You’ve undoubtedly seen its onion domed roof on many websites or magazines – the 11th Century church of St Bartholoma is one of the world’s most photographed buildings.
The church itself is striking enough, with its contrasting red and white colours. But the location is breath-taking!
St Bartholoma sits on the western shore of the Konigssee, a natural, clear-water lake among the Berchtesgaden Alps in far south-eastern Germany.
The east face of the Wartzmann – Germany’s third-highest mountain – rises in its snow-capped glory behind the site.
Officially known as a pilgrimage church, Sankt Bartholoma can only be reached by ship or a long hike across the mountains.
It adjoins a former palace founded by the Prince-Provosts of Berchtesgaden in 1134.
The current Baroque design of the church – named after the Apostle Saint Bartholomew – is said to date to 1697 and the adjoining palace became a hunting lodge for the kings of Bavaria in about 1810.
Today the former palace and hunting lodge is an inn – and we thoroughly recommend the beer.
As well as photography, Sankt Bartholoma has long been known world-wide as an inspiration for landscape painters.
Each August, a pilgrimage is held over the mountains to the church from the Austrian municipality of Maria Alm.
The 7.7 kilometre long Konigssee is known for its clean, deep waters – and only electric boats are allowed on the waterway.
This is how we journeyed to Sankt Bartholoma and, on the way, the driver of the boat played a small flugelhorn (trumpet) to display the remarkable echo from the surrounding alps.
Back in the day, they apparently fired a gun instead – and the acoustics were even better.
We also passed the tiny island of Christlieger, with its distinctive marble statue of Saint John of Nepomuk, who is said to protect from flooding and drowning.
The famous Bartholoma is located on a peninsula along the shore of the Konigssee lake in the Berchtesgaden area of south-eastern Germany.
Konigssee is close to the Austrian border and can easily be reached from Salzberg.
Although we didn’t try it, visitors to Bartholoma are about an hour’s walk from another of the area’s natural attractions – the Eiskapelle, or ‘Ice Chapel’.
This is a permanent snow and icefield created by avalanches down the east face of the Waltzmann in Spring. The snow accumulates an angled area of the mountain.