An enchanting town in Bavaria renowned for its grand castle, ancient basilica, beautiful monastery and the stunning scenery that surrounds them.
Only three miles (five kilometers) north of the Austrian border, the tiny town of Füssen is home to just 14,000 inhabitants, yet is blessed with a rich Bavarian culture and heritage. It is located on the banks of the Lech River which flows into the man-made lake, the Forggensee. Füssen is the highest town in Bavaria, at over 2,600 feet (790 meters) above sea level.
In recent decades Füssen has become best known as Germany’s southern end point of the Via Claudia, or Romantic Road, part of a Roman route stretching over the Alps from Venice, linking a long series of picturesque towns and castles. The points on the route were chosen for their fine scenery and cultural attractions.
Walk through the town and you will discover the oldest fresco in Bavaria at the crypt of St. Mang Basilica, dating back to around the year 980. St. Mang’s Feast Day, on September 6, is lovingly commemorated with a Holy Mass and procession through the old town. The town also sits just below the Tegelberg ski area, which is popular not only for winter skiers but also summer hikers. Visitors take a lift to the top and enjoy the view, hiking trails and the small restaurants on the mountains.
Yet much of what makes Füssen so special is what surrounds it. Less than two miles (three kilometers) away from the town you can visit Neuschwanstein, a towering structure renowned across the world. This is famed as the fairytale home of Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria, as well as the castle flown over in the film “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle is modeled after the Neuschwanstein. You can hike up to the castle, or take a bus to the top of its hillside location.
Take a 30-minute bus ride from Füssen in Steingaden and you’ll discover Wieskirche, a pilgrimage church and one of the world’s foremost Rococo masterpieces, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Travel a little further to the east to walk the ancient ruins of the castle Falkenstein, near Pfronten.
There's no denying Füssen deserves its coveted spot at the climax of Europe's most scenic route.