Germany: The Königssee is a natural lake in the southeast Berchtesgadener Land district of the German state of Bavaria, near the Austrian border is among one of the most beautiful lakes in Germany. Many lakes are also located within the Berchtesgaden National Park.
Within the Berchtesgaden Alps in the municipality of Schönau am Königsee, just south of Berchtesgaden and the Austrian city of Salzburg, the Königssee is Germany’s third deepest lake. Located at a Jurassic rift, it was formed by glaciers during the last ice age.
It stretches about 7.7 km (4.8 mi) north-south and is approximately 1.7 km (1 mi) across at its widest point. Except at its outlet, the Königsseer Ache at the village of Königssee, the lake is similar to a fjord and is surrounded by the steeply-rising flanks of mountains up to 2,700 m (8,900 ft), including the Watzmann massif in the west.
The literal translation of the name, Königssee, appears to be “king’s lake”; however, while German: König does indeed mean “king”, there had been no Bavarian kings since the days of Louis the German until Elector Maximilian I Joseph assumed the royal title in 1806. Therefore, the name probably stems from the first name Kuno of local nobles, who appear in several historical sources referring to the donation of the Berchtesgaden Provostry in the twelfth century; the lake was formerly Kunigsee.
The Königssee Railway (Königsseebahn) served the lake from 1909 until 1965. Its last tracks were dismantled in 1971, and in 2012 the former station of the Königssee Railway in Berchtesgaden (Königsseer Bahnhof) was demolished. The only remaining element of the railway is the Königsee station, now a restaurant. The track route is mainly used as a walking path.
In 1944, a sub-camp of the Dachau concentration camp was built near a residence Heinrich Himmler had built at Schönau for his mistress Hedwig Potthast.
The lake is well known for pure and clear water and is famous as the cleanest in the German region. And also, for the same reason, only electric-powered passenger ships, rowing, and pedal boats have been permitted on the lake since 1909. The Bayerische Seenschifffahrt company operates passenger services along the length of the lake and calls at Seelände (Schönau), St. Bartholomä, Salet (mid-April to mid-October), and Kessel (on request). In ideal conditions, the most extended tour takes two hours from Seelände to Salet. Swimming is permitted except in the lock area at Seelände.
In addition, the surrounding sheer rock walls create an echo known for its clarity. On boat tours, stopping and playing a flugelhorn or trumpet has become traditional to demonstrate the echo. Previously shown by shooting a cannon, the echo can be heard to reverberate up to seven times. The trumpeter plays along with the echo so that there can seem to be as many as seven players.