The Monastic Island's Anniversary

1,300 Years Reichenau Island

Die Insel Reichenau im Bodensee lässt sich aus der Vogelperspektive gut überblicken.
Reichenau Island Celebrates its 1,300th Anniversary

BW Story - Hirsch & Greif

Reichenau Island Celebrates its 1,300th Anniversary

Great sacred art treasures, a lively sense of spirituality and vegetable growing have all contributed to the wealth of Reichenau Island. This year, the largest island in Lake Constance is putting on lots of events to celebrate the foundation of the first monastery 1,300 years ago.

It makes your heart swell: the Hochwart Viewpoint in the centre of the island is just 40 metres higher than the surrounding area. But everything is at your feet around you, including the three UNESCO World Heritage churches of the island of Reichenau, the vegetable fields and greenhouses, Lake Constance and, on a clear day, even the Swiss shore of the lake and the Alps. To the east, you can see Konstanz and the Wollmatinger Ried Nature Reserve, and to the west, the Höri Peninsula rises out of the lake.

An Almost Mediterranean Island with Spiritual Depth

An Almost Mediterranean Island with Spiritual Depth

Der Hochwart ist der höchste Punkt der Insel Reichenau am Bodensee.
Hochwart Viewpoint is the highest point on Reichenau Island at Lake Constance. | © TMBW, Foto: Frank Bauer
Gästeführer Uwe Anker genießt den Bodenseeblick vom Aussichtspunkt Hochwart auf der Insel Reichenau.
Tour guide Uwe Anker enjoys the view of Lake Constance from the Hochwart Viewpoint on Reichenau Island. | © TMBW, Foto: Frank Bauer

On the Hochwart Viewpoint, there is also a building that was originally built as a tea house and is now home to a gallery. It boasts art, ceramics, and coffee, not to mention some lovely shady spots in the garden. The island offers both an almost Mediterranean lightness and real spiritual and cultural depth. The Reichenau Monastic Island has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. And this year, they are celebrating the fact that St Pirmin founded the first Benedictine monastery on German soil on Reichenau Island in 724. His successors would become powerful churchmen, with some even holding the positions of Archchancellor of the Empire and Archbishop of Mainz at the same time.

The Great Church Treasures of Reichenau Island</span><span>&nbsp;

The Great Church Treasures of Reichenau Island 

Vom inselweiten Bewässerungssystem auf der Bodenseeinsel Reichenau profitieren auch die Gemüsebaubetriebe rund um die Kirche St. Georg.
The vegetable farms around St George's Church benefit from the island-wide irrigation system on Reichenau Island. | © TMBW, Foto: Frank Bauer
Die älteste Kirche der Insel ist die ehemalige Klosterkirche St. Maria und Markus. Sie wurde 724 gegründet.
The oldest church on the island is the former monastery church of St Mary and St Mark, founded in 724. | © TMBW, Foto: Frank Bauer
St. Peter und Paul Kirche auf der Insel Reichenau am Bodensee | © TMBW, Raatz
St Peter and Paul Church from the inside | © TMBW, Foto: Oliver Raatz

The monks built three impressive churches on Reichenau Island, dedicated to St Mary and St Mark in Mittelzell, St Peter and St Paul in Niederzell and St George in Oberzell. Each of them is home to unique cultural treasures such as the Relic of the Holy Blood in the Minster of St Mary and St Mark, the 11th-century apse painting in the Church of St Peter and St Paul and the even older giant cycle of paintings depicting scenes from the life of Christ in the Church of St George. It is a real pleasure to learn about the island's monastic history, and the fact that it now has a modest future, from a warm and capable guide like Uwe Anker. Three Benedictine monks and two nuns have arrived at Reichenau Island. They live in the small St Benedict's Cella and are reviving the old traditions of church services and the liturgy of the hours.

Reichenau Island, a Holiday Paradise

Reichenau Island, a Holiday Paradise

Der Reichenauer Damm verbindet die Insel Reichenau im Bodensee mit dem Festland.
The Reichenau Dam connects Reichenau Island with the mainland. | © TMBW, Foto: Frank Bauer
Mediterrane Atmosphäre: Die romanische Kirche St. Georg in Oberzell mit den berühmten ottonischen Wandmalereien ist von ausgedehnten Gemüsefeldern umgeben.
Mediterranean atmosphere: The Romanesque church of St George in Oberzell, with its famous Ottonian murals, is surrounded by extensive vegetable fields. | © Steidel

A poplar-lined street, effectively a dam, has connected the island to the mainland for 180 years now. Of course, you can also travel to the island in one of the boats operated by the Lake Constance shipping company. The island in the western part of Lake Constance welcomes up to one million day-trippers every year, with many of them not only visiting the three churches but also enjoying a bike ride around the sunny vegetable fields or a walk along the shore path. The area around the island also offers perfect conditions for canoeing and stand-up paddleboarding. The Baurenhorn Beach Resort is also ideal for cooling down on a summer's day, with a large sunbathing lawn and water play area.

A Visit to 'Strabo's HErb Garden'

A Visit to 'Strabo's HErb Garden'

Kloster Reichenau mit angrenzendem Kräutergarten.
St Mary and St Mark's Minster with the adjoining herb garden | © Tricky Tine

If you book one of the guided tours on offer, you may end up with Uwe Anker as your guide. He does not just show visitors to Reichenau the architecture of the three famous churches. The devout Catholic and nature lover also likes to take them for a walk through ‘Strabo’s Herb Garden’, which was originally planted around 840 by an abbot called Walahfrid Strabo. The area is almost an archetypal monastery herb garden. In his poem entitled ‘Hortulus’, the abbot explains the effects of the medicinal plants. Today, it is considered the very first book on gardening, and effectively has its roots here on Reichenau Island. The present herb garden between the minster and the shores of Lake Constance has been replanted based on the original and is open to all.

Looking Forward to the Anniversary

Looking Forward to the Anniversary

Gästeführer Uwe Anker setzt sich dafür ein, dass der Glaube auf der Insel Reichenau lebendig bleibt, z.B. bei Führungen durch das Münster St. Maria und Markus in Mittelzell.
Tour guide Uwe Anker is committed to keeping faith alive on Reichenau Island, e.g. on guided tours of St Mary and St Mark's Minster in Mittelzell. | © TMBW, Foto: Frank Bauer

Uwe Anker grew up on Reichenau and cannot imagine living anywhere else. As a member of the parish council, a chorister and head of the education institute, he is committed to keeping the faith alive. "We have three religious holidays that are celebrated on the island," he explains. And, of course, he is very much looking forward to the upcoming jubilee celebrations, some of which have been organised by the islanders themselves. "It's going to be a really special, really eventful year. Here on Reichenau Island, we really know how to celebrate. And I think it's great if we can show our visitors from all over the world that faith is very much alive here."

Jubilee Year Events &amp; More

Overview

Jubilee Year Events & More

20 April - 20 Oktober 2024
State Exhibition ‘World Heritage from the Middle Ages – Reichenau, 1,300 Years a Monastic Island’

The state exhibition showcases precious, rarely exhibited pieces from the island's medieval history in the State Archaeological Museum of Baden-Württemberg in Konstanz and on Reichenau Island. These include amazing manuscripts from the Reichenau scriptorium, which will then be displayed in Konstanz.

28 - 30 June 2024
‘An Island of Music’ Festival

Reichenau Island's music clubs, groups, bands and choirs will be performing at the Königsegg Palace Gardens. The open-air event will have a relaxed concert atmosphere and refreshments will be available in the palace gardens.

14 September 2024
Monastery Market

The newly designed monastery gardens boast a cosy monastery market with all sorts of culinary treats from Reichenau Island. Good food, drinks and music are on the agenda. At the same time, the Senior Citizens’ Centre opens its doors and treating visitors to a cup of coffee and a delicious slice of cake.

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Western Lake Constance

Insel Reichenau Luftbild 202A0799 Foto Achim Mende

The Monastic Island of Reichenau

Only 3 miles/5 km long, this tiny island of Lake Constance is notable for its Benedictine Monastery.
Panoramasicht über den Bodensee mit Weinbergen und Häusern.

Region

Lake Constance

Church Reichenau

St. Peter and Paul Church

Church Reichenau

St. George Church

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Holidays on Reichenau Island

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1,300 Years Reichenau Island

Church Reichenau

St. Maria and Markus Minster