The Wendelstein massif, which gained the distinctive shape it has today by lifting, overthrust, rupture and weathering, is regarded by geologists as a prime example to illustrate the history of our planet.
The area in which the Wendelstein was formed many millions of years ago – before the first man even existed – lay hundreds of kilometres off the north coast of Africa in a flat sub-tropical ocean. The material that has solidified to form rock on the mountain was part of a gigantic coral reef teeming with prehistoric plants and animals some 250 million years ago. Keen-eyed hikers can still find fossilised sea urchins, octopus and all sorts of other fossils in the various rock layers up to an altitude of some 1,800 metres, as well as an entire limestone wall of shells on which the Wendelstein Chapel rests today.
Information boards along the Summit and Panoramic Trail outline the formation of the Alps and their fate over the course of time. Visitors are also treated to an explanation of prehistoric life on Earth, the growth of the reefs and other earth scientific phenomena.