Constance — a medieval town set on Lake Constance and the river Rhine
Constance is well known for its medieval old town and its outstanding location by Lake Constance and the river Rhine right next to the Swiss border. With its 82,000 inhabitants, Constance is the largest city by the lake and home to about 17,000 students who study at the University of Constance and the University of Applied Sciences. The city offers a great range of ancient architecture, cultural events, places for shopping and recreation activities such as swimming, sailing and cycling tours around the lake.
Things to see and do
Constance was the bishop’s seat of a large diocese which spread among large parts of southern Germany and Switzerland for more than twelve centuries. The construction of Constance Minster started back in 600 AD. The church was built in Romanesque style and in the 14–16th centuries Gothic towers and chapels were added. The vault of the nave was decorated in Baroque style in 1679, and much of the interior dates to the 17–18th centuries. It was the main venue during the Council of Constance (1414–1418).
The Council House was built in 1388, and used to be a warehouse when Constance was an important trade centre. It played a major role during the Council of Constance as the place of the only papal election that took place north of the Alps. Today the Council Building is a place for concerts and festivals.
Imperia is a rotating statue made of concrete at the entrance of the harbour created by artist Peter Lenk. The erection of the 9-metre-high statue took place discreetly in 1993, due to its controversial cultural reference: the lightly clad lady is holding a miniature Pope Martin V and Emperor Sigismund in her hands.
The 600th anniversary of the Council of Constance is celebrated from 2014 to 2018 with a huge number of exhibitions, theatre plays, concerts, lectures, guided tours and street festivals. For more information regarding the recent events have a look at the website of the Council of Constance
Constance is an important centre of the Swabian-Alemannic Fastnacht (in local dialects: Fasnet). In contrast to the Rhineland carnival, the Constance Carnival is characterised by wooden masked witch groups and bears less political character. Therefore, the Fastnacht significantly differs from the Cologne carnival, which does not affect the atmosphere. When visiting Constance during the Carnival season (January-February), you will find a city in an exceptional state.
The “flowering island” Mainau which is owned by the family of the Swedish Prince Lennart Bernadotte is famous for its large varieties of plants in its parks and gardens. The most exciting places to see are the castle and the butterfly house where butterflies might take a seat on your shoulder. The island can be reached either by boat or overland by crossing a footbridge.
How to get there
Constance has no commerical airport, the closest airports are Zurich, Friedrichshafen, Stuttgart or Basel with train connections to the city.
British-German Town Twinnings
Town twinnings between British and German cities play an important role in promoting cultural exchange. Constance has been twinned with Lutterworth in Leicestershire since 2015.