Specializing in "Gemuetlichkeit"
By Charlotte Kohnhorst
in a cozy narrow valley at elevation of 1100 feet with surrounding
wilderness of rugged, majestic mountain ranges reaching 5,000-8,000
feet, lies a quaint Bavarian Village. Snake-twisting rivers, deep
azure lakes, crystal-clear crashing waterfalls, lush green rolling
hills dotted with flourishing orchards alive with buzzing bees
seeking sweet nectar provide the magnificent backdrop for this
Houses here display pointed peaks with large wooden over-hanging
rooflines on stucco/ timber combination structures. Main street
finds hugging gingerbread-style buildings on one side and beautiful
park abundant with variety of trees on the other. One finds
scalloped trim on the rooflines, intricate folk art cutouts on
balconies, exterior wall murals, window boxes and barrels with
profusion of flowers everywhere! Strolling main street visitors
admire the 96 foot Maibaum, (May Pole) dressed in blue and white
stripes ( traditional Bavarian colors) with attached placards
depicting town's history. These include: logging, railroading,
skiing, mining, dancing, the town band and church - all denote role
of significance to community. Plaque at base of Maibaum offers
traditional Bavarian blessing: "Maibaum steh auf, zum weissblauen Himmi
zoag naug, dass in's zu jeglicher Zeit d'Hoamat gedeiht."
Translation: "Maypole rise to the blue-white sky, so our homeland may forever
Continuing along main street one discovers shops filled with
nutcrackers, dolls, beer steins, music boxes, candles, candy,
cheese, toys, specialty clothes, gifts, and collectibles to tempt
shoppers. One can always find the unusual exceptionally unique gift
for that special person here. Restaurants, cafes and side street "wurst-stands"
offer German cuisine from sausage with sauerkraut to finest dessert
fruit filled pancakes delicately dusted with powered sugar.
Delicacies of every gastronomical desire are easily found and
enjoyed. Hungry visitors always find "Haxen oder Huhn," delicious
goulash accompanied by "Spaetzle oder Kartoffeln," at one of a
variety of good local restaurants specializing in"Gemuetlichkeit."
If you are lucky you might also spot the local German Bierwagen with
horse team going through the downtown area. The harness on the
bierwagen is all handmade in Sud-Tyrol, the German speaking part of
You might also spot a small 200 year old German
carriage pulled by Haflinger horses going through their paces. The
wonderful harness for these horses come from the town of Wallgau in
the heart of Bavaria and are handmade. In the summer you can be
assured of entertainment in the Gazebo in the heart of the downtown.
It may be a German group visiting, or a world class yodeler and a
visiting high school band. There's always a surprise for the visitor
Depending upon season, one discovers skiing, sledding, skating,
hiking, rock climbing, camping, fishing, rafting, canoeing, bike
riding, horseback riding, bird watching, and generally thoroughly
enjoying and appreciating nature. There is possibly no greater
spectacular burst of autumn color than Tumwater Canyon in fall.
Sound like you are in Germany? This is Leavenworth, The Bavarian
Village of Washington! Situated in the heart of the state at the
base of the eastern slopes of Cascade Mountain Range, 118 miles east
of Seattle, one can easily drive to Leavenworth via Interstate 90 or
U.S. Highway 2. Both routes guide one through beautiful terrain and
are exceptionally scenic. Mountains and valleys of this area
resemble parts of southern Germany so closely one feels immediately
Early settlers were Native American Indians and later, the Gold Rush
brought many white settlers. During the 1900's, Leavenworth was a
very small town where logging and fishing were primary industries,
along with pear, apple and cherry orchards. With Stock Market Crash
and Great Depression of 1929-1930's, Leavenworth lost residents and
business owners as people moved to larger cities for better jobs and
better pay. Through the 1940-1950's, Leavenworth became virtually a
"ghost town," with many buildings empty or in sad disrepair.
1960 brought transformation as dream to change the "face" of the
town into a Bavarian Village began. Architects were screened and
selected who could create the look of German buildings. Construction
began to change and adapt roof lines with scallops, decorative
shutters, and attached window boxes. Artists were hired to paint
on exterior walls. What a delightful transformation the town
Businesses began encouraging women employees to wear Dirndls and
musicians were sought to play German music. Today we are especially
interested in authentic and traditional Bavarian dress.
In 1996, Projekt Bayern was created. This group consists of
individuals dedicated to the preservation of the Bavarian Theme.
Several goals established include: formation of a town band, (Musikkapelle)
holding annual Christkindlmarkt, and seeking a German Sister City in
Our beautiful natural setting and Bavarian Village uniqueness have
made Leavenworth a major tourist area within the state of
Washington, well known throughout the Pacific Northwest and across
the border to neighbors in Canada.
Leavenworth celebrates many festivals throughout the year. January
brings Icefest. Springtime
means Maifest, with Grand Parade, street dancing and great entertainment.
Summer brings Kinderfest, International Accordion Festival and numerous productions by local
Summer Theater Group; featuring the "Sound of Music"
As leaves turn, we celebrate Washington State
Autumn Leaf Festival with huge parade and wonderful entertainment.
Oktoberfest follows and by Thanksgiving week-end we offer Christkindlmarkt. December brings two special week-ends with magic
of Christmas Lighting.
For a complete
information on Leavenworth please visit the Leavenworth Chamber