Insel Reichenau is located to the west of Konstanz.
But only go there when you interested in Churches and Monasteries.
The whole island is a designated Unesco World Heritage Site.
The three main attractions are Minster St. Maria and Markus, church St. Georg and church St. Peter and Paul.
Out of the three my favourite one is St. Peter and Paul because of its decoration iside.
Around christmas, the churchases show displays of the three Magi, Twelth Day or Bethlehem.
The German term is Krippen.
Adjacent to the churaches, you should find small museums who explain the churches and the history further.
You can go to Island Mainau by boat or by local bus no 4.
There you find plenty of flowers, tropical flower house, butterfly house, a small zoo, a palace, exhibition halls and facilities for lunch, picknic and souvenir shops.
Konstanz has a superb lakefront that provides almost endless opportunities for outdoor activities. Cyclists, rollerskaters and pedestrians make good use of the well constructed promenade, whilst more hardy souls indulge in a range of water sports.
The pace is unhurried and the atmosphere is laid back - a lovely place to while away a few hours whether you're being virtuously active or doing absolutely nothing at all.
The day we visited Konstanz was unmercifully hot. It had been threatening to rain for days, but despite the menacing cloud formations and oppressive humidity, the promised rain never quite arrived.
By the time we reached the main square, our little daughter was thoroughly hot and bothered. We paused by a small fountain and briefly turned our backs on our daughter to admire the bronze sculptures of rabbits - and by the time we turned back, she has stripped off and was splashing delightedly in the fountain!
By then, it was too late to object, and she was so clearly enjoying the respite from the heat that we didn't have the heart to remove her immediately. However, seeing what a good time she was having, several local children followed her cue and plunged in to join her, much to the horror of their parents! We were mortified that we had unwittingly inspired such insurrection among ordinarily well behaved local children, but by then, the damage was done, so we pretended not to be able to speak German and closed our ears to their parents' outraged muttering ...
If you've come to a lakeside destination like this, chances are you might be interested in riding a lake boat. BSB has the most frequent departures from Konstanz, serving destinations such as Mainau, Rohrschach, Ludwigshafen, Friedrichshafen, Lindau, and Bregenz. Excursion boats also depart for Stein am Rhein and Schaffhausen for those who want to see the Rheinfallen. One of the most common destinations for day-trippers is the "flower island" of Mainau. For those who wish to travel here, a few direct boats (direction "Überlingen") depart from Konstanz. However, connections to more frequent boats to the island can be made in Meersburg. Be sure to check at the BSB ticket counter for your best options. Also ask about the "Mainau Kombi-Karte" that includes boat fare and admission to the Mainau flower park. Discounts for families are also available.
When you ride, be aware some of your fellow riders are very mindful of order, and aren't shy about sharing their way of doing things with you. I was chastised by one individual because a drop of Minifrosch's sunscreen fell on the deck. A few minutes after I cleaned that up, we were castigated by another person who was concerned we hadn't put enough sunscreen on Minifrosch. In hindsight, pretending not to understand German might have been a wiser course of action. Anyway, I'm happy to say the little one made it through the day's events without any further mess or permanent skin damage.
As you explore the lake, you can't help but notice a large statue. While from a distance you might assume this is a stately work of art commemorating something ancient and noble, as you get closer, you notice... well, perhaps the commemoration isn't for something all that noble, though of an ancient profession.
The statue is actually of a 9 meter (30 foot) tall, scantily-clad prostitute, holding a naked man in each hand. Further enhancing the, er, visual effect, the statue slowly rotates once every 4 minutes, so onlookers can appreciate the view from all angles. A "Chick on a Stick," if you will.
The statue is actually relatively new, created by artist Peter Lenk in 1993. It isn't of an actual person, but rather the main character from the Balzac short story, "La belle Impéria." And, whether the locals like it or not, the chick on a stick has become the most visible symbol of Konstanz.
Lots of different kind of fishes. New since April 2007: sea turtles.
Unfortunately, the link is only in German.
July - 11. September (daily) 10.00am - 07.00pm*
May - June und ab 12. Sept. - Oct. (daily) 10.00 - 18.00 Uhr*
November - April (Monday to Friday) 10.00am - 05.00pm*
(Saturday, Sunday, holiday und school holidays Daden-Wurttemberg) 10.00 - 06.00pm*
*Last admission 1 hour before closing.
Closed on Christmas Eve.
Dogs are not allowed due to veterinarian law.
About 1 km (1/2 mile) south of the train station is the Swiss border. It's quite easy to walk southward along a path east of the railroad tracks and work your way to Kreuzlingen, Switzerland. We took Minifrosch on a little stroll and stumbled across the borderline. Our 2-country walking loop took all of 30 minutes. While this might have been a big deal in the past, with the new Schengen Agreement, passage between Germany and Switzerland has all the drama of crossing from one U.S. state to another. Still, we had left our passports at the hotel. Did we inadvertently make Minifrosch an illegal alien? :)
On Dec 23, 2011 the old town of Konstanz saw a fire that left a deep shock and a deep scar. Three medieval houses in the centre, along the main pedestrian street and on the same block as the old town hall, burned down, one of them collapsed. Luckily there was no one killed, but 54 people lost their home one day before Christmas.
Many thanks to german_eagle for the photo of the same street corner in August 2010 (photo 2) as I had not taken one then - it's the red house with the shoe shop on the corner.
The ruin has not yet been cleared. Archeologists are to do some research first, as this is a unique chance to look into the bowels of the medieval town. It is a scary sight.
Photos of the fire on the website of SWR
When you're in Konstanz, why not crossing the border into Switzerland for an excursion? Especially since the Swiss town Kreuzlingen - Konstanz's sister town - borders to the southern parts of Konstanz - you hardly realise you cross the border. When driving you still see the relics of the border checkpoint but not as walker along the lake or by bus/train.
Kreuzlingen's main attraction is the Baroque basilica St. Ulrich which has a remarkable interior with a stunning Mount of Olives scene (280 small figures from 1720 - 40), frescos, a crucifixus ... The complex of the town hall, a Baroque townhouse with nice garden on the main street, is also worth a look. However, I enjoyed the gardens of castle Seeburg right by the lake the most. Absolutely fantastic! Smaller designed parts alternate with larger ones left naturally (it seems). And then the views of the lake ... or from the wooden viewing tower toward Konstanz!
I highly recommend to rent a bike to explore Kreuzlingen - distances are quite long for walking. Or take a boat or bus.
Reichenau is the largest island in Lake Konstanz - 5 km long, 1.5 km wide, pop. 3,000 right on the island. The three churches with their frescos and other works of art are some of the most stunning examples of early Romanesque architecture and art in Germany, thus are listed UNESCO world heritage. The first Benedictine monastery was established 724. Until the 11th century it was a centre of arts and liturgy. Most famous are the books created during that era which are nowadays to find in museums all over the world, hardly on Reichenau anymore.
I did a cycling trip to Reichenau which is pretty easy from Konstanz. Cycling trails separated from roads lead around the lake and also to the island (which is linked to the banks of the lake by a dam), and of course also all over the island. From Konstanz it is about a half hour by bike to Reichenau. Another option is to take the train (stop Reichenau) and bus to the island.
Highlights for visitors are the three Romanesque churches - gorgeous architecture, frescos and other works of art. I had time to visit St. Georg in Oberzell (the first one after getting on the island) and the Minster St. Mary and St. Mark in Mittelzell before it started raining cats and dogs. So I decided to take the shortcut to the boat pier on the southern side of the island and hop on the boat coming from Stein am Rhein (Switzerland) and going back to Konstanz - which is the third option of getting to/from Reichenau. Driving would be an option, too, but it's not half as enjoyable IMO.
Be prepared that St. Georg is only to see with guided tours starting at 10 am, 2 and 4 pm. The Minster church is always open. The treasure chamber costs a small entrance fee, the church itself is free.
I almost missed this beautiful place. On the way back from Konstanz-Staad (where I gave up on visiting Meersburg due to lack of time) I got off the bus and decided to visit this chapel. Of course a thunderstorm with heavy rain caught me right on top of the hill. But I was on pilgrimage, so what bad could happen ...? LOL
Anyway, the complex of chapel, open wooden praying house, vicarage, cross column and fountain is absolutely picturesque. Even in the rain. The chapel was consegrated 1638 resulting from a vow that the people of Konstanz did in 1632 when they feared the city would be besieged by Swedish troops (as it happened from 1633 on). The Miraculous statue of St. Mary in the chapel dates from Gothic times, though, was brought here after the chapel was completed.
The chapel is always open. Feel free to go inside and watch the (very) small room. The interior is modelled after the original Loreto chapel in Ancona/Italy - altar, crucifixion group and frescos. The vaulted ceiling is blue, just like the sky.
Quite interesting for me was that there is a wooden open praying hall where the pilgrims use to follow the mass that is celebrated in front of the open altar on the western side of the chapel - unfortunately the doors to this altar are only open during mass.
My favourite place in Konstanz is the tree-lined lake promenade that stretches east from the Rhine bridge. It starts off with some very beautiful turn-of-the-century townhouses while later gardens with beautiful single houses dominate the scene. There are flower beds, benches where you can rest and enjoy the views of the lake, the boats, the old town silhouette and - weather co-operating - the Alps in the far distance.
Soon you'll pass the Casino, a dependancy of the one in Baden-Baden, with nice garden and restaurant. Two upscale hotels follow, finally the Villa Prym vis-a-vis the yacht harbour with very beauitful garden. It was built for an entrepreneur in 1908 and is now occupied by the Yachting Club and the College of Communication Design. You're free to walk up to the villa and watch the stunning Art Nouveau frescos on the facade.
At this place the promenade turns into a small path that follows the shore of the lake. It's pure nature from there on, no landscaping design. I walked it to the new Thermal Bath where I caught the bus back into town. There's also a pier there from which boats go back to Konstanz old town (infrequently).
The so called "Konzilgebäude" has by far not the most interesting architecture in Konstanz, even less so as it is not accessible for sightseeing - it is now an upscale restaurant and conference place. But it is quite picturesque and seeing it may peek interest of people to know more about its history. That's where it becomes interesting.
Erected in 1388 as building for the merchants (Konstanz was on a main trading route from Milan to Germany) it was the upper hall where in 1417 Pope Martin V was elected during the council of Konstanz - the largest conference in medieval times with about 50,000 participants. The council had historic significance. With the election of the new Pope the schism of the three Popes (John XXIII, Benedict XIII, Gregor XII) was overcome. The sad part of the council was the execution of Jan Hus, though.
When I visited construction works went on in the building. I saw a sign with "Restoration" on it, but I guess its more redesign for larger conferences and more upscale dining in the future. Anyway, the average tourist won't be able to see the interior anyway.
Another work of Peter Lenk, created in 1990, is the Laube fountain, often called Lenk fountain. It is not just another fountain, it is designed as a triumphal arch with a number of sculptures caricaturing the bad habits of nowadays society - like the obsessions with cars and sex, vanity etc.
I adore this monument. I've never seen something similar. Hat off to the sculptor, he did a great job. Take your time and watch the details closely. And you might feel like looking into a mirror, maybe ... :-)