Schongau Old Town

Schongau, Germany

The important strategic position of Schongau on a defensible hill above the Lech means that it has a very long history of settlement. Finds from the Bronze Age have been made in the area, along with Roman remains.

Schongau is surrounded by fortified walls built in the Middle Ages - parts of them can still be walked around - and those fortifications were built to protect the wealth created by its position on the river and on important European trade routes.

Schongau stood near the Via Claudia Augusta, an old Roman road from Italy to Augsburg which was a major trade and communications route even after the fall of the Empire, and on the Salt Road from Berchtesgaden westwards. The Lech itself was also an important source of goods due to the healthy rafting commerce.

The main square in the centre of the old part of the town is dominated by the Ballenhaus - an old storehouse and council chamber built in the 15th century - at one end and the Church of Maria Himmelfahrt at the other. The stature of Mary gives the square its name - Marienplatz.

To the east is the former Carmelite Monastery - now a care home - and the Church of the Holy Ghost - the walk around part of the town walls used by the sentries can be made in this area. There is also an external path around the base of the walls which gives good views of the remaining town towers, down to the Lech and, on a good day, through to the mountains to the south.

The town has its own museum and the tourist office is situated in the town hall.

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