"A celebration of wonderful municipal sculpture!" Konstanz by CatherineReichardt
Konstanz Travel Guide: 234 reviews and 809 photos
Konstanz is a vibrant place, and of all the beautiful towns that border the Bodensee (Lake Constance), I think that it has to be my absolute favourite!
Konstanz is located at the point where the Rhine meets Bodensee and has been settled since Roman times. It is a town with strong ecclesiastic ties, and is probably best known for hosting the Council of Constance which was called to resolve the Papal Schism - this jolly event took place between 1414 and 1418, which makes any of the conferences that I attended during my years as an academic seem mercifully brief by comparison!
Konstanz is also infamous for being the place where the famous Czech cleric Jan Hus was executed. Jan was a free thinker, reformer and (to the Church's mind) inconvenient troublemaker based at the Charles University in Prague. He was lured to the Council under false pretenses, assured safe passage (a promise that was promptly reneaged on), put on trial and condemned to death for heresy. Based on what I recall from the Jan Hus house in Prague, he was burned at the stake on his birthday, which seems like a rather unsporting way to celebrate someone's birthday, but then I suppose that there's never a good time to be executed.
What I recall most fondly about Konstanz was the splendid municipal sculpture. I love the idea of art that is tangible and accessible to the people who live with it on a daily basis, and the fact that much of the sculpture was distinctly satirical appealed immensely to my dark sense of humour!
The wry tone is set as you enter the harbour at Konstanz and are confronted by the colossal statue of Imperia, based on a courtesan character from a tale by Balzac. She is bizarrely clad in an outfit which is reminiscent of Madonna in her conical Jean-Paul Gaultier bra period, and appears to be balancing a smaller figure in each of her hands. Closer inspection reveals that one is Pope Martin V and the other, Sigismund the Holy Roman Emperor (who occupied these august positions at the time of the Council), and both are stark naked - a biting satire on the temporal influences exerted on both church and state!
The statue of Imperia is an unsettling presence, and for our first hour or so in Konstanz, I was disturbed by the fact that wherever we went, she seemed to be looking at us. It took me some time to realise why - Imperia rotates slowly on her base (three minutes per revolution) - most unnerving!
- Pros:Compact, cosmopolitan, cultured and quirky
- In a nutshell:The most vibrant of the towns on Bodensee, and a good base from which to explore
By far the nicest way to explore Bodensee (Lake Constance) is by ferry. There is an extensive network of ferry routes... more travel advice
The day we visited Konstanz was unmercifully hot. It had been threatening to rain for days, but despite the menacing... more travel advice
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