Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Things to do in Lindau (Bodensee)

Altes Rathaus -- The Old Town Hall is the finest of Lindau's handsome historic buildings. It was constructed between 1422 and 1436 in the midst of a vineyard and given a Renaissance face-lift 150 years later, though the original stepped gables remain. Emperor Maximilian I held an imperial diet here in 1496; a fresco on the south facade depicts the scene. The building houses offices and cannot be visited.

 Altstadt -- The old town is a maze of ancient streets with half-timber and gable houses making up for most of the island. The center is main street, pedestrian-only Maximilianstrasse.

Barfüsserkirche -- This church, built from 1241 to 1270, is now Lindau's principal theater, and the Gothic choir is a memorable setting for concerts.

Bavarian Lion -- A proud symbol of Bavaria, Der Bayerische Löwe (the Bavarian Lion) is Lindau's most striking landmark. Carved from Bavarian marble and standing 20 feet high, the lion stares out across the lake from a massive plinth.

Haus zum Cavazzen -- Dating to 1728, this house belonged to a wealthy merchant and is now considered one of the most beautiful in the Bodensee region, owing to its rich decor of frescoes. Today it serves as a local history museum, with collections of glass and pewter items, paintings, and furniture from the past five centuries, alongside touring exhibitions of an international standard.

Mangenturm  -- This former lighthouse at the end of the former city walls dates to the 13th century, making it one of the lake's older lighthouses. Although the structure is indeed old, its vibrantly colored rooftop is not so—following a lightning strike in the 1970s, the roof tiles were replaced, giving the tower the bright top it now bears.

Marktplatz -- Lindau's market square is lined by a series of sturdy and attractive old buildings. The Gothic Stephanskirche (St. Stephen's Church) is simple and sparsely decorated, as befits a Lutheran place of worship. It dates to the late 12th century but went through numerous transformations. One of its special features is the green-hue stucco ornamentation on the ceiling, which immediately attracts the eye toward the heavens. In contrast, the Catholic Münster Unserer Lieben Frau (St. Mary's Church), which stands right next to the Stephanskirche, is exuberantly baroque.

Neuer Leuchtturm -- Germany's southernmost lighthouse stands sentinel with the Bavarian Lion across the inner harbor's passageway.

Peterskirche -- This solid 10th-century Romanesque building is reputedly the oldest church in the Bodensee region. On the inside of the northern wall, frescoes by Hans Holbein the Elder (1465-1524) depict scenes from the life of St. Peter, the patron saint of fishermen. Peterskirche houses a memorial to fallen German soldiers from World Wars I and II, and a memorial plaque for victims of Auschwitz. Attached to the church is the 16th-century bell foundry, now a pottery works. Also of note is the adjacent fairy-tale-like Diebsturm. Look closely and you might see Rapunzel's golden hair hanging from this 13th-century tower, awaiting a princely rescuer. Follow the old city wall behind the tower and church to the adjoining Unterer Schrannenplatz, where the bell-makers used to live. A 1989 fountain depicts five of the Narren (Fools) that make up the VIPs of Fastnacht, the annual Alemannic Carnival celebrations.

Schloss Montfort -- Another 8 km (5 mi) west of Wasserburg is the small, pretty town of Langenargen, famous for the region's most unusual castle, Schloss Montfort. Named for the original owners—the counts of Montfort-Werdenberg—this structure was a conventional medieval fortification until the 19th century, when it was rebuilt in pseudo-Moorish style by its new owner, King Wilhelm I of Württemberg. If you can, see it from a passenger ship on the lake; the castle is especially memorable in the early morning or late afternoon. The tower is open to visitors, and the castle houses a café-restaurant, which is open for dinner from Tuesday to Sunday, April through mid-October. The café is also open for Sunday brunch year-round.

Stadtgarten -- Ludwigstrasse and Fischergasse lead to a watchtower, once part of the original city walls with a little park behind it. If it's early evening, you'll see the first gamblers of the night making for the neighboring casino.

Wasserburg -- Six kilometers (4 mi) west of Lindau lies Wasserburg, whose name means "water castle," an exact description of what this enchanting island town once was—a fortress. It was built by the St. Gallen monastery in 924, and the owners, the counts of Montfort zu Tettnang, sold it to the Fugger family of Augsburg. The Fuggers couldn't afford to maintain the drawbridge that connected the castle with the shore and instead built a causeway. In the 18th century the castle passed into the hands of the Habsburgs, and in 1805 the Bavarian government took it over. Wasserburg has some of the most photographed sights of the Bodensee: the yellow, stair-gabled presbytery; the fishermen's St. Georg Kirche, with its onion dome; and the little Malhaus museum, with the castle, Schloss Wasserburg, in the background.

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