Ehrwald and Lermoos - Zwischentoren villages
Zwischentoren - the area of Ausserfern "between the gates" - is these days a prosperous tourist area, boasting sought-after ski resorts and the main links to the Tyrol and to the Bavarian resort centre of Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
The "gates" refer to the natural barriers which separated the Ausserfern from its Tyrolean rulers and from the Bavarian neighbours to the north - in other words, the Fernpass climb and the route through the Ehrenberger Klause.
The centre of Zwischentoren is largely made up of a fertile bowl, which was originally a massive lake, but now the home of the resorts of Ehrwald, Lermoos and Biberwier. In the Middle Ages one of the Counts of the Tyrol wanted to recreate the lake by flooding the bowl once more, but the villagers were saved by Philippine Welser, the much-loved Count's wife.
As opposed to other areas of the Ausserfern, tourism has played an important role here since the 19th century. Part of the attraction was the spectacular mountain scenery of the Zugspitz massif - the highest mountain in Germany shares ownership with Austria and the first Tyrolean lift to the top was built in 1926.
Ehrwald, the village at the base of the Zugspitz, only overtook Lermoos in importance in the 19th century - but Lermoos boasts the earlier history and grew from providing transport services for merchants using the trails from the main part of the Tyrol into the Allgaeu. These days it too has an impressive ski area and network of walking trails and huts.
Zwischentoren also consists of the smaller villages of Biberwier (on the descent from the Fernpass) and Bichlbach, Berwang and Heiterwang on the route through the mountains to the Ehrenberger Klause and the descent to the Lech river at Reutte.
A small mountain road links the Zwischentoren area to the upper Lech valley from Berwang via Namlos and Kelmen.