The history of Farchant

The history of Farchant

One does not see the long past in our 3,900-inhabitant village. Farchant surpasses many a well-known city in terms of centuries, including the Bavarian state capital Munich by half a century.

As early as 1200 BC, the amber traders from the Baltic Sea region had trodden a path through the swamps and primeval forest of the Zugspitzland in order to exchange the raw materials from the North for coveted finished products from the South.

Since around 200 AD, the footsteps of Roman cohorts and the shouts of southern carters have echoed through our valley: the Romans had expanded the originally small path into a military and trade route that connected northern Italy with southern Germany. The road through the Zugspitzland outlived its Roman builders by centuries. Around 600, after the "Empire" had long since collapsed, the Germanic Bavarians advanced to the foothills of the Alps, following the road into the valley and finally founded Forahaida (= Föhrenheide, Farchant) and Germarsau (Garmisch). During the construction of the railway line in the last century, the cemetery of the first inhabitants of Farchant who had settled in the area of the northern main road was discovered: row graves, Germanic and without Christian objects.

The villagers of Farchant became Christians around five generations later. Around 750 Irish and Scottish monks were evangelising our area and it is safe to assume that a church was already being built on site by this time. A little later, in the year 807, the bishop of Freising and a count from the Oberinntal quarreled over ownership of the church of St. Andreas. Farchant was verified with a certificate for the first time.

Around 1200, Duke Otto von Meranien, from the once powerful Bavarian count family of Andechs, had Werdenfels Castle built south of Farchant to protect the valley basin and the Augsburg-Venice imperial road. In two extensive purchases in the same century (1249/1294) the bishops of Freising acquired the County of Werdenfels and thus also our town from his estate. For half a millennium it was rightly said: "Living well under the crosier!" That applied here in two respects. If the ruler was already a bishop, most farmsteads in Farchant belonged to numerous monasteries (Polling, Dießen, Ettal, Benediktbeuern, Schlehdorf, etc.), which lent them to their landlords. As everywhere in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, political and religious unrest also prevailed in the Werdenfelser Land in the 16th and 17th centuries. Attack by the Protestant leader Moritz von Sachsen on the emperor in Innsbruck (1552), witch trials in Garmisch, which killed four women (1590), mass deaths during the plague years 1633/34 and construction of the Schwedenschanze north of Farchant.

Between 1700 and 1800, the village under the mountain Fricken, with almost 300 inhabitants, experienced an unexpected economic and cultural boom. In 1728, the people of Farchant had a new Baroque Church built from the Stones of the dilapidated Werdenfels Castle by the Munich City Architect Johann Mayr instead of the old Gothic. Local raftsmen went on raft trips to Hungary with wood, lime, plaster and cattle for months. Trading operators opened branches in Warsaw, Berlin, Hamburg or Bremen. Peasant sons became students and priests. The leader and woodworking trades flourished too. The boom was so striking that Tyroleans and Bavarians now called the county the "Goldenes Landl" (golden country). In Farchant alone, the total wealth of the population had almost tripled from 30,000 guilders to 88,000 guilders in those hundred years. Almost half of the 73 estates that existed were demolished during this time and rebuilt according to the new conditions. Most houses still preserved in the village centre date back to the second half of the 18th Century. In 1793, after a generous pious endowment, Farchant finally received his own clergyman and teacher, who had to teach almost 40 children in the vicarage room. In order to forestall the Austrians, Bavarian troops occupied the County of Werdenfels in the summer of 1802 after the political system of the Freising bishops had collapsed in the Napoleonic turmoil. The bishops were persecuted by the white-blue electors and kings. The decline of trade, devastating epidemics (cholera in 1836) and livestock epidemics (1842) as well as the significant restriction of rights to the forest as a source of wood contributed to the noticeable impoverishment of the population.

The Munich-Garmisch railway line, opened in 1889, visibly changed the face of the town and the entire valley. Rafting und carriage continued to decline, but more and more city dwellers discovered the country below the Zugspitze. Tourism – today the number one economic factor – began.

After the end of World War II, Farchant became a parish and, with the admission of many expellees, quickly exceeded the 2,000-resident threshold.

In May 2000, the Farchant Tunnel was opened – the bypass relieved the daily through traffic.

Joseph Brandner

Farchant Experience & Discover