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Konstanz (or some people may be more familiar with the name Constance) is a smallish university town of around 79,000 people on the shore of Bodensee (Lake Constance) in the south west corner of Germany that borders Switzerland.

Konstanz is situated on the River Rhein (Rhine) which starts in the Swiss Alps and runs through the Lake Constance, splitting the city in two. North of the river lies the larger part with residential areas and industrial estates; while south of the river is the old town, which houses the administrative centre and shopping facilities. The old town is bounded from the south by the border to Switzerland.

Konstanz was the place were the Council of Constance (1414-1418) took place, and where Jan Hus was burned at the stake (1415). It was also the birthplace of Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, constructor of the famous Zeppelin airships.

Things to see: Although it is popular as a tourist destination, mostly with other Germans, the pace of life in Konstanz is somewhat akin to cycling through fudge. If you're looking for a wild time, go to Munich. If you want to spend some time relaxing in some amazingly beautiful scenery then this is the place to be. The lake is surrounded by high rolling hills covered with green forests, meadows and sometimes vineyards. The view of the lake from one of the small villages in these hills is fantastic, and made breathtaking by the usual early summer morning mist.

You should be able to cover most of the sights and attractions in around a week, but save some time for excursions to nearby places like Reichenau Island, Mainau Island, Meersburg, Schaffhausen or Sankt Gallen. The touristic sights in Konstanz are mostly buildings and monuments of historical interest. Konstanz was the home of Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin. There is a monument to him in the park by the harbour, and his former home is now an upperclass hotel and restaurant. Another more recent monument at the harbour shows a woman holding two man on her arms. It is called Imperia and represents a famous courtisane who lived in Konstanz during the time of the Council of Constance, and the two men in her hands represent a bishop and a king as representatives for the two powers of the middle ages.

Most of the interesting buildings are in the "Altstadt", which is relatively big, considering the small size of nowadays Konstanz. As a typical medieval city it is a little twisty and disorienting. There is a majestic Minster (cathedral), a couple of churches and some towers, one of which marks the place of the former medieval bridge over the Rhine. The most romantic and scenic part of the city lies between the Minster and the Rhine and is called Niederburg (Lower Castle). The buildings here are the oldest and the streets are the narrowest. The area around the Marktstaette (market square) is the more lively part of the Altstadt.

Outside the Altstadt, take a bus to Bismarcksteig and walk up the hill to Bismarcksturm (the tower at the top of the hill that can be seen from most of the town). This spot is favoured by romantic types and/or drunk people as a place to sit and watch the sun set, with a nice view over the wineyards down to the lake and town.

Beyond this tower, further north, lies the university, also accessible by bus. This sprawling establishment is some kind of weird architectural acid trip of a building. The library itself is worth seeing (if you can get in) just for the fun of trying to get out again. Colditz escapees had it easy in comparison. It is actually the largest walk-in-library in Germany. The university has approximately 7000 students and was founded in 1966. It is situated on top of a hill, between forest and meadows, overlooking the lake. There is a ten-minute walk to the halls of residence down which you can expect to have any attempt at conversation drowned out by the constant croaking of thousands of frogs desperate for a shag, but only in the early summer mating season.

Towns and cities next to Konstanz:


Switzerland: Austria: Islands next to Konstanz:

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