The island of Mainau at Lake Constance in the foothills of the Alps
Mainau in Germany is famous for its many flowers, plants and trees from all over the world. They have been bred here since the middle of the 19th century. The island has a large butterfly garden.
The island of flowers Mainau is located in the very south of Germany. It is located in the northwestern water area of Lake Constance. The body of water is also known as the Swabian Sea.
On 45 hectares of land are placed monuments, landscape parks and greenhouses, recreation and entertainment facilities. The attraction is open to visitors every year, from dawn to dusk. High season: from late March to November. Millions of tourists come here every year.
History of Mainau
At the time of the Roman Empire, the island of Mainau was part of its domain. As early as the beginning of our era, a military port with a fortress was built here.
From the 9th century the area belonged to the community of Reichenau. From the 13th to the 19th century, the Crusader Knights settled here.
Further owners of this place were members of the aristocracy.
In 1853 Meinau was given the status of the residence of Frederick I, Duke. Under him were planted first exotic trees and plants.
In 1932 the land was given to the Bernadotte family. Since that date it became a tourist attraction.
Curious fact! The island is part of the German city of Constance. In fact it belongs to the Swedish family.
Flora and fauna of the island
The name itself gives you an idea of what attractions are dominant here.
An island of flowers
The tourist season begins in March with an exhibition of orchids. Thousands of specimens bloom in the tropical pavilion of the Palmenhaus. Soon the primroses appear, both wild and in the flowerbeds.
In April, tulips, daffodils, primroses, hyacinths, and crocuses bloom on Mainau. Rhododendrons, peonies, and camellias follow in May.
In summer, roses bloom. The number of their varieties is more than a thousand, bushes – more than 10 thousand. In the Italian garden for the roses is set aside a special rose garden. Its age is almost 150 years. It was founded by Frederick I. The structure is decorated with arbors, fountains and sculptures. Also rose bushes are scattered around the island perimeter.
In the fall, colorful dahlias will delight the eyes of visitors. They predominantly occupy the southern coast. The last to bloom are the chrysanthemums.
Arboretum is a must visit place. It grows hundreds of species: conifers and deciduous, strange and familiar to the European eye. Many of them are over 150 years old. Among them: Japanese Sophora, oaks and cedars.
Interesting! One of the oldest trees, linden Victoria, was planted by Frederick I in honor of the birth of his daughter in 1862.
About a hundred varieties of colorful insects from around the world live here. Specimens from Asia, Africa and America are collected in one glass enclosure. They maintain an artificial tropical climate with temperatures up to +30 degrees and humidity up to 90%.
Mini Zoo .
There are no wild animals here. But there is a contact zoo with pets. Here you can pet donkeys, sheep, goats, rabbits, etc.
It was laid out back in the times of the Knights. Now there are many varieties of spicy herbs.
Attractions of the island
- Baroque castle. The largest building is a three-storey palace. The style is baroque. It was erected in 1732. Today in the castle lives the head of the family-owners. In the castle are constantly performances, vernissages, tastings, various celebrations.
- Palace Church of the Virgin Mary. The age of the building is the same as that of the residence of Bernadotte. It is snow-white, decorated with paintings, sculptures, bas-reliefs, frescoes. Religious services and ceremonies are held in the functioning temple. There are also regularly arranged exhibitions and concerts.
- Garden Tower (Gärtnerturm). This is a monument of construction during the Crusader period. Now there is a tourist information center.
- Tower of Komture (Der Comturey-Turm). Building from the times of the Teutonic Order. Today it serves as a restaurant and organized storage areas.
- The Swedish Tower (Schwedenturm). It dates back to the XVI century, but its ancient appearance is not preserved. The building was reconstructed.
Other interesting places and entertainment
A number of sights in the south of Germany are sure to arouse a desire to see it for yourself. There are hundreds of flowerbeds, built dozens of fountains, gazebos and sculptures, organized alleys and walking paths.
From the Mediterranean terrace offers a view of the Alps.
The Italian Steps impresses tourists. It is a fountain cascade with steps, flowerbeds, surrounded by conifers.
All year round there are several restaurants and cafes. Everywhere the cuisine is predominantly Swedish.
Families with children have the opportunity to relax on the Wasserwelt, a playground with water rides.
Themed events and activities are often held here. Among the highlights are:
- Open-air music festival in July;
- Open-Air Film Festival in August;
- a festival with a fair in the palace in October.
Monthly exhibitions, concerts, tastings, etc. are organized.
How to get to the island
There are a number of ways to get to Lake Constance, or to be more precise, to the nearby town of Constance. Car owners can drive into the territory and use the local parking lot. From March to October it is paid – 5 EUR.
- By train. From Stuttgart ticket costs from 19 EUR. The trip will take about 3 hours. The train from Karlsklohe goes more than 3 hours. Fare is much higher.
- By bus. There are more options to get to Constance this way. Transport goes here from Freiburg, Stuttgart, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, etc. You can use the services of FlixBus, DeinBus, MeinFernBus. Fare will depend on distance and fares of the carrier. From the same Stuttgart, by comparison, the bus goes the same distance as the train. The ticket will cost a little cheaper. From the station in Constance to the pedestrian-car bridge at Mainau there is a route number 4.
- Ferry. You can come here by sightseeing boat or steamboat. Regularly runs a ferry from many cities along the Swabian Sea.
The cost of visiting the island
The cost of an adult ticket in summertime is almost 20 EUR, in wintertime – half as much.
Children and students are admitted for half price.
Family visits are about 40 EUR.
Worth considering! There is an internal bus that goes through the territory, but only in summer. The fare is 1.5 EUR.
Mainau, the kingdom of flowers
In Baden-Württemberg, near Constance, is one of the most romantic places in Germany, as if it had been depicted in a Grimm fairy tale. It is the island of Mainau on Lake Constance. But anyone who has ever been here, will always call Maynau by its middle name – the Island of Flowers. It is small – only 1.1 x 0.6 km – but it is here that one of the most beautiful botanical gardens in the world is located.
History of Mainau
The shores of Lake Constance have been inhabited since ancient times. Radiocarbon dating of the remains of pile dwellings found in the shallow waters off the shores of Mainau, established their age – about 5 thousand years.
At the end of the 1st century B.C. the land around Lake Constance became part of the Roman Empire. A historian’s account of the arrangement of a Roman fort with a pier on a small island of Lake Constance survives. According to a number of indications, this was Mainau.
In 724, King Theodoric IV of the Franks gave Mainau to the Benedictine monastery of Reichenau. The abbey, in turn, loaned the island to various individuals who rendered services to the abbey.
In 1271 one of these users, Arnold von Langenstein, gave the island to the Teutonic Order. At the same time a castle was built, the towers of which have survived to this day.
Castle fortifications were constantly improved. By the 17th century, the island was completely surrounded by a double wall. However, the bastions were not always saved. In 1546 the island was captured by the Austrians, and in 1647 – the Swedes. Leaving the island, the conquerors took out all the valuable property. According to legend, the Swedes could not take out only the crucifix, which suddenly became so heavy that they could not lift it. Now the crucifix, called “Swedish Cross”, installed at the bridge connecting Mainau to the mainland.
In the XVIII century the island was extensive construction. The castle was demolished, and in its place grew Baroque palace. In 1732-1739, the ancient Church of the Virgin Mary acquired Baroque appearance. The works were directed by Johann Caspar Bagnato, who was later buried in the church he built.
In 1809, Napoleon abolished the Teutonic Order, and Mainau was transferred to the Grand Duchy of Baden.
The beginning of the new history of the island can be considered the year 1827, when it was bought by the Hungarian prince Esterhazy. He is the creator of the first landscape park in Mainau. After changing several owners, the island went to the Duke Friedrich I of Baden, who established his summer residence here.
In the main features of its present appearance the island acquired exactly under Frederick. The park was redesigned, gardens were laid out, alleys were laid out, the arboretum was created. Thanks to the mild climate of Lake Constance, many Mediterranean and even tropical plants acclimatized to the Mainau. The duke was very proud of his brainchild and allowed visitors to the island.
In 1928 Mainau became a part of the Swedish royal house. In 1932, the management of the island was transferred to Lennart Bernadotte, nephew of Gustav V. In 1951, Lennart purchased Mainau in full ownership.
Bernadotte went to great lengths to make Mainau the main attraction of Lake Constance. Infrastructure was improved, restaurants and cafes were built, and themed tours began to be offered. Bernadotte was personally involved in the design of the park, the selection and acclimatization of plants and managed to turn the island into a blooming garden.
Nowadays Mainau belongs to the Lennart Bernadotte Foundation, headed by his son Björn Wilhelm.
An island of flowers
The island of flowers – that is how this pearl of Lake Constance is called today with good reason. Flowers are the main attraction and asset of Mainau.
Flowers are planted so that almost the whole year, except for the coldest months, you can observe a real riot of colors, a carpet of flowers, which in each season looks different. In spring it is a realm of tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, crocuses. Flowerbeds are made up of both flowers of different species and different shades of the same species. The variety of colors and shades of tulips, from white to almost black, is astonishing. There are about 400 varieties.
Spring is the time of orchids. The Mainau has the richest collection of orchids in Europe – there are about 1200 varieties. Some orchids are on display in the Palm Orangery, but many grow right in the garden – in beds and on trees.
In summer, roses reign almost undividedly here – there are more than 30 thousand bushes of five hundred varieties on the island. The heart of the kingdom of roses is the Italian garden. Here are built gazebos, beat fountains, installed a variety of sculptures.
On the Mainau you can see not only the usual sculptures, but also flower sculptures. Huge gnome, bunny, peacock and others are made with extraordinary skill. Rhododendrons, peonies, camellias worthily accompany the roses – more than 350 thousand flowers create a dizzying kaleidoscope in summer.
Dahlia are the king of autumn. Mainau is Europe’s largest breeder of these flowers. At the traditional October Dahlia Queen Festival, more than 200 varieties of these wonderful flowers in a variety of shapes and shades are on display.
In addition to flowers, the island’s garden features trees from all over the world, from northern cedars to southern sequoias, sycamores, and even palms. As well as pines, beeches, catalpa trees, mammoth trees, and many others.
Mainau is known for its rich citrus collection. It began collecting it as far back as Frederick I. On the island you can see Victoria Lime, a tree that he planted in honor of the birth of his daughter in 1862.
Another attraction of Flower Island is the Renaissance Italian Steps, framed by beds of flowers of all kinds. Depending on the season, the flowers seem to pass the baton to one another – and the staircase magically changes from month to month.
Of course, you can not miss the House of Butterflies. The pavilion, built in the shape of a butterfly, creates a tropical climate – high temperature and humidity. There is a stream and even a small waterfall. Among the many tropical flowers and plants beside the visitors fluttering thousands of winged beauties of all shapes, sizes and colors. They are not afraid of people, so here you can easily take a picture with a butterfly on his shoulder.
In the center of the island is a magnificent three-story castle, decorated with magnificent coats of arms of a knight, sparkling with gilt. This is the residence of the Counts of Bernadotte. The castle is permanently inhabited by the head of the family and also hosts official events, classical music concerts and exhibitions.
On the shore of the Mainau, which faces the lake, stands the snow-white church of the Virgin Mary, built at the same time as the palace. The interior of the church is very elegant – there are traditional Baroque sculptures, paintings and frescoes. It is a working temple, so sermons are preached here, prayers and weddings are held. In addition, every spring, florists’ exhibitions are held in the church, when the old walls seem to grow young from the neighborhood of colorful floral compositions.
Keepers of the memory of the island’s ancient history are three ancient towers. The Gardener’s Tower is all that remains of the original castle. The Komtura Tower, standing on the shore, once overlooked the lake. In its basement is an ancient wine cellar. The Swedish tower was built by the Swedes during their short stay in Mainau.
As you can see, the island has everything for an interesting and romantic vacation. And because there is also a zoo, vineyard, arena, where you can ride a horse. Regularly held flower festivals, national costume days, wine tastings. It is therefore no wonder that Mainau welcomes more than a million tourists a year.