Lake Constance Attractions Bodensee
Lake Constance, (in German the Bodensee), lying below the northern edge of the Alps, with its shoreline shared between Switzerland, Germany and Austria, is by far the largest lake in Germany, the third largest lake in Central Europe (after Lake Balaton and Lake Geneva) and the second largest of the lakes bordering the Alps. From southeast to northwest it is divided into the Obersee, extending from Bregenz Bay to Eichhorn (Constance), and the much narrower, shorter and shallower Überlinger See, between the Bodanrück and Linzgau, and Untersee.The Untersee is separated from the main lake by a strip of land which is traversed by the Rhine at Konstanz. At its northern end it splits into the Gnadensee, between the island of Reichenau and the Bodanrück, and the Zeller See, between the Höri and Mettnau peninsulas in Radolfzell Bay.The whole of the southern shore of the lake is in Switzerland, much the greater part of it (running southeast to beyond Arbon) belonging to the canton of Thurgau and the rest (from the vicinity of Rorschach to the Old Rhine) to St Gallen.Evidence of the ancient fauna of the region has been found in the form of animals' bones (mammoths, bison, reindeer, deer, wild horses, bears, etc.), and, in caves in the Thayngen area (canton of Schaffhausen), particularly in the Kesslerloch, works of art dating from the Late Palaeolithic period (ca. 10,000 B.C.) - engravings on reindeer antlers, figures of wild horses, a carving of a musk-ox's head, etc. Many traces of human settlement in the Mesolithic period (ca. 8000-5000 B.C.) have been identified around the lake; and occupation during the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age (ca. 3000-2000 B.C.) attested by the pile-dwellings - huts occupied by hunters, fishermen and farmers - found, for example, at Ermatingen on the Untersee and between Botighofen and Seedorf on the Obersee. Remains of these houses, built on piles to provide protection from flooding, can be seen at low tide a short distance from the shore of the lake. Since the water level was 2-3 m/7-10ft lower at the time the houses were built they would originally have been on dry land. There are also remains of whole villages of pile-dwellings dating from the Early Iron Age (ca. 800 B.C.).The land around Lake Constance was originally Celtic territory, into which the Romans penetrated in the first century B.C. Among Roman foundations on the Swiss shore of the lake was "Arbor Felix" (Arbon). In the third C. A.D. the Alemanni, a Germanic tribe from the north, thrust into the western Lake Constance area. The region was Christianized by Iro-Scottish monks including Columban and his disciple Gallus, who preached here about the year 610, and the eighth C. saw the foundation of the abbey of St Gallen, which developed into a major cultural hub whose influence extended far beyond the region. In the Appenzell war (1403-08) the confederation of towns on Lake Constance supported the Abbot of St Gallen against the mountain peasants, who suffered a defeat at Bregenz in 1408.Constance, a member of the Swabian League, lost all rights of sovereignty in the Thurgau under the Treaty of Basle at the end of the Swabian war (1498-99).
Facts & Figures
Constance (lighthouse) lat. 47°39' north, long. 9°10' east; Bregenz (lighthouse) lat. 47°30' north, long. 9°44' east.Mean water level: 395 m/1,296ft (with fluctuations, so far unexplained, unconnected with seasons or weather conditions). This change of water level, which occurs at regular intervals in calm weather, resembles the ebb and flow of the sea, yet occurs 26-38 times in 24 hours and varies only a few centimeters.Although the borders between the countries neighboring Lake Constance are not distinct, the respective areas are approximately as follows: Germany 55%, Switzerland 34% and Austria 11%. Total area: 545 sq. km/210 sq. mi (Obersee and Überlinger See together 480km/185 sq. mi, Untersee 65 sq. km/25 sq. mi).Greatest length: between Bregenz and Stein am Rhein 76km/47mi (as the crow flies 69km/43mi).Between Bregenz and the mouth of the Stockacher Aach 63km/39mi; longest direct line over water, from Hard to near the mouth of the Aach, 60km/37mi. Between Bregenz and Constance 46km/28mi. Greatest width: between Kressbronn and Rohrschach 14.8km/9mi. Greatest depth: in the Obersee (between Fischbach and Uttwil) 252 m/827ft, in the Überlinger See 147 m/482ft, in the Untersee 46 m/151ft (Zeller See 26 m/85ft, Gnadensee 22 m/72ft). New depth measuring works are in progress. Circumference at half-tide level: total 263km/163mi, of which 168km/104mi (64%) are in Germany, 69km/43mi (26%) in Switzerland and 26km/16mi (10%) in Austria.Average volume of water: total 48,430million cu. m/1,710,163million cu. ft, Obersee and Überlinger See together 47,600million cu. m/1,680,756million cu. ft, Untersee 830million cu. m/29,307million cu. ft. Mean high water (end June/beginning July) 440 cm/173.2 inches (highest recorded, beginning September 1817, 623 cm/245.3 inches). Mean low water (end February) 280 cm/110.2 inches (lowest recorded this century, end March 1972, 237 cm/93.3 inches). Visibility from surface: annual average 7.50 m/25ft (in January down to 12 m/39ft).
Excursions by the SBB ships of the "White Fleet", for example on the flagship "St Gallen", the motorship "M/S Thurgau", Zürich or "Säntis", to places on Lake Constance. Special attractions: In the high season on Tuesdays from Romanshorn whole day Folklore cruise on the "Schwäbischen Meer"; Trips on the car ferry Romanshorn-Friedrichshafen; Fondue (Sundays), Advent, and New Year trips.