Untersee (Lake Constance)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Untersee, to the East, the Seerhein and parts of the Obersee are visible.
Yellow: German state of Baden-Württemberg, green: Swiss canton of Thurgau, red: Swiss Canton of Schaffhausen

The Untersee (German for Lower Lake) is the smaller of the two lakes that together form Lake Constance and forms part of the boundary between Switzerland and Germany.


The Untersee near Berlingen

Lake Untersee measures 63 km² and is situated about 30 cm lower than the Obersee. The Romans called it Lacus Acronius. In the Middle Ages, the Upper Lake was called Bodamicus Lacus, or Bodensee in German. At some point in time, this term began to include the Lower Lake, and a new term "Upper Lake" (in German: Obersee), was introduced for the larger lake.

The main tributaries are the Seerhein and Radolfzeller Aach. The landscape surrounding the Untersee is very diverse. The Untersee contains two islands: Reichenau and Werd (near the transition to the High Rhine). In the northeast is found the Bodanrück peninsula; in the northwest, the Hegau lowlands with the Mettnau peninsula; in the west, the Höri peninsula, with Mount Schiener Berg, and in the south, the Seerücken, which reaches more than 300 feet above the Untersee near Berlingen.

Bordering Lake Untersee are the Swiss cantons of Thurgau and Schaffhausen and the German state of Baden-Württemberg. In contrast to the Obersee, the border between Germany and Switzerland across Lake Untersee is well defined. Municipalities on the Swiss side are Gottlieben, Ermatingen, Salenstein, Berlingen, Steckborn, Mammern, Eschenz and Stein am Rhein. Municipalities on the German side are Öhningen, Gaienhofen, Moos am Bodensee, Radolfzell, Reichenau, Allensbach and Constance.

Lake Zeller, Lake Gnadensee and Markelfingen Corner[edit]

The island of Reichenau, as seen from the Seerücken

Three parts in the north of Lake Untersee have names of their own: Lake Zell, Lake Gnadensee and Markelfingen Corner. Lake Zell is the part between the Mettnau peninsula in the north, of the Höri peninsula in the south and Reichenau Island in the east. To the west lies the estuary of the Radolfzeller Aach. The Gnadensee (German for: "Lake Grace") extends Allensbach in the north and the island of Reichenau in the south, from the tip of Mettnau in the west to the Reichenau causeway with its highly visible Poplar Avenue in the east.

According to legend, the name grace of the lake comes from the time when the court house was located on the island of Reichenau. If a defendant was sentenced to death, the execution of the sentence could not be carried out on the island, but only on the mainland because the island was "holy ground". Therefore, the condemned man was brought by boat to the mainland in the direction of Allensbach, where the sentence could be grace. Now, if the abbot wanted to pardon the condemned, he would ring a bell before the offender arrived on the other shore. This signaled to the executioner on the mainland, that prisoner had been pardoned.

The story above is unlikely to be true. A more probable theory is that the lake is named after Maria, "Our Lady of Grace", as the church of the abbey on the island was dedicated to St. Mary and St. Mark.[1] The place name Frauenfeld in neighbouring Thurgau can be similarly explained.

The Markelfingen Corner is the western end of Lake Gnadensee, between Markelfingen in the north, Radolfzell in the west and Mettnau in the south.[2] Its eastern boundary is at the level of Mount Mettnauspitze. With is maximum water depth of 16 m, the Markelfingen Corner is the shallowest part of the lake. It has a tributary: the Mühlbach, which drains the Mindelsee.


A section of the lake is known as Rheinsee ("Lake Rhine", not to be confused with Seerhein, which is a segment of the river Rhine). This section is bounded to the north by the island of Reichenau, to the west by the southern shore of the Höri peninsula and to south by the Swiss bank. This follows more or less the border between Germany and Switzerland. Some authors call this section the "Untersee in the strict sense".[3]

He succeeds about the Untersee force in the boundary between Germany and Switzerland. This section of the lake is also referred to when the Untersee in the strict sense of the question.[3] The term Rheinsee is hardly used in everyday language, and usually found only in professional publications.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nyffenegger Eugene and Martin Graf: Thurgau name book, vol 3.1, Frauenfeld / Stuttgart / Vienna, 2007, ISBN 978-3-7193-1458-3, p602
  2. ^ Markelfingen Corner in a description of the study area of the Landesanstalt für Umwelt, Messungen und Naturschutz Baden-Württemberg
  3. ^ a b Seespiegel, Issue 20: The Bodensee: three parts, one lake


  • Patrick Brauns, Wolfgang Pfrommer: Nature Hiking Guide Untersee. Nature guide to the unique cultural landscapes in the western Lake Constance area. (Hiking, biking, inline skating, canoeing, boat tours), Naturerbe-Verlag Resch, Überlingen, 1999, ISBN 3-931173-14-3.

Coordinates: 47°41′N 9°0′E / 47.683°N 9.000°E / 47.683; 9.000