Mainau has Gernmany's largest butterfly house. It's a beautiful, tropical preserve that houses more than 25 types of butterflies. It's an extraordinarily peaceful place. In display cases you can watch them emerge from their cocoons and in the rest of the area they are free to inhabit as they like. Don't miss the Butterfly Bistro either, if you're craving a snack.
The arboretum was founded by the Grand Duke Friedrich I. Due to his special liking for rare woody plants from all over the world the first exotic trees arrived on the Mainau shortly after he had acquired the island in 1853. Today the tree collection of the Mainau consists of more than 500 different kinds of deciduous trees and conifers. It makes the Mainau a exceptional park experience – at any time of the season. The park invites you to promenade, stay for a while and to study. Welcome under huge Giant sequoias, Atlas cedars and cedars of Lebanon, Redwood and Tulip Trees – to name only some of the most famous.
We especially liked this area because it gave us a place to sit down, write in our journals, eat our ice cream, and people watch under the shade.
During the warm season a lot of tropical plants line the way to the arena of fountains: a White Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia nicolai) and the Trumpet Vine (Campsis grandiflora), a climbing small wood which from July on
shows its beautiful orange blossoms. A nice artistic touch is created by the bronze sculpture of a bird which was given as a present to Count Lennarts 70th birthday.
From spring to autumn the palm house is standing here, architecturally interesting and an oasis in the cold time of year. More than 20 different sorts of palm trees and a valuable collection of exotic plants can be seen here. Among them a Canary Island date palm (Phoenix canariensis), more than 15 meters high, which was planted in 1888.
It offers a unique setting for plant shows, high-calibre events and invites you to stay a while; most of all the famous orchid show in spring invites. The whole year round it is a pleasure to sit on the terrace of the castle café in the palm grove. Also from an architectural point of view the palm house is a feast for the eyes – it was completely renovated in 1998.
This is not your typical castle. For one thing, the family of Count Bernadotte lives there, which means it's not jus a museum but an actual vacation home. Guests are also welcome to visit exhibitions, the castle café and other events. In June/July they have classical concerts, in December a Christmas tree, and sometimes welcome important guests.
This was definitely my favorite part of the island because I love roses. They extend from the castle terrace over the curved staircase to the Italian garden. The strictly geometrical garden with pergolas, sculptures and fountains is mainly devoted to the nobler sorts of roses of both older and new cultivation. Floribunda and polyantha roses give pleasure with their abundance of blossoms, elegant high stems of roses enthrall while you stroll by. Sweet smells, beauty, abundance of blossoms and the elegance of the rose become a sensual experience here. Each year in June/July the Mainau guests are invited to elect the Queen of Roses.
From Konstanz one can take the bus to the Mainau Island, the bus leave you at few meters from the bridge that you will cross to enter the world of flowers. This is a narrow bridge, giving you views of the Lake Constance and the Mainau Island.
Right after entering the island (after paying the ticket), you have the first opportunity to take some pictures with the big ducks made from flowers, or the big five meter high flower, made also from flowers, or the big pea-cock withe a great tail made also from flowers.
The Gardener´s Tower, also called Peel Tower, recounts the Mainau history of the Middle Ages and the 19th century. In co-operation with the Bodenseestiftung (Lake Constance Foundation) the Mainau has etablished a modern information centre. Impressive: the multivision with amazing pictures of the scenery of Lake Constance and its outlook for the future
Together with the castle, the Church St. Marien forms a unique baroque ensemble which ranks among the most splendid historical places of interest of Lake Constance. Inside the church you find a solemn yet cheerful world of sculptures, frescos and stucco. No wonder the castle church provides an atmospheric setting for weddings and for church and worldly concerts.
The Castle of the Teutonic Order was built between 1739 and 1746 according to the plans and under the supervision of Johann Caspar Bagnato. In spite of limited resources, a highly balanced, symmetrical castle construction of great harmony was created. The arms of the two side wings open to the mainland in the shape of a horseshoe, while the broad side is turned towards the lake.
The building rests on a base from which two storeys rise. On the west gable you can see the splendid arms of the Grand Master Clemens August of Bavaria, the country commander Phillipp von Froberg and the Mainau commander Friedrich von Baden. The east gable towards the lake bears the arms of the Teutonic Order.
In his plans, Bagnato abstains from a magnificent, representative hallway as e.g. in the castle of Würzburg. The upper floors are reached via modest staircases in the side wings. The core of the castle is the former audience hall, the so-called "White Hall" with a colour scheme of white and gold, which acquired its modern appearance in 1883. It is open to the public only for concerts or special events. Also the arms hall, central room in the basement floor of the original corps de logis, is accessible to the public within the scope of changing exhibitions. In addition to that you can visit the rooms of the castle café at the crossing point to the palm house. In their clear architectural language, church and castle form a brilliant, harmonical ensemble – they are a unique example of the south German baroque period.
The Archway House is located at the entrance of the castle area. It was presumably built by Franz Anton Bagnato, the son of the castle architect. The date 1764 and the coat of arms of the country commander Count Königsegg indicate that. The classical annex goes back to the 19th century. In the old days the moat ran directly along the building. Today it accommodates parts of the Mainau administration as well as the Mainau service centre.
At the south-west side of the crest of the island, quite near the botanical wine trail and the arboretum, is the Swedish Tower. In the old days it probably served as a watchtower for the castle towards the mainland. The date 1558, above the entrance door, tells us something about its period of origin, as well as the arms of the Teutonic Order and of the commander Georg von Gemmingen. The wood paneling of the upper floor and the pointed helm roof of the Swedish tower are – as in the case of the Gardener´s Tower – owed to the 19th century with its historic architectural view.
The Flower Island is located in the Lake Bodensee. Lake is very clean, and I was craving to go and take a swim in it. However, I think that would be illegal. Ducks everywhere, docks, nice pathway along the coast... really a place to relax and forget all your worries....
While on the island, be sure to stop in and see the Butterfly House. It's a large greenhouse with all sorts of (I think) tropical plants and flowers. But best of all, there are hundreds of beautiful butterflies flying around. Put out your hands and some of the butterflies will even land on your fingers.