Noble retreat: Once home to dukes and bishops, today Lake Constance is the playground of well-heeled Germans, Swiss and Austrians

Lake Constance boasts a wealth of palaces, castles and monasteries, all set amid a stunning landscape

Article and photos by Nancy Truman

Since time immemorial, mankind has gravitated toward water. While it was once a matter of survival, now we save up to head to the lake or seaside because it makes us feel good — physically and psychologically. A perfect spot to do that is Lake Constance, a glacier basin that forms part of the Rhine River confluence in the southwest corner of the German state of Baden-Württemberg, with a southern backdrop of snow-capped Alps. Once home to dukes and bishops, today the Bodensee — its German name — is the playground of well-heeled Germans, Swiss and Austrians, who head to their lakeside retreats to sail, windsurf, take a spa treatment and eat and drink at the many fine restaurants.

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You don’t have to own a sailboat or a summer home to enjoy it, however. Much like Baden-Württemberg’s other popular tourist destinations — Heidelberg, Stuttgart, Baden-Baden and the Black Forest — the Bodensee boasts a wealth of cultural sites that tell the stories of two royal dynasties and the clash of two faiths, not to mention stunning natural beauty. I spent a few days exploring the small area between Constance and Meersburg.

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