Reichenau Things to Do
All three of Reichenau's three churches are outstanding , but my personal favourite is the extraordinary Church of St George.The church dates from about 890 AD and I am reliably informed that the architecture is 'pre Romanesque', which serves to further reinforce how very, very old this church is. The simplicity of the lines is stunning, and I find...more
Reichenau is extraordinarily productive from an agricultural point of view, and travelling around the island, you get the distinct sense that every square inch (this phrase doesn't work in metric units!) that isn't occupied by a historic building is cultivated!Reichenau's agriculture has focused primarily on high value market gardening ('truck...more
The Church of St Mary and St Markus is attached to the Benedictine monastery, and is the closest of Reichenau's three surviving churches to the ferry quay.The oldest part of the church dates back to the early ninth century, but the original structure has been continually modified over the centuries, with later Gothic and Baroque additions and...more
The Benedictine monastery on Reichenau was founded in 724 AD by St Pirmin and exerted a powerful influence on the development of the whole island, particularly during the 10th and 11th century, when Reichenau was recognised as an important centre of culture and learning.Sadly the Benedictine community disbanded in the 18th century after 1000 years...more
South of the minster church are the former abbey buildings, forming a nice courtyard which is used for concerts and other events. They were erected 1605 - 10 in early Baroque style before the buildings of the old abbey - located north of the church - were torn down. Nowadays they are home to the town's administration and also the vicarage...more
The choir and the treasure chamber (the former sacristy) are open only for very limited time per day - from April to October 11-12 and 15-16 h. Entrance fee is two or three Euro, cannot exactly recall. I was fortunate enough to be able to join a guided tour, although the guide's English was very poor.Well worth a look are the frescos in the choir....more
The Minster church, now parish church of Reichenau, is probably the highlight of the sights on the island. I approached it via the bike trail from St. Georg along the northern side of the island which gave me nice photo opportunities with the herbal garden in the foreground. The weather didn't co-operate, though :(The church as you see it nowadays...more
Coming from the mainland via the dam the first church you see is St. Georg, built around 900 (!) as a basilica. The western apse was added around the year 1000, the narthex was built in the 11th century.The church is famous for its paintings, done in a mix of fresco and secco technique, along the walls of the main nave from the 10th century. Nine...more
My fiancé and I took a bike trip around Reichenau and it was amazing. We rode from Konstanz, and around the entire island. The ride is somewhat long (20-25 km round trip from Konstanz), but is mostly flat and not a difficult ride. The bike paths on the island take you along the causeway to the island, and then around the island on paths going...more
The excellent Island Bus is a fantastic way to explore Reichenau if you don't have your own transport. The route circles the island, and because it's so small, it's never too far a walk from the stop to where you're heading. The round trip takes 30 minutes, and you can get on and off at will.Unexpectedly, this service operates using a double...more
Apologies for the shameless pun, but I just couldn't resist the temptation!There are a couple of options for getting to Reichenau, but by far the nicest is to catch the ferry from Konstanz - the trip takes just under an hour and is very scenic as the ferry navigates through the narrow western section of Bodensee. If you click on the photo to...more
Due to the heavy rain that set in after I visited the second of the churches I decided I needed to take the boat back to Konstanz instead of cycling.There are two boat lines that run to/from Reichenau. One connects the northern side of the island with Allensbach on the mainland. It is operated by Schifffahrt Baumann, a small German company. The...more
Reichenau Warnings and Dangers
Visiting churches is one of the absolute highlights of a trip to Europe, and provides a fascinating insight into the most powerful influencethat has shaped European cultures of the past couple of millenia.
Unlike some other religions - where access to places of worship may be restricted to members of that religious group or a specific gender - the vast majority of Christian churches will allow tourists to visit at most times, including routine services (although some may charge an admission fee for doing so, and access may be denied for private events such as weddings and funerals). However, tourists should realise that most churches are still active places of worship, and so visitors need to exhibit a certain sensitivity to display respect to the culture and avoid giving offence to people at prayer.
The following guidelines are based on wonderful advice offered by Homer (homaned) - who does this for a living - in a forum response, and although specifically written for Christian places of worship, would apply equally to places of worship for other religions
So, here is a general list of do's and don'ts for people wishing to photograph during a church service:
READ THE SIGNS
If photography is not permitted - because, for example, it may damage paint on delicate murals - this will usually be indicated by a pictogram of a camera with a red line through it. Under most circumstances, you can assume that photography will be allowed (unless otherwise indicated), but may not be permitted during services. If in doubt, ask for clarification - this shows respect and will very seldom be met with anything other than a helpful response.
TURN OFF YOUR FLASH!
Every camera on the market has a button on it which will turn off the flash. The number one most alarming and distracting thing that can happen during a liturgy, and one which will even get you kicked out of some churches, is the bright flash that goes off when you take a picture. Not only is it distracting, but it usually makes the picture turn out dark, because your camera's flash only has about a 10-15' range. Turn off the flash, and hold the camera up against your eye, using the viewfinder, and you will likely get a better picture (and you definitely won't have any red-eye problems!).
DON'T MOVE AROUND ALL OVER THE PLACE! (UNLESS YOU HAVE PERMISSION)
Instead of walking all over down the main aisle and in front of everybody, pick a good place from which to take a picture at the beginning of the liturgy, and stay there. Unless you're a professional photographer with practice at stealthily moving during liturgies, you're a distraction, and you're being disrespectful. Even if you're a pro, try to stick to one out-of-the-way place, and use a zoom lens and zoom in to get pictures. Walking in front of people is a surefire way to distract and disrespect and closing in on priests or other celebrants just to capitalise on a photo opportunity is offensive.
TURN OFF THE CAMERA'S SOUND!
Every camera has some way to mute all its 'cute' beeps and clicking noises. If you press a button, and hear a beep, or if you take a picture and hear an obnoxious shutter clicking sound, you need to turn off those sounds (the muting option is usually in one of the menus). Along with the flashing, it's an obvious sign that someone is taking pictures and not showing much respect for those trying to pay attention to the liturgy.
TURN OFF THE 'FOCUS ASSIST' LIGHT!
If your camera can't focus without the little laser-light that shines in everyone's eyes before your camera takes a picture, then don't use your camera. You have to turn that light off! It is very distracting to be watching a lector or priest, and see a little red dot or lines pop up on his face all of the sudden. It's as if some rifleman is making his mark! Turn the light off (again, look in the menus for the option to turn off the 'AF assist' or 'focus assist' light). If you can't turn it off, put a piece of duct tape or some other opaque material over the area where the light is, so the light won't shine on someone.
TURN OFF THE CAMERA'S LCD!
You should never use the LCD to compose your shots anyways; just put your eye up to the viewfinder, and that will not only not distract, it will also steady your camera against your face, making for a better picture (especially if you don't have the flash on). And if you must review the pictures you've taken, hold the camera in front of you, down low, so people behind you don't notice the big, bright LCD display on your camera
CERTAIN PARTS OF THE CEREMONY ARE PARTICULARLY SENSITIVE
The consecration (blessing) of the eucharist (bread and wine) and distribution of communion to the congregation are considered to be particularly sacred parts of the service, and it is offensive to photograph these activities.
The main thing is to try to be respectful of the culture and of other people present at the service. Don't distract. And, if you are asked to not take pictures, or if there's a sign saying 'no photography allowed,' then don't take pictures. You can always ask a priest's permission before the liturgy, but if he says 'No,' put away your camera and enjoy the freedom you have to focus on the privilege of being able to share an experience with people who consider these religious rituals core to their culture and identity, rather than focusing on your camera's LCD!
Homer's Rules ... Homer rules!
If you're cycling across the island like I did you get a good impression of the agriculture which is major business there. Many years ago it was viticulture but that has changed. Reichenau provides vegetables for the region, most of them from organic agriculture. You'll notice many greenhouses, too, which I think are not exactly 'green' in the...more
The founding act of the abbey on Reichenau is mostly in the dark. What we know for sure is that Bishop Pirmin was appointed Abbott of the Reichenau by Karl Martell around the year 724. Pirmin, originally from Meaux in France, traveled to Reichenau with some guys and established the abbey after a mix of columban (irish) and benedictine rules.Due to...more
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