Bavaria, (Bayern) formally the Free State of Bavaria (German: Freistaat Bayern, is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of the country. With an area of 70,548 square kilometres (27,200 sq mi), it is by far the largest German state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany. Bavaria is Germany's second most populous state (after North Rhine Westphalia) with almost 12.5 million inhabitants, more than any of the three sovereign states on its borders. Bavaria's capital is Munich.

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

Bavaria shares international borders with Austria and the Czech Republic as well as with Switzerland (across Lake Constance). Neighbouring states within Germany are Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, Thuringia and Saxony. Two major rivers flow through the state, the Danube (Donau) and the Main. The Bavarian Alps define the border with Austria, (including the Austrian federal-states of Vorarlberg, Tyrol and Salzburg) and within the range is the highest peak in Germany, the Zugspitze. The Bavarian Forest and the Bohemian Forest form the vast majority of the frontier with the Czech Republic and Bohemia.

The major cities in Bavaria are Munich (München), Nuremberg (Nürnberg), Augsburg, Regensburg, Würzburg, Ingolstadt, Fürth and Erlangen.
 


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

Listed below are each of those 7 districts.  I have linked each of these districts
to their own page on the website.  You can also visit each area by using the map as well.

You will find more information on the area and on towns, cities and places  of interest.

 

     Upper Franconia ( Oberfranken)
   Middle Franconia (Mittelfranken)
   Lower Franconia (Unterfranken)
    Swabia (Schwaben)
  Upper Palatinate (Oberpfalz)
   Upper Bavaria (Oberbayern)
   Lower Bavaria (Niederbayern)
 
File:Bavarian Admin Districts.jpg

Some interesting facts about these 7 districts:

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. One of Germany's principal political parties, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), is replaced in Bavaria by the Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CSU), but in practice the two parties cooperate fully in the Bundestag. Bavaria had its own border police force, separate from the Federal Border Guard, until Austria's EU accession in 1995.

Furthermore, the people from the three northern districts of Bavaria known as Franconia (Mittelfranken, Oberfranken and Unterfranken), do not all consider themselves as Bavarian. They have their own history and celebrate their own identity, which is distinct from southern Bavaria, and symbolized by the Franconian rake (Fränkischer Rechen). The flag is often seen during local festivals. Some Franconians would also like to see their own Bundesland Franken 'Federal State of Franconia'.


About those Bavarians...
Bavarians tend to place a great value on food and drink. In addition to their renowned dishes, Bavarians also consume many items of food and drink which are unusual elsewhere in Germany; for example Weisswurst ("white sausage") or in some instances a great variety of nifty entrails. At folk festivals, beer is traditionally served by the litre (the so-called Maß). Bavarians are particularly proud of the traditional Reinheitsgebot, 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 Reinheitsgebot 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 litres 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 River 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.

Bavarians consider themselves to be egalitarian and informal. Their sociability can be experienced at the annual Oktoberfest, 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, Michigan and Leavenworth, Washington, 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.  (This my home town!)
 

Germany’s largest State, Bavaria, is world renown for its natural scenic beauty, monasteries, museums, and truly, the Bavarian lifestyle. This region brings to mind lush mountain pastures abundant with wildflowers, cows grazing; pristine sapphire-blue glacier water lakes; quaint villages on cobblestone streets with picturesque old buildings with window boxes filled with profusion of flowers; and of course, Munich’s giant Oktoberfest with brass bands, beer gardens and Wurst. Southern Germany is indeed associated with the many Bavarian festivals where one finds women in Dirndl and men in Lederhosen dancing traditional century-old folkdances, but there is so much more!

BAVARIA - is definitely one of Germany’s most popular vacation regions - fascinating, beautiful and educational. Truly, a Vacation Paradise.

CLICK TO GO MAP AND CHOSE A REGION OF BAYERN TO VISIT