Konstanz Things to Do

  • As the Statue Turns...
    As the Statue Turns...
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  • Statue of Imperia
    Statue of Imperia
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  • Imperia surveys the lake
    Imperia surveys the lake
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Most Recent Things to Do in Konstanz

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    Imperia

    by german_eagle Written Feb 23, 2011

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    The statue of Imperia is the new landmark of Konstanz. It greets anyone arriving by boat as it is located on the far end of the pier that sort of forms a gateway to the harbour. The statue was created by sculptor Peter Lenk in 1993, a guy who did some other works of art in the city, all of them causing discussions.

    The statue depicts courtesan Imperia, the Emperor in one hand and the Pope in the other. It reflects the era of the Council of Konstanz (1414 - 18). The catholic church had - for obvious reasons - problems with the statue and attacked the sculptor verbally at first. In the meantime everyone has calmed down, though.

    The statue rotates on a podestal so you can see it from all sides.

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    "Schnetztor "City Gate

    by german_eagle Written Feb 23, 2011

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    The most picturesque of the three preserved city towers is the so called "Schnetztor" in the southern old town. It is located at the southern end of Hussenstraße, next to the Hus museum.

    The outer side of the tower is massive sandstone, the side to the old town is timber-framed. Up on the roof is a ridge turret with a bell. Inside is a room that is used by a jesters guild/carnival club.

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    City Towers

    by german_eagle Written Feb 23, 2011

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    Powder Tower
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    Three of the city towers that once were part of the fortifications are still preserved. Two of them are right by the Rhine river, at the northern end of the old town.

    The western of the two towers is called Powder Tower. It was built 1321 by the Jews as their contribution for the construction of the fortifications. Ironically (and sadly) Jews were held for ransom in this tower between 1430 and 1443.

    Farther east, right by the big bridge, is the Rhine Gate Tower from the 15th century, parts of it dating from the 13th century. The gate led to the Rhine bridge, the first one built in medieval times, replaced by a larger one in 1585 that burned down 1856. A modern bridge was built in short distance closer to the lake in 1863 - enlarged a couple of times it is still there nowadays. The Rhine Gate Tower is massive sandstone on the riverside but timber framed on the city side. It is home of the Fasnacht (carnival) museum. Not my cup of tea :-)

    Between the two towers you see four sandstone statues from the 19th century depicting Dukes of Baden and Bishops of Konstanz. Another statue, right in front of the Rhine Gate Tower, depicts Saint Nepomuk, the saint of the bridges - how appropriate!

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    Dreifaltigkeitskirche (Trinity church)

    by german_eagle Updated Feb 23, 2011

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    Trinity church interior
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    This church looks simple from outside, without a steeple as usual for church of the Augustine order for which is was originally built around 1300. But inside it is beautiful Baroque - not the overly ornate southern Baroque typical for southern Germany, though. That's why I loved it! Besides, the church was thoroughly restored 1999-2006 and it shows.

    The medieval interior was removed during the reformation. In the Baroque era several altars from Einsiedeln/Switzerland were brought to Konstanz and put up in this church - all of them very beautiful. Please note the excellent stucco works and frescos on the ceiling from the same era. Only in 1906 the frescos from 1417/18 on the walls in the main nave that were donated by King Sigismund during the council were uncovered again.

    The Augustine monastery was closed 1810 and from 1812 on the church was Parish church, renamed Trinity church instead of Augustine church. The remaining buildings of the former monastery were torn down after 1874.

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    Town Hall

    by german_eagle Written Feb 23, 2011

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    town hall facade to Kanzleistra��e
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    The town hall is a complex of two buildings forming two courtyards. The facade to Kanzleistraße is decorated with frescos from 1864 depicting scenes from the town's history. The buildings, however, are much older - the guild house of the weavers and grocers was turned into the town hall 1589 - 94. The Renaissance style is clearly visible in the courtyard, especially on the facade of the back building.

    Don't hesitate to open one of the doors and walk inside - it's a public building, after all. I even had a chance to peek inside the Gothic council's hall (pic 5) where the city council still meets nowadays.

    Definitely walk through to the second courtyard which is a green oasis in the old town. Quiet, with benches to rest (picnic!). You can leave the courtyard through another door in the back, getting to the Blätzle square with modern buildings (shopping malls).

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    Rosgarten museum

    by german_eagle Updated Feb 22, 2011

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    The Rosgarten museum is one of the *must* things to do and see in Konstanz. It is located in the former butchers' guildhall, erected in 1304, the structure of course with several changes over the centuries. Since 1870 it hosts the museum.

    On the ground floor you can see a wonderful model of the city Konstanz around 1600. The model was built 1862/63! In the other hall on the ground floor pieces of the stunning paleontological and mineralogical collection are on display. Among them is the largest collection of the so called "Pfahlbaukultur", a civilisation that lived around Lake Konstanz 9 - 12,000 years B.C.

    Upstairs are the fantastic, very beautiful rooms from past centuries: the guild hall with wooden panels on ceilings and walls, carvings, furniture. You can see excellent works of art from mostly medieval times but also from Baroque and later.

    Again upstairs, under the roof, is a very interesting exhibit about Konstanz from WWI to the end of WWII. Well done, the atmosphere is perfectly captured.

    After all the sightseeing don't miss the lovely cafe in the same building. See my separate tip under "Restaurants"!

    Opening hours:
    Tue-Fri 10-18 h
    Sat/Sun 10-17 h
    Admission fee: 3 Euro, Wednesday after 3 pm free!

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    Wessenberg house

    by german_eagle Updated Feb 22, 2011

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    Wessenberg house (Minster church left)
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    Right across from the main portal of the Minster church is a modern annex to the Wessenberg house, now the entrance for the public to this building. The complex is home of the city's public library (in the modern annex) and the Wessenberg gallery with a permanent and also temporary exhibitions. In the quiet courtyard is a nice cafe.

    Originally the Wessenberg house was built 1641. Inside nice stucco ceilings and fireplaces from that era are preserved. It was home of the last bishop of Konstanz, Ignaz Heinrich von Wessenberg - thus the name.

    The permanent exhibit was mildly interesting - have seen much better ones. It's mostly drawings formerly owned by the Granddukes of Baden and paintings that von Wessenberg bought - mostly contemporary copies of famous works. Better go and see the originals somewhere else. On the other hand, the temporary exhibit that I saw was pretty interesting: A photo exhibit of students from a local school. Quite nice also the chance to rummage in the city library, no fee and no registration necessary.

    The admission to the gallery is 3 Euro.
    Opening hours: Tue-Fri 10 - 18 h, Sat/Sun 10 - 17 h

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    Minster church

    by german_eagle Updated Feb 21, 2011

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    western facade of the minster
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    The Minster of Our Dear Lady, erected on a hill in the centre of the old town, is *the* landmark of Konstanz. It has been the home of the bishop of one of the earliest, largest and most important bishopries for centuries. The current building goes back to the Romanesque church that was erected 1052 - 89 replacing an even earlier church. The minster has seen some construction works over the centuries, so in the 14th and 15th centuries which led to the Gothic style appearance as you see it nowadays, the construction of the vaults in the 17th century and that of the tops of the steeples 1846 - 60.

    The Minster - like whole Konstanz - is a place where world history was written: It was the main place for the council 1414 - 18 during which Martin V was elected pope, but also where Jan Hus was executed in 1415.

    The church is quite an impressive sight from the outside. The western front towers up mightily above the townhouses, especially approaching from one of the small alleys in the old town. To the left you see the delicate Gothic exterior of the Welser chapel. Farther left you can have a look at the two remaining wings of the cloisters. The entrance during the day is from the western (main) portal. For guided tours in the evening use the portal at the southern facade by the St. Mary column.

    For more info on the history of the Bishopry and the minster please have a look at Kathrin_E's page as well.

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    Minster church - guided tour

    by german_eagle Updated Feb 21, 2011

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    former chapter hall
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    I had seen the interior of the Minster church during the day on my own, but I saw a guided tour was scheduled at 7 pm (in German). This is not to be missed! You get to hear a lot about the history of bishopry and church (in German, though) and can see even the otherwise inaccessible parts of the complex - the chapter hall, the sacristy and the high choir.

    The chapter hall above the cloisters was built 1453 - 80 and is very beautiful. Nowadays it is used for service of congregations of foreigners (Italians, Spaniards, Croatians). The tour continues through the sacristy where you can see liturgical things (e.g. vestments) and works of art, followed by a look into an office room. It ends in the high choir which is not accessible otherwise. You can take a seat in the wonderfully carved wooden pewage and have a closer look at the altar (pic 4) as well as the southern choir with beautiful altar and ceilings (pic 5).

    The tour is free but a small donation is welcome.

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    Minster church - crypt and cloisters

    by german_eagle Updated Feb 21, 2011

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    Konradi chapel
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    One of the highlights for me was the crypt - it is a remaining part of the previous church and was built in the 9th, enlarged in the 10th century. In the crypt you can see the originals of the golden discs that were originally placed at the eastern outside of the choir, greeting the people approaching Konstanz by boat from afar. The largest of the golden discs has a diameter of almost 2 m and depicts a blessing Jesus Christ (maiestas domini). It was probably created in the 10th century, but this is questioned by the scientists. The three smaller discs were made in the 13th century. All of them are stunning - copper plates on wood with gold coating.

    You get to the crypt by walking down a few steps from the Thomas choir to the Konradi chapel. This chapel holds the (empty) tomb of Saint Konrad, the patron of the bishopry, from the 14th century. Above the tomb you see an excellent late-Gothic altar from 1524 (main picture).

    Another highlight is the Mauritius rotonda, accessible from the cloisters (only two wings of the Gothic cloisters are preserved). The rotonda was built in the 13th century, the Gothic high vault is from the 15th century. Recently frescos from the Renaissance were found and restored in a side chapel (pic 5). The rotonda's main sight, however, is the holy sepulchre which was created around the year 1500. It has the shape of a small dodecagonal temple, modeled after the original in Jerusalem. Please have a closer look at all the figures and sculptures and beautiful details.

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    Minster church - interior

    by german_eagle Updated Feb 21, 2011

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    main nave, view toward choir
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    My first impression upon entering the church was that of a very large but quite empty room. This goes back to the reformation - Zwingli was priest here from 1505 on and did a good job in throwing out many of the beautiful pieces. However, there's enough left that's worth to see.

    Definitely walk along the side naves and have a look at the many chapels along them. Each is different and each is beautiful. The Welser chapel in the northwest corner is a masterpiece of Gothic art. The balcony on which the huge modern organ is placed was built in the Renaissance (1516 - 18) - note the delicate details.

    A somewhat strange work of art is the so called "Schnegg", the hexagonal staircase in St. Thomas choir (north side). It combines elements of French late-Gothic constructions with the architecture of pulpits and steeples of the same era. It was created 1438. Quite beautiful is also the altar next to the Schnegg.

    The main altar is from 1774, the pulpit is a work from St. Gallen, created 1780. Worth to see are also the stained glass windows that give a rather dark, mystic light to the interior despite the white colour of the walls and ceiling.

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    Explore the Rhine's aquatic habitats at Sea Life

    by CatherineReichardt Written Sep 8, 2010

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    I have visited the Sea Life aquaria in both Konstanz and Konigswinter, and am in two minds about whether I really like this chain or not. On the one hand, they are guaranteed to keep kids happily occupied and do have educational value, and on the other, they are hellish expensive (and that's even before you have to run the gauntlet of the gift shop through which you have no alternative but to exit) and perilously close to being a theme park rather than a nature experience.
    Regardless of my misgivings, we retreated into the Konstanz aquarium to escape the oppressive midday heat. Here I have to give the designers credit for local context, as much of the aquarium is given over to recreating the various aquatic habitats along the course of the Rhine, from the glacial meltwater streams which sustain the river's headwaters down through Bodensee and the main Rhine valley to the river mouth at Rotterdam.
    Needless to say, on such a blisteringly hot day, we paid particularly close attention to the first part of the exhibit and loitered in the refrigerated surroundings of the glacial habitat as long as we could!

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    Romantic Walk at Sunset

    by Kathrin_E Written Aug 15, 2010

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    Romantic walk at sunset
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    To enjoy a romantic walk at sunset with your loved one, your best choice is the path along the lake bank on the northern side of the Konstanz bight. From the old town, cross the Rhine bridge and then follow the lake bank. The sun sets, depending on the season, more or less behind the old town panorama. You pass some residential streets and marinas at firs, then the promenade continues through a park.

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    Virgin Mary Column

    by Kathrin_E Updated Aug 15, 2010

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    Virgin Mary statue on top of the column
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    The Madonna is watching over the city. High up on top of a freestanding column a statue of the Virgin Mary has been put up. The Mary Column is standing in the middle of the quiet square south of Münster Church.

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    Lutherkirche - Lutheran Church

    by Kathrin_E Written Aug 15, 2010

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    Protestant church

    Attempts to introduce the reformation in Konstanz were not successful for long. A protestant community was then re-established only in the 19th century when the city became property of the Grand Duchy of Baden. The protestant parish church was built outside the old town in 1864 – 1873 in the typical historism of those times.

    I once attended a Sunday service there. It felt really strange, I have never experienced such an eerie atmosphere anywhere else: no one was singing the hymns. We tried at first but quickly stopped because it felt embarrassing. Weird community.

    Location: Lutherplatz

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