In Oberstdorf, an old village in Southern Bavaria, a unique ancient pagan tradition is still alive – the dance of the wild men (Wilde-Mändle-Tanz), which is held only in this small town, once in five years.
Wilde-Mändle-Tanz is dedicated to the Germanic god Thor, and involves 13 men, all of whom belong to old local families who have been living in that region for centuries. The men’s costumes are made of moss, which grows only in the Allgäu Alps.
They dance to rhythmic drum music, building a pyramid, and at the end they drink mead from their wooden mugs, singing a ritual song.
Known as keshwa chaca, this is the only remaining example of the Incan handwoven bridges once common in the Incan road system. Made of woven grass, the bridge spans 118 feet and hangs 220 feet above the canyon’s rushing river.
The Incan women braided small, thin ropes, which were then braided again by the men into large support cables, much like a modern steel suspension bridge. Handwoven bridges lasted as long as 500 years and were held in very high regard by the Inca. The punishment for tampering with such a bridge was death.
Over time, however, the bridges decayed, or were removed, leaving this single testament to Incan engineering. This previously sagging bridge was repaired in 2003, christened with a traditional Incan ceremonial bridge blessing, and is now in extremely good condition.
It’s the perfect location for anyone wishing to indulge in a long-harbored Indiana Jones fantasy.