Bavaria Experiencing > Scenic Routes > Glass Route

The Glass Route

landscape along the glass route

Discover the charmes of the Glass Route

The "green roof of Europe" is home to an industry that produces the most beautiful treasure of the Bavarian Forest: glass.

A warm welcome to the Bavarian and Upper Palatinate Forest, the home of the Glass Route. Glassworks here have been creating works of art from as long as 500 years ago, and they are still an important part of the local economy today. Glass from eastern Bavaria is highly sought after. Both utility glass by famous manufacturers and art glass pieces made in small workshops are in great demand all over the world.

EremitageThe Glass Route runs for approximately 250 kilometres - 300 kilometres including alternative routes - from Neustadt an der Waldnaab, Europe's "lead crystal capital", to the Passau Glass Museum where over 15,000 examples of glassware from a range of different eras are on display. There is a great deal to see in this "glass kingdom" and many treasures to discover: rare and exquisite glass objects - some centuries old, some finished just a few minutes ago - in museums, galleries and glassworks. Quartz, lime, soda and potash are words that visitors will often hear in Bavaria, where glassblowing is a long and firmly established tradition.

The Glass Route is a relatively new tourist route. It has a stunning backdrop, a sea of spruce, Scots pine and beech trees interspersed with wild flowers in the largest contiguous area of mountainous woodland in central Europe. The process of producing glass - a mystical, magical material - involves fire and glowing heat, a potent contrast with the cool and tranquil beauty of the landscape. Visitor tours are available at numerous glassworks, workshops and art glass manufacturers. There are also sumptuous displays of glass in museums and galleries along the route. Many glass-decoration workshops have large showrooms where visitors can admire and purchase a wide range of glassware. To mention just a couple of examples, between Weiden, Oberviechtach and Rötz, the route leads through what was once the "land of the mirror cutters". And the most magnificent crystal chandeliers are produced in Arnbruck. Music festivals on the theme of glass and glassmaking festivals take place all along the route. Glass is a fascinating material - transparent, sparkly and endlessly versatile. But it is also more than that. Glass is also about fantasy, art, technology, history and the modern era.

glassblowerThe world of glassmakers and gallery owners who specialise in glass is as colourful and complex as glass itself, with its myriad shapes and colours and infinite variety. This "glass forest" offers attractions not only for lovers of the fine arts but also for walkers, cyclists and winter sports enthusiasts. There is always something interesting to do. Bavaria's famous cuisine means a wonderful choice of culinary treats all along the route. The Glass Route combines the "glass forest" and the Bavarian Forest, a walker's paradise with lots of fresh, healthy air. Now it's your turn - you can only fully appreciate the Glass Route if you come and experience it for yourself.

The word "glass" is derived from the old German word for amber, and old Germanic jewellery was made almost exclusively of this fossilised resin. The Glass Route allows visitors to encounter the glassmaking tradition at every turn and experience at first hand the international world of glass, its fascinating history and its universal appeal. The glassmaking process has remained essentially unchanged since the glassmaker's pipe was discovered some two thousand years ago.

Glassblowers still fetch the red-hot, honey-like glass melt out of the furnace with their long "pipe", turning, swinging and blowing it to get the desired shape, as if by magic. Watch in fascination as these master craftsmen combine perfection with creativity as they mould their glass creations using the oven or working by their lamps. You can watch glassmakers at work at many show glassworks along the route. There are also any number of viewing tours, exhibitions and courses.

Because the ancient craft of glassmaking cannot be replaced by machine, the mouth-blown tradition has been carefully preserved and is kept alive in many towns and villages.

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