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The biggest island on Lace Constance
The 4.3 km² large island of Reichenau, located in Lake Constance between Radolfzell and Constance, belongs to the southern Baden municipality of Reichenau (5100 inhabitants) in the district of Constance, which comprises island and mainland areas.
The island of Reichenau is just two kilometres away from the northern shore of Lake Constance's Untersee bulge. The 4.5 km long and 1.5 km wide Reichenau is not only the largest island in terms of landmass but also the most popular island in Lake Constance with around 3,300 inhabitants. The Reichenau islanders are distributed among the three village districts of Oberzell, Mittelzell and Niederzell.
A dam connect island and mainland
If you want to visit the island, you do not necessarily have to take a boat from the mainland. Since 1838, the approximately 20 m wide Reichenau island dam, lined with rows of poplars and now with a road, footpath and cycle path, has connected the mainland with the island. The dam is interrupted by the Bruckgraben, about seven metres wide and crossed by a bridge, which is mainly used as a passage for small boats. To the left and right of the dam, the Wollmatinger Ried runs along. With an extension of about 750 ha, the reed is the largest nature reserve on the German side of Lake Constance.
Agriculture and tourism
The main sources of income on the island, which has a particularly favourable climate, are vegetable cultivation and tourism. The Reichenau vegetable farmers grow tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce in qualities coveted by gourmets on more than 120 hectares of open-air and greenhouse land. Twenty professional fishermen, who mainly catch whitefish, pike and trout in Lake Constance, are based on the Reichenau. In addition, grapes for palatable red and white wines are harvested on 20 hectares of land in Germany's southernmost wine-growing region.
On the Reichenau, on which a constant fresh-fine herb smell lies, about 220,000 overnight stays of tourists are counted annually. In addition, the Reichenau is a valued destination for many day tourists. Besides the charming location, the culinary and gastronomic offers, the friendly Reichenauers, the protected nature that can be experienced on hiking trails and the spectacular view of Lake Constance, Constance and its surroundings from the 45-metre high Hochwart vantage point, the culture and history of the island also attracts many visitors.
Culture and history of the monastery island
Almost 1300 years ago, Saint Pirmin, a wandering monk living the rules of the Benedictine order, founded a monastery on the island together with forty other monks. The pious men cleared the island and cultivated it. The monastery became one of the most important religious, cultural and, because of the supra-regional influence of many of their abbots, also political centres of the early Middle Ages. The monastery was dissolved in 1757. The monastery building now serves as the town hall for the municipality of Reichenau.
The originally modest monastery church, the St. Markus and Maria Cathedral, was expanded into a mighty abbey church until the High Middle Ages. The nicely maintained herb garden of the monastery near the monastery church, the "Kräutergärtlein", was the subject of the first horticultural writing ("Hortulus") written by Abbot Walahfrid in Germany in the 9th century.
Just as impressive as the cathedral are the churches of St. George and St. Peter and Paul, built in Romanesque times, on the monastery island of Reichenau. These churches, their history and their invaluable relics, writings and paintings were essential reasons to include the island in the renowned UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List as the monastery island of Reichenau.
The particularities of Reichenau
If you would like to learn more about the history of the monastery island Reichenau, a visit to the Museum Reichenau is recommended. The three collections of the highly interesting museum are spread over three locations.
Other special features of the island, which may have to be taken into account when planning your visit, are its three island holidays, which are associated with festive processions and are free of work and school. On April 25th the Feast of St Mark is celebrated. The Holy Blood Festival follows on Monday after Whitsun and the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary on August 15th. An important part of Reichenau's culture is the island's militia, which has existed for almost 900 years.
Reichenau offers numerous opportunities for sporting activities. In addition to hiking and cycling, water sports and bathing fun are naturally particularly important. In the lido you can doze off and splash around; sailing school, diving school, boat rental and marina invite you to a maritime exploration of the lake.
Holiday on the island of Reichenau
Stay overnight on Reichenau island - numerous accommodations are at your disposal.