Reichenau (island)

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Location of Reichenau
Location of Reichenau
Waters Untersee , Lake Constance
Geographical location 47 ° 41 '35 "  N , 9 ° 3' 47"  E Coordinates: 47 ° 41 '35 "  N , 9 ° 3' 47"  E
Reichenau (island) (Baden-Württemberg)
Reichenau (island)
length 4.5 km
width 1.6 km
surface 4.3 km²
Highest elevation The Hochwart
438.7  m above sea level. NN
Residents 3203 (2008)
745 inhabitants / km²
main place Mittelzell
Reichenau monastery island
UNESCO world heritage UNESCO World Heritage Emblem
National territory: GermanyGermany Germany
Type: Culture
Criteria : (iii) (iv) (vi)
Reference No .: 974
UNESCO region : Europe and North America
History of enrollment
Enrollment: 2000  (session 24)
Satellite image of the Lake Constance basin. The Seerhein can be seen between the larger Obersee and the smaller Untersee.
The island of Reichenau in the Untersee, looking east
Western part of the island, in the background the Mettnau peninsula and the small love island in front of it
Eastern part of the island, in the background with the Reichenauer Damm and behind it the nature reserve Triboldingerbohl

The Reichenau (Alemannic: Riichenau) is an inhabited island in the district of Konstanz in Baden-Württemberg and the largest island in Lake Constance . The Reichenau Monastery has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2000 . According to UNESCO in its justification, the island is an outstanding testimony to the religious and cultural role of a large Benedictine monastery in the Middle Ages.


The island of Reichenau was already built on and settled by the Romans. This is how the Benedictine monk Walahfrid Strabo describes in his book 7: " In this lake (Lake Constance) there is an island that Tiberius could use as a castle on the occasion of the procession against the Vindelicians during the battles by ship ."

The land belonged to foundations or the prince-bishop until the 1830s. They were given as fiefs to vine people or farmers. The feudal system was dissolved in the 1830s. The land could be bought by the former tenants.

After the end of World War II, around two thirds of the island's residents were evacuated for two and a half months in the summer of 1945. Around 3,000 French concentration camp prisoners from the Dachau concentration camp spent their quarantine there before returning home.

In June / July 1999, the access via the dam to the island was blocked for several weeks due to the “Whitsun floods” of Lake Constance and had to be supplied by Bundeswehr trucks.


The island is part of the municipality of Reichenau and the cultural and administrative center of the municipality. The administrative center and the largest village since it was founded is Mittelzell. In addition to the island, the municipality of Reichenau also includes mainland areas.

It is located in the western part of Lake Constance, the Untersee , between Konstanz and Radolfzell . It is connected to the mainland via the Reichenauer Damm, which was raised in 1838. The highest point on the island (Hochwart, formerly Friedrichshöhe) is 438.7 meters and rises approximately 43 meters above the lake level.

The island is 4.5 kilometers long and 1.5 kilometers wide and has a total area of ​​4.3 square kilometers. The circumference is 11.0 kilometers. These details refer to the island area that lies west of the Bruckgraben. In terms of area, the island is by far the largest in the entire Lake Constance and is more than six times the size of the second island of Lindau . In the late 1980s, Reichenau overtook Lindau as the largest island in terms of population.

The current population of the island of Reichenau is estimated at 3200 to 3300. The last exact population from the official statistics comes from the 1961 census. The districts from southeast to northwest:

No. Village Population
VZ 1961
VZ 1885
1 Oberzell 511 418 292
2 Mittelzell 2454 1737 1082
3 Niederzell 238 198 149
Reichenau Island 3203 2353 1523

The three villages are scattered settlements without a very pronounced town center. A list from the census of December 1, 1885 lists the actual villages as well as 18 hamlets , houses and groups of houses, which were nevertheless assigned to the individual villages:

Former districts of the island of Reichenau
Map from 1893
Oberzell Mittelzell Niederzell
District Bev. District Bev. District Bev.
Oberzell (village) 159 Mittelzell (village) 1 633 Unter- or Niederzell (village) 105
Rheinstrasse (houses) 123 Auenstade (Stadigasse) (hamlet) 67 Bürgle (house) 5
Schopflen (house) 2 4th Bradlen (hamlet) 43 Genslehorn (hamlet) 28
Fährhaus (house) 6th Buchhorn (hamlet) 104 Steinerner Weg (houses) 11
Plumbing (houses) 8th
Rheinstrasse (houses) 199
Sigelinshof or Rohrschachen (hamlet) 28
Oberzell as a whole 292 Central cell total 1082 Unterzell as a whole 149

1 with the districts Allenwinds, Häflinshof, Kellerwies, Münster, Rasthof and Rauhof
2 The Schopflen ruins are already beyond the Bruckgraben on Reichenauer Damm, but are counted as part of the Oberzell district.

Already in the following index of the census of 1905 these place names no longer appear, only the names of the three villages Oberzell, Mittelzell and Unterzell. Nine of the 18 previously mentioned districts continue to live, mostly slightly changed, than street names : Untere Rheinstraße , Fährhorn , Häfelishofstraße , Im Rasthof , Rauhofweg , Stedigasse , Bradlengasse , Obere Rheinstraße , and Im Genslehorn .


Due to the temperature-equalizing effect of Lake Constance, the positive effects of the alpine foehn and the resulting high number of sunny days, the climate on Reichenau is particularly mild. Vegetable growing with up to three outdoor harvests per year benefits primarily from this. About 160 hectares of the island are used for agriculture, more than 25% of the cultivated area is in greenhouses. Tomatoes from the island of Reichenau , salads from the island of Reichenau , lamb's lettuce from the island of Reichenau and cucumbers from the island of Reichenau are geographical indications protected by the EU . The Reichenau winegrowers' association operates the southernmost wine-growing area in Germany on the island .

In addition, tourism, with over 200,000 overnight stays and many day tourists, is the island's main source of income in addition to growing vegetables.

The EnBW operates in and around the castle Windegg (local Bürgle called), which is in the private ownership, a holiday resort for employees.


The island is made up of moraine rubble and alluvial gravel that was deposited at the end of the last Ice Age ( Würm ). It is part of a moraine that extends from the heaped dam in the east to the Mettnau peninsula near Radolfzell in the west.


The Reichenauer Damm, on which a 1,300-meter-long poplar avenue runs, was built in 1838 and is accessible by motor vehicle. The dam is interrupted by the seven-meter-wide and 95-meter-long Bruckgraben, which is crossed by the low Reichenau bridge on the state road L 221 Konstanz-Reichenau (Pirminstraße) and through which boats can travel. However, the bridge is too low for sailing boats. The avenue is the starting point of the approximately 2900 kilometer long German avenue road . In the event of high water with a water level of 5.30 meters or more (Konstanz level), the dam is flooded.

The island can be reached by public transport by bus, and in the summer also with excursion boats of the White Fleet and the passenger ferry from Allensbach . Ships of the Swiss shipping company Untersee und Rhein and the BSB Bodensee-Schiffsbetriebe GmbH run to the island several times a day according to the schedule.


Manuscripts and books from the time of the monastery are in the General State Archives and in the Baden State Library. The community archive is housed in the basement of the tourist information, formerly the Sparkasse.


St. Georg, Reichenau-Oberzell

Main article: community Reichenau (district of Konstanz)

Regular celebrations / events

Reichenau, district Mittelzell: Münster - painting depicting the return of the Holy Blood relic to Reichenau Monastery by Johann Franz Schenk von Stauffenberg , Bishop of Konstanz, on May 26, 1738 (detail: bishop with relic under canopy)

On the island of Reichenau, three island holidays are celebrated every year on high church holidays, during which business life on the Reichenau rests and children have no school. The island holidays are celebrated with a festival service in the cathedral and a procession across the island, each time accompanied by the historic vigilante group.

  • April 25th: Procession in honor of St. Mark , the island's patron saint: the bones are in a shrine from the early 14th century. First, the historic vigilante group appears in a parade. Then a pontifical mass takes place in the minster. The following St. Mark's procession with St. Mark's shrine and other reliquary shrines is accompanied by members of the historical vigilante group and the traditional costume group.
  • Annually on the Monday after Trinity Sunday ( Trinity ): Holy Blood Festival : This is an annual Catholic Reichenau holiday, which dates from the time of the medieval Benedictine abbey. The festival is celebrated with a parade of the vigilante groups on the Münsterplatz, pontifical office in the Münster, Holy Blood procession in Mittelzell, Holy Blood celebration in the Münster with adoration of the Holy Blood, concert by the Reichenau Citizen Music on the Ergat.
According to tradition, the Holy Blood relic contains blood- soaked earth from Golgotha , splinters from the cross of Christ and a blood-soaked silk handkerchief. These are located in a small Byzantine abbot cross. The relic was given to Charlemagne in Jerusalem and then came to the Reichenau. The relic was brought to safety in a monastery near Freiburg during the Thirty Years War. In 1737 it was brought back to the Reichenau and given a baroque setting with precious stones, and in 1746 it was made into a baroque monstrance. It is kept in the Holy Blood Altar in the cathedral.
  • August 15th: The church patronage of the minster St. Maria and Markus is celebrated at the same time as the feast day of the Assumption and is an official Catholic island holiday. After a parade of the historical vigilante groups on the Münsterplatz and a festive service in the Minster St. Maria and Markus with the participation of the Münster choir and the Münster orchestra, a procession leads across the island with a figure of Mary and reliquary shrines. Traditionally, after the Assumption procession, the Reichenau World Heritage Day ceremony takes place in the cloister courtyard. A concert by the Reichenau Citizens Music will take place in the cloister courtyard.


  • Wolfgang Erdmann : The Reichenau in Lake Constance. History and art. 11th edition 2004, reviewed by Bernd Konrad and extended by a chapter on the late Gothic choir. English and French résumés. Langewiesche successor, Königstein i. Ts. 2004, ISBN 3-7845-1222-4 .
  • Timo John: The monastery island Reichenau in Lake Constance - "cradle of occidental culture". Beuroner Kunstverlag, Beuron 2006, ISBN 3-87071-128-0 .
  • Helmut F. Reichwald: Monument wear and tear due to mass tourism? World Heritage Reichenau. In: Preservation of monuments in Baden-Württemberg . 32nd year 2003, issue 3, pp. 252-257 ( , PDF).
  • Ottmar Friedrich, Heinrich Schönhuth: Chronicle of the former Reichenau monastery presented from handwritten sources. Constance 1835 ( on Google Books ).
  • Monika Spicker-Beck, Theo Keller: Monastery island Reichenau - culture and heritage. Jan-Thorbecke-Verlag, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-7995-3507-1 .
  • Anne Overlack: World Heritage Island Reichenau. In: Preservation of monuments in Baden-Württemberg. 30th year 2001, issue 2, pp. 63-84 ( , PDF).
  • Stefan Dietrich: Vegetable growing on the island of Reichenau. Master's thesis, Berlin 2008 ( , PDF).
  • State Office for the Preservation of Monuments in the Stuttgart Regional Council (Ed.): UNESCO World Heritage Monastery Island Reichenau in Baden-Württemberg. Stuttgart 2013.

Web links

Commons : Reichenau  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Commons : Reichenau (Baden-Württemberg)  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Reichenau  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. Beatus Rhenanus: Rerum Germanicarum libri tres. (1531) translated by Felix Mundt.
  2. Thomas Zoch: A new chapter in home history. In: "Südkurier", August 11, 2017.
  3. Thomas Zoch: When the island was a quarantine camp. In: Südkurier. from December 16, 2015.
  4. ^ Map sheet from 1901
  5. International water protection commission for Lake Constance: Lake Constance: condition - facts - perspectives. 2nd corrected edition, Bregenz 2004, ISBN 3-902290-04-8 , p. 9.
  6. ^ State Statistical Office Baden-Württemberg (ed.): Housing directory 1961, State manual for Baden-Württemberg. Stuttgart 1964, p. 360.
  7. Contributions to the statistics of the Grand Duchy of Baden: The population census of December 1, 1885. Part II (local directory). Karlsruhe 1889, p. 6.
  8. ... in front of the Bruckgraben and the Reichenau Bridge, the actual beginning of the island.
  9. Contributions to the statistics of the Grand Duchy of Baden: place directory based on the census of December 1, 1905. Karlsruhe 1911, p. 69.
  10. European Commission, Denomination Information: Tomatoes from the island of Reichenau
  11. European Commission, Denomination Information: Salads from the island of Reichenau
  12. European Commission, Denomination Information: Gurken von der Insel Reichenau
  13. European Commission, Denomination Information: Lamb's Salads from the island of Reichenau
  14. and explanations of the Arenenberg castle tour
  15. Michael Lünstroth and Eike Brunhöber: Lake Constance spills over. In: Südkurier of June 20, 2016, p. 25.
  16. State Office for the Preservation of Monuments in the Stuttgart Regional Council (Ed.): UNESCO World Heritage Monastery Island Reichenau in Baden-Württemberg. Stuttgart 2013. p. 39.
  17. Thomas Zoch: A new chapter in home history. In: "Südkurier", August 11, 2017.
  18. Markus Fest , parish Reichenau, accessed on June 11, 2018
  19. State Office for the Preservation of Monuments in the Stuttgart Regional Council (Ed.): UNESCO World Heritage Monastery Island Reichenau in Baden-Württemberg. Stuttgart 2013. p. 40.
  20. Feast of the island patron. In: Südkurier of April 26, 2017.
  21. Thomas Zoch: Believers celebrate the island patron. In: "Südkurier", April 23, 2018.
  22. Holy Blood Festival - Highest Island Holiday and Pilgrimage Day , Reichenau parish , accessed on June 11, 2018
  23. Pilgrim blog of the Knightly Order of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem on the Festival of Blood 2015 , Reichenau parish , accessed on June 11, 2018
  24. Thomas Zoch: The highest holiday on the island. In: Südkurier from May 20, 2016.
  25. Thomas Zoch: The highest Reichenau holiday. In: Südkurier of June 10, 2017.
  26. Thomas Zoch: Bishop builds a bridge to politics. In: Südkurier of June 13, 2017.
  27. Thomas Züch: Auxiliary Bishop comes to the blood festival . In: "Südkurier", May 25, 2018.
  28. ^ Assumption of Mary , Reichenau parish, accessed on June 11, 2018
  29. ^ Foundation World Heritage Monastery Island Reichenau ,, accessed on June 11, 2018
  30. Thomas Zoch: A festival in honor of the Mother of God. In: Südkurier , August 7, 2018
  31. Thomas Zoch: Pope's confidante visits Reichenau. In: Südkurier , August 13, 2019.