One less strenuous way into the Berchtesgaden National Park is by boat. A fleet of 21 excursion boats, electrically driven so that no noise disturbs the peace, operates on the Königsee (King Lake). Only the skipper of the boat is allowed to shatter the silence—his trumpet fanfare demonstrates a remarkable echo as notes reverberate between the almost vertical cliffs that plunge into the dark green water. A cross on a rocky promontory marks the spot where a boatload of
pilgrims hit the cliffs and sank more than 100 years ago. The voyagers were on their way to the tiny, twin-tower baroque chapel of St. Bartholomä, built in the 17th century on a peninsula where an early-Gothic church once stood. The princely rulers of Berchtesgaden built a hunting lodge at the side of the chapel; a tavern and restaurant now occupy its rooms.
Smaller than the Königsee but equally beautiful, the Obersee can be reached by a 15-minute walk from the second stop (Salet) on the boat tour. The lake's backdrop of jagged mountains and precipitous cliffs is broken by a waterfall, the Rothbachfall, which plunges more than 1,000 feet to the valley floor.
Boat service. Boat service on the Königsee runs year-round, except when the lake freezes. A round-trip to St. Bartholomä and Salet, the landing stage for the Obersee, lasts almost two hours, without stops, and costs €16.30. A round-trip to St. Bartholomä lasts a little over an hour and costs €13.30. In summer the Berchtesgaden tourist office organizes evening cruises on the Königsee, which include a concert in St. Bartholomä Church and a four-course dinner in the neighboring hunting lodge. Seestr. 29, Schönau, 83471. 08652/96360. www.bayerische-seenschifffahrt.de.
Königsee, Königsee, Germany