It is the main gateway to Lake Chiemsee, largest lake in Bavaria. The market town Prien am Chiemsee is the biggest settlement on Chiemsee, the “Bavarian Seaside”. The town is a climatic health resort and only Kneipp spa in Upper Bavaria.
Prien was founded in the middle of the 12th century (around 1158), as an administrative centre for the Count of Falkenstein. The western Chiemgau valley has, however, been a popular place of settlement for centuries, with both the Romans and Celts having settled here.
The name “Prien” comes from the Celtic word for the river that flows through Prien (“Brigenna” - the river that flows from the mountains). Prien was principally a settlement for craftsmen during the Middle Ages. All sorts of craftsmen came from all over the parish and from 1400 specifically from the crafts quarter called “Am Gries”. Through the centuries, these trades came to provide the economic backbone for the region.
For a long time, the population of the town remained relatively constant, with just 300 residents registered at the beginning of the 19th century.
Town's modern population is around 10,000. This rapid rise in population happened after opening of the Munich-Salzburg railway line in 1860. Railway brought in the first wave of out-of-town visitors, and this trend only gained momentum when the King’s Castle at Herrenchiemsee opened to the general public in 1886. Chiemsee-Schifffahrt, the Chiemsee public boating company, expanded its operations accordingly.
Nowadays, tourism is the town’s main source of income.
Prien is 120 km southeast of Munich International Airport (MUC IATA) and 65 km northwest of Salzburg W.A. Mozart International Airport (SZG IATA). There are several Prien-based airport shuttle services to bring travellers to Prien.
A light-rail service goes into Munich in a dense schedule, so taking the train from the airport is a convenient option as well, and will take around 1h 45m.
Prien is a station on the railway line between Munich and Salzburg. InterCity (IC) trains as well as Local Trains ("Meridian") stop at Prien station. While ICs travel further distances, are faster and skip some stations in between, the Meridian train lines go from Munich to Salzburg and cover all stations in between, making them a good way to get around within the Chiemgau area. Travel time from Munich is about 57 minutes using IC trains, 1 hour using Meridian. See the official DB Bahn website for more details.
The fastest way is the A8 highway, between Munich and Salzburg. Although Prien doesn't have a separate exit as it is a few kilometers north of the highway, it can be reached conveniently enough by exiting in Bernau am Chiemsee and taking St2092, leading directly into Prien.
The best way to get around Prien is by foot.
1 Chiemsee-Bahn. There is a special narrow-gauge Chiemsee train linking Prien railway station to the Prien/Stock boat harbour which operates during summer season, bringing passengers to the two major islands on lake Chiemsee. The pier is otherwise about a 30-minute walk from the station. Chiemsee railway is still using vintage carriages and a steam engine from 1887.
- Herrenchiemsee Island (Herreninsel). The castle of King Ludwig II at Herrenchiemsee modelled after Versailles and Museum of the King Ludwig II. Old Augustinean Monastery has permanent exhibition of the former monastery and of the constitutional assembly for the establishing of the "Grundgesetz" (German constitution) in 1948, private rooms of King Ludwig II and an art gallery with paintings by the Munich painter Julius Exter. King Ludwig II of Bavaria acquired the Herreninsel as the location for his Royal Palace of Herrenchiemsee (New Palace) in 1873. This palace was built as a "Temple of Fame" for King Louis XIV of France, whom the Bavarian monarch fervently admired. The actual building of this "Bavarian Versailles", which was begun in 1878 from plans by Georg Dollmann. When Ludwig II died in 1886 the palace was still incomplete, and sections of it were later demolished. In 1876 Court Garden Director Carl von Effner completed the plans for a large garden resembling that of Versailles. When the king died, only the sections along the main axis with their famous fountains and waterworks had been completed.
- Frauenchiemsee (Fraueninsel). Frauenchiemsee Monastery was founded by Duke Tassilo, and the monastery church was consecrated in 782 by Bishop Virgil of Salzburg. In 788 the monastery came into the possession of Charles the Great, and passed from him to his grandson Ludwig the German. The foundations of the church, and possibly also parts of the walls, probably originate from the Carolingian era. The present church was already in existence in the 11th century. In the 12th and 13th centuries it was extended and rebuilt. The appearance of the interior was significantly altered by the addition of a ribbed vault in 1468-1476, and the baroque altars were added in 1688-1702. The bell tower, sitated in front of the northwest side of the church, became the symbol of the Chiemgau. The two lower floors of this eight-sided tower probably date from the 12th century, while the upper one was added in 1395. The tower acquired its characteristic onion dome in 1626. It was not part of the original monastery complex, but was built on the foundations of what was probably a Carolingian building. Fraueninsel Cemetery has a cenotaph of Alfred Jodl, Chief of the Operations Staff of the Armed Forces High Command (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, or OKW) during World War II, despite the fact that he has been executed as a war criminal and his body had been cremated and ashes scattered into a small river in the Munich area.
- Chiemsee railway. The engine was built in 1887 by Krauss & Comp. as a so-called tramway or box locomotive and was given the number: 1813. Due to its relatively low running costs and need for only one footplateman, the engine is ideal for use on narrow gauge lines. The engine in original condition from 1887. The electric headlights were installed in 1965 and are powered by a steam turbine located on the driver’s side next to the smokebox. The original braking system consisted of lever handbrakes, which were replaced by an air brake system in 1961.
- Chiemsee-Schifffahrt. Operates fleet of 10 lake boats, oldest of which had been built in 1926 as a paddle-wheel saloon steamer (which now operates under diesel power). In winter, the boats leave Prien/Stock every hour, in summer, every 20 minutes.
There's a restaurant of Herreninsel (part of old Augustinean Monastery), offering standard Bavarian menu of soups, stews, sausages and meats. It is reasonably priced and conveniently located next to boat pier. Number of "fisherman's shacks" on Frauneinsel offer freshly smoked local fish (trout, bass, pike, etc.) to be consumed on the spot or to go.
- Gästehaus Rosin, Seestraße 71a, ☏ .
- Gasthof Pension Stocker, Stettener Str. 26, ☏ .
- [formerly dead link] Gästehaus Schwarz Hotel Garni, Am Roseneck 30, ☏ .
- Hotel Bayerischer Hof, Bernauer Str. 3, ☏ .