|Nickname: Blumeninsel (flower island)|
Mainau, Aerial view
|Area||0.447584 km2 (0.172813 sq mi)|
|Length||1.1 km (0.68 mi)|
|Width||0.61 km (0.379 mi)|
|Coastline||3.2 km (1.99 mi)|
|Highest elevation||425 m (1,394 ft)|
|Pop. density||413.3 /km2 (1,070.4 /sq mi)|
|Private property owned by Lennart Bernadotte-Stiftung|
Mainau[ˈmaɪnaʊ] ( listen) also referred to as Mav(e)no(w), Maienowe (in 1242), Maienow (in 1357), Maienau, Mainowe (in 1394) und Mainaw (in 1580) is an island in Lake Constance (on the Southern shore of the Überlinger See near the city of Konstanz, Baden-Württemberg, Germany). It is maintained as a garden island and a model of excellent environmental practices. Administratively, the island has been a part of Konstanz since December 1, 1971, when the municipality of Litzelstetten, of which Mainau was part, was incorporated into Konstanz. Mainau is still part of Litzelstetten, now one of 15 wards (administrative subdivisions) of Konstanz.
The island belongs to the Lennart Bernadotte-Stiftung (eng. The Lennart Bernadotte Foundation), an entity created by Prince Lennart Bernadotte, Count of Wisborg, originally a Prince of Sweden and Duke of Småland. It is one of the main tourist attractions of Lake Constance. Beside flowers there is a park landscape with views on the lake. There is a greenhouse as well with tropical climate and thousands of butterflies.
Mainau Bay is the location of their university's sailing club.
The island averages out at a height between 395 (roughly equals the lake’s average medium water-level) and 425 meters above sea level. Its highest peak is located at the Großherzog-Friedrich Terrace (historic water reservoir). Mainau Island is 610-meters long from North to South and a 1050 meters wide from West to East. The island’s circumference is about three kilometers. The shortest distance between the downwelling molasse slice and the lake’s shore is about 130 meters.
Few people inhabit Mainau Island. Due to its small amount of inhabitants, it is considered a hamlet. Meyer’s Lexikon’s issue of 1888 declared that 28 people lived on Mainau Island. During the census of 1961, a population of 123 was verified. Count Björn Bernadotte and his wife Countess Sandra Bernadotte live on Mainau Island.
Parks and gardens
Mainau Island is a "flowering island" notable for its parks and gardens. Frederick I, Grand Duke of Baden, created the island's arboretum, which now contains 500 species of deciduous and coniferous trees, many exotic and valuable, including fine specimens of Sequoiadendron giganteum (1864) and Metasequoia glyptostroboides (1952). The island also contains about 200 rhododendron and azalea varieties.
Due to the advantageous climate at the lake, palm trees and other Mediterranean plants can grow on the drop-shaped island. Because of its rich subtropical and partly even tropical vegetation, Mainau Island is also called "flowering island in the Lake Constance". Count Lennart Bernadotte, who passed away in 2004, liked to call his island "Blumenschiff" (engl. flower ship). He also described the famous destination as follows: "She is a coquettish little Lady, Mainau Island, who constantly demands much attention, even more love and ceaselessly new clothes." - Lennart Bernadotte. By "new clothes", he probably meant the blossoms, plants and flower-beds which are constantly renewed by the gardeners.
Apart from the historic buildings, the centerpiece of Mainau Island is the Arboretum with its 500 different types of rare and valuable broad-leaved trees and conifers, which was created in 1856 by grand duke Friedrich I. Among those is one of Germany's "oldest" dawn redwood trees (Metasequoia glyptostroboides). The tree, which originated from China, was planted on the island in 1952, when it was just 70 centimeters tall. Particularly mighty are some exemplars of the giant redwood (Sequoiadendron giganteum). Their seeds came from California in 1853 and were planted on the island in 1864, which makes them one of the oldest of their kind in Europe. You can find the above-mentioned giant redwoods as well as Cedars, Dawn Redwoods and Tulip Poplars on the island. The Arboretum expands towards the north-west of the island.
Spring marks the beginning of the "Blumenjahr" (eng. Flower Year) with an exhibition of orchids. From March to May you can see several types of flowers in full bloom, like Tulips, Daffodils, Primroses, Forget-Me-Nots and Hyacinths. To show the full beauty of all these flowers the so-called „Frühlingsallee“ (eng. Spring Alley) was opened, which is a path across the island surrounded by beds of these plants. From May to June over 200 kinds of Rhododendrons and Azaleas are in full bloom. To the west of the "Comturey-Keller" you can find an Italian rose garden commissioned by Friedrich I.. This rose garden is strictly geometric and consists of pergolas, sculptures and fountains. In generel over 1200 kinds of roses can be found on the island.
„Frühlingsallee“ leads to „Mediterran-Terrassen“ (eng. Mediteranean Terace) where exotic plants such as palm families, agaves, cacti and bougainvillea are presented in pails during summer. Lake Constance and its surroundings as well as the Alps can be seen in a panoramic view from here. In July the blossoms of brugmansia and hibiscus are blooming on Mainau Island and in August the blossoms of passion flowers bloom.
On the southern end you can find “Südgarten” (eng. South Garden) where in autumn fields of dahlia with approximately 20,000 dahlia bushes and 250 varieties gleam from September until October. Spring and summer flowers such as different kinds of fuchsia are growing on the affiliated shore garden to the eastern side of “Südgarten”.
The “Bodenseerelief” (eng. Relief of Lake Constance) is a very popular photo motive. It is a relief with the picture of a flower which is changed by season. A small harbor with a landing place is situated to the northern side of Mainau Island. Excursion boats lay in here and another entrance to “Frühlingsallee” can be found here.
The "Schmetterlingshaus" (eng. butterfly house) on Mainau Island is open all year round. With roughly 1,000 square meters it is the second biggest of its kind in Germany. The temperature is 26 degrees Celsius and with a humitidy of 80 to 90 percent visitors can walk through a tropical surrounding with swooshing waterfalls and exotic plants and flowers. Depending on the season, roughly 700 to 1,000 colorful butterflies of 80 different kinds, mainly of southern American origin, are flying among visitors in the tropical landscape. Approximately one third of these butterflies reproduce in a natural way. But the amount of progeny is extremely varying. Therefore, every week the butterfly house gets 400 butterfly cocoons delivered from Costa Rican, English and Dutch breeders. A budget of approximately 20,000 Euros is provided each year for new butterfly caterpillars. The gardens surrounding the butterfly house serve as habitat for the native species. Affiliated to the butterfly house is a scent garden with more than 150 species of scented plants.
A playground called Wasserwelt (eng. water world) was especially build for kids and it expands over an area of 1,100 square meters. Wasserwelt is a pool which is 60 centimetres deep and bordered by 130 tonnes of boulders. The pool is filled with 170 cubic metres of water and has an island at its centre. The children can float around or cross the lake with rafts or a wooden ferry. The lake is surrounded by little wooden houses which serve as climbing scaffolds and as a reminder of the pile dwellings. The houses are connected through suspension bridges and studs. In addition, there are water channels and mud tables. Matthias Wagner and Markus Zeiler, the two designers of Mainau Island, prepared for the case of a child having dived to deeply into the water world: They placed a tumbler inside a kiosk at the playground, so that parents can easily dry wet clothing. The playground, like all other playgrounds, is inspected and approved by TÜV SÜD on a regular basis.
Other things to be found
Besides the gardens, a peacock enclosure, a petting zoo with goats and ponies, and some gastronomy services can be found on Mainau Island.
The “Deutschordenschloss“ was built upon the stables of the old castle, which had been destroyed in the 18th century. It was built after the drafts and under the construction management of Giovanni Gaspare Bagnato. The construction started in 1739 and took 7 years. The three-winged baroque palace was built around the main courtyard with a terraced garden at its side. At the central risalit of the western part is a big crest of the grand master Clemens August of Bavaria, the provincial commander Philipp von Froberg, and of the Mainaukomptur Friedrich of Baden.
The crest of the “Deutschorden” (eng. Teutonic Order) was affixed to the east wing (Seaside) . The castle still serves as the residence of the comital family. Depending on whether the comital family is present or not, the comital flag is hoisted on the castle’s roof. The private rooms are in the northern wing in the non-accessible part of the castle, which is on the lefthand side of the castle‘s courtyard. The centerpiece is the former audience hall. The so-called “Weißer Saal” (eng. white hall) is kept in the colors white and gold and has since its construction in 1883 not been changed. It is only open to the public for special events or concerts. The central section of the castle is used for temporary exhibitions.
There is a Café in the southern wing with right below the tall palm trees of the castle‘s patio.
Although the building licence for the palm house, a building made up of complex glass structure, originally only covered the few months of winter, it now protects its trees all year round. More than 20 different kinds of palm trees grow here, including a Canarian date-tree (Phoenix canariensis), planted in 1888, which is more than 15 meters high.
Many call the newly constructed palace chapel the debut work of Bagnatos' countless church buildings. Its construction on the southeast end of the island lasted from 1732 to 1739. The rectangular aisleless church is 20 meters long and 9,5 meters wide and has a hemispheric chancel. While raised rectangular panels are organised around the outer front, the lateral walls are decorated with arched windows. A gable is situated above the western wall, just below the tower buildup with a curved roof. The inside of the chapel is divided into two parts: a rectangular aisle containing the semicircular choir and the organ loft right across from the altar. Not just several altars but also a pulpit and multiple sculptures by Joseph Anton Feuchtmayer (1696 - 1770) can be found here. In 1737/1738 Franz Joseph Spiegler (1691 - 1757) added an additional high altar painting as well as ceiling frescoes, now framed by Francesco Pozzi's (1704 - 1789) long garnish stucco. Johann Baptist Babel (1716 - 1799) later added a Black Madonna to the picture. Both side altars display very dynamic angel figures. The left is crowned with a figurine of the martyr Sebastian and the right altar shows St. Nepomuk. The altarpiece of the high altar depicts Maria with child, the holy family and John the Baptist. The ceiling fresco also portrays the life of Mary. The original organ, manufactured by master craftsman Johann Michael Bieher (1687/88 to 1763) from Constance and decorated by Feuchtmayer, was sold and around 1860 and replaced by a new organ in late classicistic style. Bagnatos' grave is situated in the crypt. The castle church is known to be the point of beginning of the oberswabian high baroque und is used as a wedding chapel.
The so called “Gärtnertum” is situated on the western side, opposite the baroque castle- and churchensemble. The walls, that used to be part of the medieval fortifications, contrast the festive frontage of the castle. In earlier days, a vault serving for stockpiling and as a wine press house had been constructed deep inside the rocks. The in 2013/2014 reconstructed and expanded restaurant Comturey offers dining with a view across the lake.
Until the Napoleonic mediatisations and secularisations of small German fiefs this island belonged to the Order of Teutonic Knights. It was later sold into private ownership. In 1853 Grand Duke Frederick I of Baden purchased the island as his personal property and used the palace built by the Teutonic Knights as summer palace. At the end of World War I Baden became a republic with the abdication of Grand Duke Frederick II, son of Frederick I. The former Grand Duke retained his private property including Mainau. When he died childless in 1928 the island passed to his sister Victoria of Baden, wife of King Gustaf V of Sweden. Upon her death two years later she bequeathed the island to her second son Prince Wilhelm, Duke of Södermanland and his descendants. In 1932 Prince Wilhem gave Mainau to his only child Lennart Bernadotte who owned it until 1974 when he transferred the island to a foundation. Count Bernadotte formed Enterprise Mainau GmbH in 1991 as a private enterprise to manage the island for the benefit of the Lennart Bernadotte-Stiftung. The Count remained active in managing Mainau until his death in 2004 but had appointed his second wife Sonja co-manager in 2001. Widowed, she and their children ran both the foundation and the management company until 2007. Since January 2007 Bettina Bernadotte, the eldest daughter of Lennart and Sonja, directs the Mainau GmbH as current manager, and since 2011 her brother Björn Bernadotte has joined her.
Pre- and Early History
In 1862, signs of an earlier population were discovered along the south banks of Mainau and soon exploited by domain administrator Walter: among the items were wedges, a potsherd, flint splinters, an axe and a muller. The pile dwelling settlement made up of six houses was uncovered in the 1930s and dated back to the Neolithic Age ( 3.000 b.c.). Lake-dwelling settlements of the Neolithic and the Bronze Age were located along the northern shore and the southwestern island along the shallow water zone.
- Mainau Island (official website)
- Information and pictures about Mainau
- Mainau: An article and pictures
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