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Burning passion: Visitors taking the cable car from Ehrwald up onto the Zugspitze can look forward to magnificent views of Germany's highest peak. Each year on 21 June the mountains around Ehrwald come to life as thousands of fires are lit on the summits and ridges around the village.
The Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain at 2,962 metres above sea level, has been easily accessible since the first cable car was built in 1926. The most modern incarnation leaves from Ehrwald and transports visitors up onto the mountain quickly and comfortably via three mighty metal pylons driven into the rock. Once up at the top, crossing over from Bavaria in Germany to Tirol in Austria couldn’t be easier – the border runs directly through the middle of the Zugspitzhaus hut on the summit.
It goes without saying that the views from the Zugspitze are spectacular: down into the Inntal Valley, across to the shimmering green Lake Eibsee near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, over to the Hintertux Glacier – and on clear days even as far as the TV tower in Munich. The views looking up are just as good – not least on the Summer Solstice, the 21 June, when 300 men and women from the region scale the mountains of the Tiroler Zugspitz Arena Region to build and light fires high above the valley floor. Lighting mountain fires on the longest day of the year is a common tradition throughout the Alps, but the huge figures burning on the mountainsides around Ehrwald are unique and even included on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List.