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Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria ( , ) is a state of Germanymarker, located in the southeast of the country. With an area of and almost 12.5 million inhabitants, it is the largest German state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany. Its capital is Munichmarker in Upper Bavaria.

One of the oldest states of Europe, it was established as a duchy in the mid first millennium. In the 17th century, the Duke of Bavaria became a Prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire. The Kingdom of Bavaria existed from 1806 to 1918, and Bavaria has since been a free state (republic). It is the only modern state of Germany which never belonged to the Hanseatic League.

Bavaria is a predominantly Catholic state with a distinct culture. Modern Bavaria also includes parts of the historical regions of Franconia and Swabia.


The Bavarians emerged in a region north of the Alps, originally inhabited by the Gauls, which had been part of the Roman provinces of Raethia and Noricum. The Bavarians spoke Old High German but, unlike other Germanic groups, did not migrate from elsewhere. Rather, they seem to have coalesced out of other groups left behind by Roman withdrawal late in the 5th century AD. These peoples may have included the Celtic Boii, some remaining Romans, Marcomanni, Allemanni, Quadi, Thuringians, Goths, Scirians, Rugians, Heruli. The name "Bavarian" ("Baiuvarii") means "Men of Baia" which may indicate Bohemia, the homeland of the Celtic Boii and later of the Marcomanni. They first appear in written sources circa 520. Saint Boniface completed the people's conversion to Christianity in the early-8th century. Bavaria was, for the most part, unaffected by the Protestant Reformation, and even today, most of it is strongly Roman Catholic.

From about 550, more exactly probably 554, to 788 the house of Agilolfing ruled the Duchy of Bavaria, ending with Tassilo III who was deposed by Charlemagne.

Three early dukes are named in Frankish sources: Garibald I may have been appointed to the office by the Merovingian kings and married the Lombard princess Walderada when the church forbade her to King Chlothar I in 555. Their daughter, Theodelinde, became Queen of the Lombards in northern Italy and Garibald was forced to flee to her when he fell out with his Frankish overlords. Garibald's successor, Tassilo I, tried unsuccessfully to hold the eastern frontier against the expansion of Slavs and Avars around 600. Tassilo's son Garibald II seems to have achieved a balance of power between 610 and 616.

After Garibald II little is known of the Bavarians until Duke Theodo I, whose reign may have begun as early as 680. From 696 onwards he invited churchmen from the west to organize churches and strengthen Christianity in his duchy (it is unclear what Bavarian religious life consisted of before this time). His son, Theudebert, led a decisive Bavarian campaign to intervene in a succession dispute in the Lombard Kingdom in 714, and married his sister Guntrud to the Lombard King Liutprand. At Theodo's death the duchy was divided among his sons, but reunited under his grandson Hucbert.

At Hucbert's death (735 AD) the duchy passed to a distant relative named Odilo, from neighbouring Alemannia (modern southwest Germany and northern Switzerland). Odilo issued a law code for Bavaria, completed the process of church organisation in partnership with St. Boniface (739), and tried to intervene in Frankish succession disputes by fighting for the claims of the Carolingian Grifo. He was defeated near Augsburgmarker in 743 but continued to rule until his death in 748.

Middle Ages

Tassilo III (b. 741 - d. after 794) succeeded his father at the age of eight after an unsuccessful attempt by Grifo to rule Bavaria. He initially ruled under Frankish oversight but began to function independently from 763 onwards. He was particularly noted for founding new monasteries and for expanding eastwards, fighting Slavs in the eastern Alps and along the River Danube and colonising these lands. After 781, however, his cousin Charlemagne began to pressure Tassilo to submit and finally deposed him in 788. The deposition was not entirely legitimate; Dissenters attempted a coup against Charlemagne at Tassilo's old capital of Regensburgmarker in 792, led by his own son Pippin the Hunchback, and the king had to drag Tassilo out of imprisonment to formally renounce his rights and titles at the Assembly of Frankfurt in 794. This is the last appearance of Tassilo in the sources and he probably died a monk. As all of his family were also forced into monasteries, this was the end of the Agilolfing dynasty.

For the next 400 years numerous families held the duchy, rarely for more than three generations. With the revolt of duke Henry the Quarrelsome in 976, Bavaria lost large territories in the south and south east. Among them a mark called "Ostarrichi" which was elevated to a duchy out of own right and given to the Babenberger family. This event marks the birth of Austria. The last, and one of the most important, of these dukes was Henry the Lion of the house of Welf, founder of Munich, de facto the second most powerful man in the empire as the ruler of two duchies. When in 1180, Henry the Lion was deposed as Duke of Saxonymarker and Bavaria by his cousin, Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor (aka "Barbarossa" for his red beard), Bavaria was awarded as fief to the Wittelsbach family, counts palatinate of Schyren ("Scheyern" in modern German), which ruled from 1180 to 1918. The Electoral Palatinate by Rhine ("Kurpfalz" in German) was also acquired by the House of Wittelsbach in 1214.

The first of several divisions of the duchy of Bavaria occurred in 1255. With the extinction of the Hohenstaufen in 1268 also Swabian territories were acquired by the Wittelsbach dukes. Emperor Louis the Bavarian acquired Brandenburg, Tirol, Hollandmarker and Hainautmarker for his House but released the Upper Palatinatemarker for the Palatinate branch of the Wittelsbach in 1329. In 1506 with the Landshut War of Succession the other parts of Bavaria were reunited and Munich became the sole capital.

Modern Era

In 1623 the Bavarian duke replaced his relative, the Count Palatine of the Rhine in the early days of the Thirty Years' War and acquired the powerful prince-electoral dignity in the Holy Roman Empire, determining its Emperor thence forward, as well as special legal status under the empire's laws. The country became one of the centres of Jesuite supported counter-reformation. The ambitions of the Bavarian prince electors led to several wars with and occupations by Austria during the early and mid-18th century (Spanish succession, election of a Wittelsbach emperor instead of a Habsburger). From 1777 onwards, after the old Bavarian branch of the family had died out with elector Max III. Joseph, Bavaria and the Electoral Palatinate were governed in personal union again, now by the Palatinian lines.

Kingdom of Bavaria

When Napoleon abolished the Holy Roman Empire, Bavaria became a kingdom in 1806, and its area doubled. Tirolmarker was temporarily united, Salzburgmarker temporarily reunited with Bavaria but finally ceded to Austria. In return the Rhenish Palatinate and Franconia were annexed to Bavaria in 1815. Between 1799 and 1817 the leading minister count Montgelas followed a strict policy of modernisation and laid the foundations of administrative structures that survived even the monarchy and are (in their core) valid until today. In 1808 a first and in 1818 a more modern constitution (by the standards of the time) was passed, that established a bicameral Parliament with a House of Lords (Kammer der Reichsräte) and a House of Commons (Kammer der Abgeordneten). The constitution was valid until the collapse of the monarchy at the end of World War I.

Bavaria as a part of the German Empire

After the rise of Prussiamarker to prominence Bavaria managed to preserve its independence by playing off the rivalries of Prussia and Austriamarker. Allied to Austria, it was defeated in the 1866 Austro-Prussian Warmarker and did not belong to the North German Federationmarker of 1867, but the question of German unity was still alive. When France attacked Prussia in 1870, the south German states Baden, Württemberg and Bavaria joined the Prussian forces and ultimately joined the Federation, which was renamed Deutsches Reich (German Empiremarker) in 1871. Bavaria continued as a monarchy, and it even had some special rights within the federation (such as an army, railways and a postal service of its own).

In the early-20th century Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Henrik Ibsen, and other notable artists were drawn to Bavaria, notably to the Schwabingmarker district of Munich, later devastated by World War II.

20th century

On November 12, 1918, Ludwig III signed a document, the Anif declaration, releasing both civil and military officers from their oaths; the newly-formed republican government of Socialist premier Kurt Eisner interpreted this as an abdication. (To date, however, no member of the house of Wittelsbach has ever formally declared renunciation of the throne. On the other hand, none has ever since officially called upon their Bavarian or Stewart claims. Family members are active in cultural and social life, including the head of the house, HRH Duke Franz in Bavaria. They step back from any announcements on public affairs, showing approval or disapproval solely by HRH's presence or absence.) Eisner was assassinated in 1919 leading to a violently suppressed Communist revolt. Extremist activity by the National Socialists also increased, notably the 1923 Beer Hall Putschmarker, and Munich and Nuremberg became Nazi strongholds under the Third Reich. As a manufacturing center, Munich was heavily bombed during World War II and occupied by U.S. troops. The Rhenish Palatinate was detached from Bavaria in 1946 and made part of the new state Rhineland-Palatinatemarker.

Since World War II, Bavaria has been rehabilitated from a poor agrarian country into a prosperous industrial hub. A massive reconstruction effort restored much of Munich's and other places historic cores. The state capital hosted the 1972 Summer Olympics and matches of the Soccer World Cups of 1974 and 2006 as well as European Track & Field championships. More recently, former state minister-president Edmund Stoiber was the CDU/CSU candidate for chancellor in the 2002 federal election which he lost, and native son Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.


The Bavarian Alps
Bavaria shares international borders with Austria and the Czech Republic as well as with Switzerland (across Lake Constancemarker). Neighbouring states within Germany are Baden-Württembergmarker, Hessemarker, Thuringiamarker and Saxony. Two major rivers flow through the state, the Danube (Donau) and the Mainmarker. The Bavarian Alpsmarker define the border with Austria, and within the range is the highest peak in Germany, the Zugspitzemarker.

The major cities in Bavaria are Munich (München), Nurembergmarker (Nürnberg), Augsburg, Regensburgmarker, Würzburgmarker, Ingolstadtmarker, Fürthmarker and Erlangenmarker.

Population and area

Administrative region Population (2008) Area (km²) No. municipalities
Lower Bavaria 1,193,444 9.5% 10,330 14.6% 258 12.5%
Lower Franconia 1,331,500 10.6% 8,531 12.1% 308 15.0%
Upper Franconia 1,085,770 8.7% 7,231 10.2% 214 10.4%
Middle Franconia 1,714,453 13.7% 7,245 10.3% 210 10.2%
Upper Palatinatemarker 1,085,216 8.7% 9,691 13.7% 226 11.0%
Swabiamarker 1,787,995 14.3% 9,992 14.2% 340 16.5%
Upper Bavaria 4,320,934 34.5% 17,530 24.8% 500 24.3%
Total 12,519,312 100.0% 70,549 100.0% 2,056 100.0%

Major cities

City Inhabitants

31 December 2000

31 December 2005

31 December 2008
Munichmarker 1,210,223 1,259,677 1,326,807
Nurembergmarker 488,400 499,237 503,638
Augsburgmarker 254,982 262,676 263,313
Regensburgmarker 125,676 129,859 133,525
Würzburgmarker 127,966 133,906 133,501
Ingolstadtmarker 115,722 121,314 123,925
Fürthmarker 110,477 113,422 114,071
Erlangenmarker 100,778 103,197 104,980
Bayreuthmarker 74,153 73,997 72,935
Bambergmarker 69,036 70,081 69,989
Aschaffenburgmarker 67,592 68,642 68,747
Landshutmarker 58,746 61,368 62,606
Kempten marker 61,389 61,360 62,135
Rosenheimmarker 58,908 60,226 60,711
Neu-Ulmmarker 50,188 51,410 53,866
Schweinfurtmarker 54,325 54,273 53,588
Passaumarker 50,536 50,651 50,717
Hofmarker 50,741 48,723 47,275
Freisingmarker 44,167 45,827 45,654
Straubingmarker 44,014 44,633 44,496

Administrative divisions

Regierungsbezirke (administrative districts)

Administrative Districts of Bavaria

Bavaria is divided into 7 administrative districts called Regierungsbezirke (singular Regierungsbezirk).

  1. Upper Franconia ( )
  2. Middle Franconia ( )
  3. Lower Franconia ( )
  4. Swabiamarker ( )
  5. Upper Palatinatemarker ( )
  6. Upper Bavaria ( )
  7. Lower Bavaria ( )

Image:Wappen Bezirk Oberbayern.png|Upper BavariaImage:Wappen Bezirk Niederbayern.svg|Lower BavariaImage:Wappen Bezirk Oberpfalz.png|Upper PalatinateImage:Wappen Bezirk Oberfranken2.svg|Upper FranconiaImage:Mittelfranken_Wappen.svg|Middle FranconiaImage:Unterfranken Wappen.svg|Lower FranconiaImage:Wappen_Schwaben_Bayern.svg|Swabia

These administrative regions consist of 71 administrative districts (called Landkreise, singular Landkreis) and 25 independent cities (kreisfreie Städte, singular kreisfreie Stadt)


Bezirke (districts) are the third communal layer in Bavaria; the others are the Landkreise and the Gemeinden or Städte.In the larger Länder of Germany (including Bavaria) there are Regierungsbezirke which are only administrative divisions and not self-governing entities as the Bezirke in Bavaria.The Bezirke in Bavaria are territorially identical with the Regierungsbezirke (e.g. Regierung von Oberbayern), but are a different form of administration (having their own parliaments etc.).

Landkreise/kreisfreie Cities

Administrative districts of Bavaria

  1. Aichach-Friedbergmarker
  2. Altöttingmarker
  3. Amberg-Sulzbachmarker
  4. Ansbachmarker
  5. Aschaffenburgmarker
  6. Augsburgmarker
  7. Bad Kissingenmarker
  8. Bad Tölz-Wolfratshausenmarker
  9. Bambergmarker
  10. Bayreuthmarker
  11. Berchtesgadener Landmarker
  12. Chammarker
  13. Coburgmarker
  14. Dachaumarker
  15. Deggendorfmarker
  16. Dillingenmarker
  17. Dingolfing-Landaumarker
  18. Donau-Riesmarker
  19. Ebersbergmarker
  20. Eichstättmarker
  21. Erdingmarker
  22. Erlangen-Höchstadtmarker
  23. Forchheimmarker
  24. Freisingmarker
  1. Freyung-Grafenaumarker
  2. Fürstenfeldbruckmarker
  3. Fürthmarker
  4. Garmisch-Partenkirchenmarker
  5. Günzburgmarker
  6. Haßbergemarker
  7. Hofmarker
  8. Kelheimmarker
  9. Kitzingenmarker
  10. Kronachmarker
  11. Kulmbachmarker
  12. Landsbergmarker
  13. Landshutmarker
  14. Lichtenfelsmarker
  15. Lindaumarker
  16. Main-Spessartmarker
  17. Miesbachmarker
  18. Miltenbergmarker
  19. Mühldorfmarker
  20. Münchenmarker (Landkreis München)
  21. Neuburg-Schrobenhausenmarker
  22. Neumarktmarker
  23. Neustadt -Bad Windsheimmarker
  24. Neustadt marker

  1. Neu-Ulmmarker
  2. Nürnberger Landmarker
  3. Oberallgäumarker
  4. Ostallgäumarker
  5. Passaumarker
  6. Pfaffenhofenmarker
  7. Regenmarker
  8. Regensburgmarker
  9. Rhön-Grabfeldmarker
  10. Rosenheimmarker
  11. Rothmarker
  12. Rottal-Innmarker
  13. Schwandorfmarker
  14. Schweinfurtmarker
  15. Starnbergmarker
  16. Straubing-Bogenmarker
  17. Tirschenreuthmarker
  18. Traunsteinmarker
  19. Unterallgäumarker
  20. Weilheim-Schongaumarker
  21. Weißenburg-Gunzenhausenmarker
  22. Wunsiedelmarker
  23. Würzburgmarker

Kreis-free Cities:
  1. Ambergmarker
  2. Ansbachmarker
  3. Aschaffenburgmarker
  4. Augsburgmarker
  5. Bambergmarker
  6. Bayreuthmarker
  7. Coburgmarker
  8. Erlangenmarker
  9. Fürthmarker
  1. Hofmarker
  2. Ingolstadtmarker
  3. Kaufbeurenmarker
  4. Kemptenmarker
  5. Landshutmarker
  6. Memmingenmarker
  7. Munichmarker (München)
  8. Nurembergmarker (Nürnberg)
  9. Passaumarker
  1. Regensburgmarker
  2. Rosenheimmarker
  3. Schwabachmarker
  4. Schweinfurtmarker
  5. Straubingmarker
  6. Weidenmarker
  7. Würzburgmarker

Gemeinden (municipalities)

The 71 administrative districts are on the lowest level divided into 2031 municipalities (called Gemeinden, singular Gemeinde). Together with the 25 independent cities (which are in effect municipalities independent of Landkreis administrations), there are a total of 2056 municipalities in Bavaria.

In 44 of the 71 administrative districts, there are a total of 215 unincorporated areas (as of January 1, 2005, called gemeindefreie Gebiete, singular gemeindefreies Gebiet), not belonging to any municipality, all uninhabited, mostly forested areas, but also four lakes (Chiemseemarker-without islands, Starnberger Seemarker-without island Roseninsel, Ammerseemarker, which are the three largest lakes of Bavaria, and Waginger Seemarker).


Bavaria has a multi-party system where the biggest parties are the conservative Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CSU), which has dominated politics since 1957 and won every election since then, and the center-left Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). The German green party, Alliance '90/The Greens is represented in the parliament as well. Since 2008 Germany's liberal party, the Free Democratic Party and the Free Voters are represented in Bavaria's parliament as well. CSU and FDP agreed in October 2008 to form a coalition, while SPD, Free Voters and the Greens form the opposition.

Bavaria has a unicameral Landtagmarker, or state parliament, elected by universal suffrage. Until December 1999, there was also a Senat, or Senate, whose members were chosen by social and economic groups in Bavaria, but following a referendum in 1998, this institution was abolished. The head of government is the Minister-President.

In 1995 Bavaria introduced direct democracy on the local level in a referendum. This was initiated bottom-up by an association called Mehr Demokratie (More Democracy). This is a grass-roots organization which campaigns for the right to citizen-initiated referendums. In 1997 the Bavarian Supreme Court aggravated the regulations considerably (e.g. by introducing a turn-out quorum). Nevertheless, Bavaria has the most advanced regulations on local direct democracy in Germany. This has led to a spirited citizens’ participation in communal and municipal affairs – 835 referenda took place from 1995 through 2005.

In the 2003 elections the CSU won more than two thirds of the seats in Landtag - something no party had ever achieved in post-war German history. In the following 2008 elections the CSU lost its absolute majority in the Landtag for the first time in 46 years.

Minister-presidents of Bavaria since 1945

|| 1
|| Fritz Schäffer
|| 2
|| Wilhelm Hoegner
|| 3
|| Hans Ehard
|| 4
|| Wilhelm Hoegner
|| 5
|| Hanns Seidel
|| 6
|| Hans Ehard
|| 7
|| Alfons Goppel
|| 8
|| Franz Josef Strauß
|| 9
|| Max Streibl
|| 10
|| Edmund Stoiber
|| 11
|| Günther Beckstein
|| 12
|| Horst Seehofer
Minister-presidents of Bavaria
No. Name Born-Died Party affiliation Begin of Tenure End of Tenure
1888-1967 CSU 1945 1945
1887-1980 SPD 1945 1946
1887-1980 CSU 1946 1954
1887-1980 SPD 1954 1957
1901-1961 CSU 1957 1960
1887-1980 CSU 1960 1962
1905-1991 CSU 1962 1978
1915-1988 CSU 1978 1988
1932-1998 CSU 1988 1993
*1941 CSU 1993 2007
*1943 CSU 2007 2008
*1949 CSU 2008 incumbent

Bavarian citizenship

The fact that unlike all other German Länder, Bavaria's constitution provides for Bavarian citizenship is often mentioned as an indicator for Bavarian distinctiveness. Some Bavarians are keen to emphasize that - in accordance with the generous indication of the constitution — they regard everyone
  • born in Bavaria,
  • born to a Bavarian parent,
  • adopted by a Bavarian as a child,
  • married to a Bavarian, or
  • naturalized in Bavaria,
as a fellow-Bavarian; some of those falling under this untechnical definition express pride in being Bavarian. However, state legislation regulating citizenship procedures has never been enacted, the constitution itself provides that all Germans enjoy the same rights as Bavarian citizens, and no office issues certificates concerning a "Bavarian" citizenship. Thus, the notion of citizenship rather bears a folkloric, but not really political meaning.

Some people in the northern part of Bavaria, acquired only during the Congress of Vienna, see themselves as Franconians and therefore do not like to be called Bavarians. They have a separate dialect and do not wear traditional Bavarian clothing, but their own.

German-Bavarian relations

It is a common joke in Germany that Bavaria is not part of Germany, but "near it". In fact a minority seriously agrees with this notion; the Bayernpartei (Bavaria Party) advocates Bavarian independence from Germany. Bavaria was the only state to reject the West German constitution in 1949, but this did not prevent its implementation. Some NGOs (non-governmental organizations) have both a German and a Bavarian branch; for example, there is a Bavarian as well as a German Red Crossmarker. One of Germany's principal political parties, the CDU (Christian Democratic Union), is replaced in Bavaria by the CSU, but in practice the two parties cooperate fully in the Bundestagmarker. Bavaria fielded its own border police force, much like the Federal German Grenzschutz, during the Cold War.


Bavaria has long had one of the largest and healthiest economies of any region in Germany, or Europe for that matter. Its GDP in 2007 exceeded 434 billion Euros (about 600 bn US$) This makes Bavaria itself one of the largest economies in Europe and the 18th largest in the world. Some large companies headquarted in Bavaria include BMW, Siemens, Audi, Munich Re, Allianzmarker, Infineon, MAN, Wacker Chemie, Puma AG,and Adidas AG. (See also Company names.)


Bavarian church with Alps in the background
Though only a relatively small part belongs to the Alps, the perception of Bavaria as an alpine region endures.
Some features of the Bavarian culture and mentality are remarkably distinct from the rest of Germany. Noteworthy differences (especially in rural areas, less significant in the major cities) can be found with respect to:


The predominant faith is Roman Catholicism, particularly in the southern parts of Bavaria and Lower Franconia. As per the most recent available Kirchliche Statistik Eckdaten from the Deutsche Bischofskonferenz, Bavaria is one of two Bundesländer with a population that is in majority Catholic (though in several additional Bundesländer, a plurality of the population is Catholic). This source indicates that in 2007, 56.4% of the Bavarian population was Catholic, and 21.0% Protestant. The current pope, Benedict XVI (Joseph Alois Ratzinger), was born in Marktl am Innmarker in Upper Bavaria and was Cardinal-Archbishop of Munich and Freising.

In addition, Lutheranism has a significant presence in large parts of Franconia.

Religion remains important to many in the region, as expressed by the typical Bavarian, Austrian and Swabian greeting: "Grüß Gott!" (Greet God!, originally "es grüße Dich Gott" - "God may bless you").


Bavarians commonly emphasize pride in their traditions. Traditional costumes collectively known as Tracht are worn on special occasions and include in Altbayern Lederhosen for males and Dirndl for females. Centuries-old folk music is performed. The Maibaum, or Maypole (which in the Middle Ages served as the community's yellow pages, as figurettes on the pole represent the trades of the village), and the bagpipes in the Upper Palatinate region bear witness to the ancient Celtic and Germanic remnants of cultural heritage of the region.

Whether actually in Bavaria, overseas or full citizens of other nations they continue to cultivate their traditions. They hold festivals and dances to keep their traditions alive. In New Yorkmarker the German American Cultural Society is a larger umbrella group for others such as the Bavarian organizations, which represent a specific part of Germany. They proudly put forth a German Parade called Steuben Parademarker each year. Various affiliated events take place amongst its groups, one of which is the Bavarian Dancers.

Food and drink

Bavarians tend to place a great value on food and drink. Bavarians also consume many items of food and drink which are unusual elsewhere in Germany; for example (“white sausage”) or a great variety of nifty entrails. At folk festivals, beer is traditionally served by the litre (the so-called ). Bavarians are particularly proud of the traditional , or purity law, initially established by the Duke of Bavaria for the City of Munich (e.g. the court) in 1487 and the duchy in 1516. According to this law, only three ingredients were allowed in beer: water, barley, and hops. In 1906 the made its way to all-German law, and remained a law in Germany until the EU struck it down recently as incompatible with the European common market. German breweries, however, cling to the principle. Bavarians are also known as some of the world's most beer-loving people with an average annual consumption of 170 liters per person, figures are declining in recent years in favour of soft drinks.

Bavaria is also home to the Franconia wine region, which is situated along the Main Rivermarker in Franconia. The region has produced wine for over 1,000 years and is famous for its use of the Bocksbeutel wine bottle. The production of wine forms an integral part of the regional culture, and many of its villages and cities hold their own wine festivals (Weinfests) throughout the year.

Language and dialects

[[Image:Oberdeutsch-1945.png|thumb|High German languages

]]Three German dialects and languages are spoken in Bavaria: Austro-Bavarian in Old Bavaria (South East and East), Swabian German (an Alemannic German dialect) in the Bavarian part of Swabia (South West) and East Franconian German in Franconia (North).Bavarians are very proud of their marked dialects, and most of them speak with their Bavarian, Franconian or Swabian accent. As with traditions in general, cultivation of dialect and regional accent is considered a strengthening of regional identity.


Bavarians consider themselves to be egalitarian and informal. Their sociability can be experienced at the annual Oktoberfestmarker, the world's largest beer festival, which welcomes around six million visitors every year, or in the famous beer gardens. In traditional Bavarian beer gardens, patrons may bring their own food and only buy beer from the brewery that runs the beer garden.

In the United States, particularly among German Americans, Bavarian culture is viewed somewhat nostalgically, and many "Bavarian villages", most notably Frankenmuth, Michiganmarker and Leavenworth, Washingtonmarker, have been founded. Since 1962, the latter has been styled with a Bavarian theme; it is also home to "one of the world's largest collections of nutcrackers" and an Oktoberfest celebration it claims is among the most attended in the world outside of Munich.

Historical buildings

Image:Aschaffenburg Schloss Johannisburg.jpg|Johannisburg Castle in AschaffenburgImage:Wuerzburger_Residenz_vom_Hofgarten.jpg|Würzburg ResidencemarkerImage:Marienberg wuerzburg.jpg|Fortress Marienbergmarker and the Alte Mainbrücke in WürzburgImage:Plassenburg oben.jpg|Plassenburgmarker Castle in KulmbachmarkerImage:BambergDom.jpg|Cathedral in BambergImage:Vierzehnheiligen I.JPG|Basilica of the VierzehnheiligenmarkerImage:Coburg-Veste1.jpg|Castle of CoburgmarkerImage:Bayreuth_Festspielhaus_2006-07-16.jpg|Festspielhaus of Richard Wagner in BayreuthImage:Nuremberg sebald castle f lorenz f s.jpg|Imperial Castle in NürnbergmarkerImage:Kastell Biriciana (Weißenburg in Bayern).jpg|Kastell Biriciana, Weißenburgmarker close to the LimesImage:Schloss Neuburg.jpg|Castle of Neuburg an der DonaumarkerImage:Regensburg-steinerne-bruecke-hytrion-enhanced_1-1024x768.jpg|Old Stone Bridge and Cathedral of RegensburgImage:Walhalla_aussen.jpg|Walhalla templemarker in Donaustauf near RegensburgImage:Befreiungshalle-kelheim-aussen.jpg|Befreiungshalle in KelheimmarkerImage:Passau inn cathedral.JPG|Cathedral and Oberhaus fortification in PassauImage:LandshutTrausnitz01.jpg|Trausnitz castle, LandshutImage:Burghausen.jpg|Burghausen CastlemarkerImage:A_rathausplatz.jpg|Townhall in AugsburgImage:Munich_skyline.jpg|Frauenkirche in MunichImage:Residenz Ansicht Hofgarten, München.jpg| Residenz in MunichImage:Image-Schloss Nymphenburg Munich CC edit3.jpg|Nymphenburg Palacemarker in MunichImage:Freisinger Dom aussen 01.jpg|Cathedral in FreisingImage:Herrenchiem.JPG|Herrenchiemsee PalacemarkerImage:Linderhof-1.jpg|Linderhof PalacemarkerImage:Schloss Hohenschwangau.jpg|Hohenschwangau Castlemarker

Image:wieskirche_boenisch_okt_2003.jpg|Wieskirchemarker, SteingadenImage:Bartholomae-2005.jpg|Church St. Bartholomewmarker at Königsseemarker


Neuschwanstein was built for King Ludwig II, as a second home. It currently sits unfinished.

Famous people

There are many famous people who were born or lived in present-day Bavaria:

Company names

The motorcycle and automobile makers BMW (Bayerische Motoren-Werke, or Bavarian Motor Works) and Audi, Allianz, Grundig (consumer electronics), Siemens (electricity, telephones, informatics, medical instruments), Continental (Automotive Tire and Electronics), Adidas, Puma, HypoVereinsbank (UniCredit Group), Infineon and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann have (or had) a Bavarian industrial base.

The iconic, opening scenes of the 1965 Rodgers and Hammerstein film musical The Sound of Music were shot in the Bavarian Alps.

Bavaria has also given its name to a major Dutchmarker brewery, Bavaria Brewery.

The meaning of the coat of arms

Bavarian herald Joerg Rugenn wearing a tabard of the arms around 1510
Modern coat of arms was designed by Eduard Ege in 1946, following heraldic traditions.
  • The Golden Lion: At the dexter chief, sable, a lion rampant Or, armed and langued gules. This represents the administrative region of Upper Palatinate.
  • The "Franconian Rake": At the sinister chief, per fess dancetty, gules and argent. This represents the administrative regions of Upper, Middle and Lower Franconia.
  • The Blue Panther: At the dexter base, argent, a panther rampant azure, armed Or and langued gules. This represents the regions of Lower and Upper Bavaria.
  • The Three Lions: At the sinister base, Or, three lions passant guardant sable, armed and langued gules. This represents Swabia.
  • The White-And-Blue Heart-Shaped Shield: The heart-shaped shield of white and blue fusils askance was originally the coat of arms of the Counts of Bogen, adopted in 1247 by the Wittelsbachs House. The white-and-blue fusils are indisputably the emblem of Bavaria and the heart-shaped shield today symbolizes Bavaria as a whole. Along with the People's Crown, it is officially used as the Minor Coat of Arms.
  • The People's Crown: The four coat fields with the heart-shaped shield in the centre are crowned with a golden band with precious stones decorated with five ornamental leaves. This crown appeared for the first time in the coat of arms in 1923 to symbolize sovereignty of the people after the dropping out of the royal crown.

See also


  1. n-tv:Fiasko für die CSU
  2. Its GDP is 143% of the EU average (as of 2005) against a German average of 121.5%, see Eurostat
  3. Gemeinsames Datenangebot der Statistischen Ämter des Bundes und der Länder
  4. See the list of countries by GDP .
  5. Leavenworth, Washington The Bavarian Village

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