perhaps Germany’s most photogenic body of water.

Much of the area is protected by law within the Berchtesgaden National Park, which was declared a ‘biosphere reserve’ by Unesco in 1990. The village of Berchtesgaden is the obvious base for hiking circuits into the park.

Away from the trails, the main draws are the mountaintop Eagle’s Nest, a lodge built for Hitler and now a major dark-tourism destination, and Dokumentation Obersalzberg, a museum that chronicles the region’s sinister Nazi past.