Oh, Constance! — This large border town has some of the most impressive and extensive Altstadt (Old Town) scenery in Germany. Being so close to Switzerland, it wasn’t bombed or attacked during the war — so it retains its picturesque and ancient medieval character.
It is best to arrive by boat to see this ancient settlement growing before your eyes as you approach her.
Constance (or Konstanz) straddles the mighty Rhine as she empties from the huge Lake Constance, and has been inhabited since Roman times. The labyrinth of narrow streets and merchants houses fill the southern part of town, spilling out onto the dockside where statues and gardens line the area — including the giant (and rotating) 9m statue of a voluptuous woman said to have “plied her trade” during Constance’s past!
By following the myriad of lanes back inland, you will find the history. Head north from the Markstätte underpass towards the Münster, a place of worship on the towns highest point. Here you will discover the 1000 year old crypt beneath a hotch-potch of design additions and elaborate extensions throughout history. The church has been “under repair” since the 1960’s ;-) and may well be for many years to come.
From here continue on to Niederburg near the river Rhine itself to find the oldest buildings. Many of the tiny merchants houses here have been converted to sell today’s wants and needs: antiques, wine bars and delicious local food. You will also find the only convent in the area the Kloster Zoffingen, nestled peacefully amongst the buildings which seem crammed, almost impossibly, into these tiny streets!
With these crowded roads and many pedestrianized areas, walking or cycling is the best option — and you can forget about bringing a car here at the weekend! ;-) Most hoteliers offer free day-passes for buses in the town to customers staying more than 2 nights in Constance itself — so find out in advance before booking.
To the very south of town, you will find the frontier crossing out of Germany. Complete with uniformed guards, this type of security is not found in many towns these days, so it’s certainly worth a trip “next door” while in Constance to get that stamp in your passport. :-)
After returning, take a stroll along the seafront promenade of neo-classical mansions on the northern side of town, overlooking the Bodensee — the majestic Lake Constance with its mountainous and majestic alpine backdrop.