The sands of time

Legends and stories

For many years, the Großer Arbersee lay peacefully at the foot of the Großer Arber (Great Arber). Today, together with the Arberseehaus (Arber Lake House), it is one of the main tourist attractions of the Bavarian Forest.

The first building at Großer Arbersee probably served as accommodation for woodcutters. Old hiking guides from 1851 and later mention that hikers could also get food here, usually simple fare such as bread. A barge could be taken out onto the lake. References to “a good inn” are mentioned as early as 1882. In 1886, the lake house was renovated, and in 1903–1904 the House of Hohenzollern had a new, wooden lake house built in the Swiss style. This building has been rebuilt several times over the following 113 years and was finally completely renovated in 2017 and 2018 by the Hohenzollerns according to historical models. The Arberseehaus has always been a very popular destination for hikers and day trippers.

If you want to know what the lake has seen and experienced over the centuries, just browse through the postcards.

In 1029, Große Arbersee is mentioned as the boundary of land donated to Niederalteich Abbey. In 1060, the Counts of Bogen begin clearing the “wild north wood”.

Around 1400, the first small glassworks established in the Arber region start using the forest’s resources.

Aventin (1477–1534), the “father of Bavarian history”, reports that Bavaria and Bohemia were “still at war” over the Arbersee for its fishing rights, and that “the victor throws the vanquished into the lake”.

In 1846, a famous travel guide on the Bavarian Forest is published. “You must come and see for yourself” Müller and Gruber write at the time, and occasional hikers heed the call.

In 1872, large parts of the Arber forests become the property of the House of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. To make the waters suitable for drifting, the Großer Arbersee is artificially dammed to raise it by around 90 cm in 1898.

Around 1900, attempts are made to increase the lake area by cutting and blasting off the fescue grass. The work ceases after a life is lost.

In 1906, the first car at Arbersee causes quite a stir in the press:

Zwiesel, 31 August: “Mr Burkard Steingräber, a court piano maker from Bayreuth, drove to the Arbersee yesterday in his car. This is the first modern vehicle to climb to the height of this magnificent excursion site, which is why the feat deserves to be recognised here. The vehicle took the gently ascending road with ease.”

From 1970 onwards, pH values in the lake rise as industrialisation increases. Acidification causes the once murky and peaty lake to become clear, plant species disappear, and trout can no longer survive in the acidic lake water.

In 2000, the “Großer Arbersee” the nature reserve, established in 1939, is designated a NATURA 2000 site. In 2018, the company Arber Bergbahn, Bavarian Forest Nature Park and higher-level conservation agencies work together to redesign the circular trail and provide accessibility to visitors with reduced mobility so that they too can enjoy an unforgettable adventure in nature.