The "Blue Land" in Autumn is Idyllic for Hikers and Art Lovers

Matthias Brunnert, DPA, October 25, 2011

The evening sun brings out the red and yellow of the old beech trees along the banks. A paddle boat moves over the water, and far off in the mist the Alps can be seen.

This is the so-called "Blue Land," a region of picturesque countryside in the Alpine foothills in Bavaria, southern Germany. Here the Staffelsee Lake near Seehausen is an ideal spot to relax in after a tour around the biggest lake of the Blue Land area.

The year 2011 is the year of blue in the Blue Land. It's the 100 centenary of the artist group Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) and also the 125th anniversary of the death of King Ludwig II of Bavaria, whose favourite colour was blue. There were a number of exhibitions and events for this occasion, but things in the Blue Land have calmed down in autumn, something that has many hikers happy.

Hikers should plan a full day for the 20-kilometre trek around the Staffelsee Lake. The path from Seehausen starts along the southern bank of the lake then leads through a secluded moor and conservation areas.

About two-thirds along the way is the holiday resort Uffing, where the guesthouse Alpenblick (Alps View) offers a place to stop at a beer garden along the water. Those who have had enough walking after 13 kilometres can continue on by ship.

The main town of the Blue Land is Murnau. The landmarked pedestrian zone is abuzz even on foggy autumn days. The main points of interest are Murnau's cultural attractions. They include the Muenter House and the Castle Museum with paintings from the Blue Rider artist group such as Gabriele Muenter, Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc.

On a slope above the city centre is a house where the Muenter lived with Kandinsky at the beginning of the 20th century. A number of the works survived the Nazi times in the Muenter House. Nowadays, in addition to furniture and other belongings from the artist, a number of paintings from the Blue Rider artist group can be viewed.

Just more than a quarter-hour drive from Murnau is the Franz Marc Museum in Kochel am See. The simple yet impressive new building presents numerous works from Marc and his contemporaries, including Muenter, Kandinsky, Paul Klee and August Macke.

A must-see for nature-lovers is the hiking route through the Murnau moor. The surface alone of this area, which is unique in central Europe, stretches over 23 square kilometres. Shortly after the start from the parking lot near the Guesthouse Aehndl, it's worth it to take a detour to the eighth century Georgskircherl, one of the oldest churches in the Staffelsee area.

The path leads over a long stretch to Lindenbach. And even if the mountains can hardly be imagined on some murky autumn days, the view of the moor can stretch to the edge of the Alps. The Murnau moor is also the largest protected breeding area for birds in southern Germany. Even beavers have called this area home for years.