The Birnau Basilica - a cistercensian monastery church, dedicated to St. Mary - is located along the B31 road between Nußdorf and Uhldingen. It was built between 1746 and 1749 in the baroque style, with stunning ceiling frescoes and sculptural art. Its location on a hill overlooking the Bodensee is magnificent. Viewed from the Bodensee, the church is a landmark and easily visible even miles away, due to its elevated position and the absence of other buildings in the vicinity.
Meersburg - between Überlingen and Friedrichshafen - dates back at least to the late 10th century. The bishops of Konstanz ruled from here, first from the old Meersburg castle, since the early 18th century from the "Neues Schloss" palace. These palaces and the picturesque oldtown draw many visitors year-round.
Human settlement can be retraced to the Stone Age in the Bodensee area. In this time, settling along the lake on stilted houses made eminent sense, as one was close to water, food sources, travel to and trade with other settlements over the lake was relatively easy by boat, and the settlements were easy to defend. In the archaeological museum of Unteruhldingen, a museum and a reconstructed village can be visited and give a lot of insight into the life of these earliest Bodensee settlers.
This is a very easy hike between Unteruhldingen and Birnau. The path runs for 3,5 km one-way, unmissable (many sign-posts) and flat. The landscape is very Bodensee-typical with apple-trees and vineyards. The arrival at he Birnau monastery church is rewarding for the view of the Bodensee panorama from here and the architectural treasures of the church.
Mainau Island is known by the Name "Blumeninsel". The island came into posession of the ducal house of Baden and later - through dynastic marriages - to the swedish royal house. Count Lennart Bernadotte developed the gardens and parks of the island since the 1950`s and opened them to the public. Since then, the island draws between 1-2 million visitors each year.
Mainau Island has thematic gardens, parks and arboretums as well as a butterfly house. Historic attractions include the Deutschordens-Schloss Palace and the baroque church St. Marien.
The Island can be reached easily by the "Weisse Flotte" ferries. The shortest connection would be to take the ferry from Unteruhldingen.
Ravensburg is a bit north of the Bodensee, from Lindau it is a 30-45 minute drive. The city center is very nice, there are plenty of old buildings, of course well-kept and of several different styles. You can stay in the shopping areas if you want to, but I advice to also look at the side streets where you find some architectural gems. It is a larger town, but still very cosy.
Before our trip to Lindau I had checked out some guide books from the library and in one of them I had read about a fountain in Lindau, called the Trompeterbrunnen - the fountain of the trumpet player. The book said this fountain showed the statue of a boy in the uniform of the Hitler youth - something I couldn't believe. This would have meant showing a swastika, which is forbidden.
So we went looking for this fountain and when we saw it the two statues on top were those of a boy and a girl, but definitely no relation at all to the Nazis. A plate informed us that this fountain had been redesigned in the year 2000 and is now called the Kinderfestbrunnen - fountain for a children's celebration.
Maybe the guide book was from before 2000 or, and I think this is more likely, the author hadn't researched very thouroughly. Even in 1999 I cannot imagine the displaying of a swastika on a public fountain.
Apart from this, the history of the Kinderfest is very interesting: From the 30-year-war on, in 17th century, the city council of Lindau has taken care of the town's children and even today the children have a celebration each year and pledge their allegiance to their hometown, asking for God's blessing.
A bit away from the lake there is the Diebsturm - thieves' tower. It's got this name because it was used a prison and the thieves were kept there. Built in the 14th century, its first use was as a guard tower.
Right next to it there is one of the oldest churches in the whole area, from 1000. I was sorry I could not go in, it was locked and I wasn't able to find out when it was open. We checked a few times, but in vain. I hope to find out more and will be able to go inside next year.
The Mangturm - Mang tower - is on the promenade at the lake.I loved the colourful tiles on its roof. The tower was built in 13th century and was part of the fortification system of Lindau island, serving also as a lighthouse for many years. The rather strange name is from the neighbouring buildings ( now gone), where the laundry was kept and ironed. An old German word for ironing is "mangeln", and that's the reason for the name. In a way it's the ironing tower.
Lindau is the only port in all of Bavaria, not surprisingly as Bavaria is mostly mountains and far away from any sea. But Lake Constance is also called the Swabian Sea, so the Bavarians feel they can call it a port. The larger part of the town is on the mainland, but the more beautiful one is an island, connected by a bridge. If you come by car, park directly once you've passed the bridge. Parking spaces are very hard to find. We had booked ours when booking the hotel.
It is a beautiful town, many coloured houses, the lake with the sailing boats and the mountains in the background. The old city hall is probably the most famous building, on its fassades you can see Lindau's history done in pictures. The entrance to the harbour is guarded by the Bavarian Lion, on the other side there is a lighthouse. You can climb up the lighthouse. I didn't, the day before the marathon I wanted to save all my strength and on the day after - no way I would have climbed up there then!
I was walking through the small town of Kressbronn at the Bodensee, when I saw a fountain with a large pole sticking out of it. The fountain was in the center of lots of blue ceramic plates which formed a cross. At first, this looked really strange and I didn't understand what it's supposed to be. Then I learned more about it and think it's a wonderful idea:
A few years ago all the children from the local school had joined in a history project. They went to a ceramic factory in Karlsruhe - Karlsruhe Majolika- and learned how make ceramic plates. Each child then chose one incident in the history of Kressbronn and painted it in his/her ceramic plate. There are scenes from the stone age, early farmers and fishers are shown, the first stage coach for delivering the mail , scenes from the Nazi regime, slave workers, bombs in the war to modern Kressbronn, everything was put down on the blue ceramic plates.
These plates then were put down in the center of Kressbronn, forming a cross and in the very center of it there is this fountain, which is supposed to a compass. What I took to be a pole is the compass needle.
I think that's a great history project and I'm sure the children loved this history lesson very much.
Since I've lost all of my pictures, have a look at some of the plates in the link below.
Imperia stands in the German part of Bodensee. It is a symbol for many things. Different people have different theories. But there is one thing on which everyone is agreed that Imperia is the queen of boden see and without Imperia Bodensee is incomplete. So, if you ever go to Kontanz, please do get a few photos of yourself with the Sexy Imperia who lived in Konstanz hundreds of years back.
St. Gallen is some 15-20 miles South of the lake, from Lindau you will need about 1 – ½ hours, depending on traffic. First a warning: if you are German or speak German very well – don’t go there thinking you’d understand anything people say as they speak Swiss German (Schwytzerdeutsch). I am German and I couldn’t understand a single word. Anyway, the shopping street is nice as well as the streets around it. One of the highlights is the large church with an abbey (if I remember correctly) – very impressive. The houses are of course well-tended, lots of half-timbered houses as well as “typically” Swiss houses. You can spend a good part of the afternoon discovering the streets and marvelling at the houses.
Meersburg is one of my favorite places along the Bodensee. It is a small town with a lovely little street on lake-level and the main part of the town on a hill. On lake-level, you can stroll along the nice street and of course don’t forget to walk down to the lake itself, there is a nice small promenade with many restaurants and cafes.
Then, there are either stairs or a steep road leading you up the main part of Meersburg. Several small alleys show you lovely little houses with an old-world bijou charm. To me it always looks like a background to a Charles Dickens story; especially in winter I always expect good old Scrooge to come around the corner.
There are two castles in Meersburg, the old one and the newer one. The new one is very pink and I think it was built in the late 18th / early 19th century, but I am not sure. The old castle dates back from the middle ages and it is definitely worth a visit. You don’t have to take a tour but can walk along on your own, which I usually prefer. The first rooms definitely look as one would imagine a medieval castle to look – bare rough stone walls with sparse furnishing. Absolutely worth seeing and very interesting. Later you get to see the rooms from the later period of the castle. One of Germany’s most famous poets spent the last year of her life her – Annette von Droste-Huelshoff and you can see her rooms including the one in which she died in 1848. Those rooms are a true picture of German Biedermeier, they look lovely and even if you don’t know the poet, you will like the rooms.
Also check out the castle café, it is in a beautiful room of the castle, looks quite posh in a faded way.
Once you have left the castle, discover the streets of Meersburg. From some spots you have a great view over the lake. You will also find some small shops with more touristy items and a large wine shop. Meersburg is very small, so it won’t take you long to see everything, including the castle, but it is definitely worth the visit.
Konstanz is a real gem on the South bank of the Bodensee. You can reach it by ferry from Meersburg or by driving along the South side of the Bodensee (I recommend the ferry, it is fabulous to cross the lake). Konstanz is a city with a wealth of history and you will find an abundance of century-old well-kept buildings. Close to the river there is a little pier and on the end of it you will find a statue of a lady turning around eternally. She looks quite inviting, free a bare upper body and one leg sneaking from her skirt and in her hands she holds the former medieval German Emperor Sigismund and the Pope. This of course has a history, the statue is there to commemorate the Council of Konstanz in 1414 AD where the highest people of state and church gathered – as well as innumerable ladies of the night who senses a big business opportunity in the council. So the statue represents one of the ladies of the night. Shocking, I know ;-), but what can you do?
Anway, just enjoy strolling the streets of Konstanz. It is a larger town so it will do nicely for a day’s outing. There are also several shops, to my knowledge more than in any other town of the Bodensee. Konstanz will give you fabulous old buildings in different styles, nice restaurants and shops and a good deal of history.