Tuesday, April 29, 2014


The next stop on our island tour was Fraueninsel. The island is only 15.5 hectares and is car free. There are 300 residents as well as an active Benedictine convent. 


Abtei Frauenworth was founded in 782 by Tassilo III, Duke of Bavaria. It has been in continuous operation ever since under the auspices of Benedictine nuns.
Blessed Irmengard who died 16 July 866 was the first abbess known by name and the great-granddaughter of Charlemagne. 

The grounds are not open for public viewing but a glimpse may be had through the gates.

Today the updated abbey is used for retreats and conferences. However, along a back wall you can still see the remnants of the original wall that surrounded the abbey.

We began our walk around the public part of the island with the church. It dates back to the original abbey and the courtyard is the island's cemetery.

There were no photographs permitted inside the church. I can say it was unlike any church I had ever seen. The age of the interior was very obvious with low ceilings and old bells and altars. Quite something to see.

After visiting the church we took a walk around much of the island. For the most part it is dotted with small resorts where one can get away for a long weekend once the weather is warmer. There is also a distillery (the large brown brick building) where the nuns make a local liquor.

With the sun shining brightly we braved the chill to have lunch in the beautiful garden of Zur Linde Gasthaus.

While waiting for the ferry we took a stroll along the water's edge. Although the haze prevented the photos from properly showing it, there were beautiful views of the Alps.

We arrived back at the ferry dock to meet up with Heinz who took the long way back to Rosenheim so that we could see some of the sights typical of Bavaria. It was a very pleasant ride.


Our wonderful taxi driver Heinz became our tour guide for the weekend. On the  trip from the airport to Rosenheim I asked for some recommendations of the best things to see if you only have a few days. When Heinz came back to pick us up for our evening event he arrived with a sheaf of papers on the best local sights, the weather reports for the next few days and the times to do each activity to get the most out of it. We were able to book him for our excursions and I think he has a future as a travel agent.

Saturday morning was chilly but sunny as we headed off to our first destination.    As we drove out into the countryside, I was taken by the number and variety of church towers dotting the landscape. Each small village has its own church and each bell tower has a clock on it as well. And once you learn the area you can tell where you are by the tower because each is unique.

Our destination for the day was Chiemsee, a large inland lake with several islands to explore. Heinz procured our tickets, put us on the ferry and gave us a time and place to meet later in the day.

First up was Herreninsel, Gentlemen's Island. 

This 238 hectare island is filled with hiking trails along beautiful wooded paths. There are also two points of interest to tour. The first is Monastery Herrenchiemsee, a former Benedictine monastery established about 765 AD though some research has indicated an earlier foundation dating to 620/29. At one time the abby was converted to a palace for King Ludwig II while he constructed the new palace on the island. Today the former monastery houses an art collection. Unfortunately, the monastery was closed for renovations during our visit.

So we hiked through the winter woods to see the new palace.

The jewel of Herrenchiemsee is Koenigsschloss or the King's house. It was one of three palaces built by Ludwig II. The construction took place between 1878 and 1885. Ludwig was a great admirer of King Louis XIV of France and the castle is modeled after the Palace of Versailles. 

The building is so large it is difficult to photograph the entire structure. And it was never completed. Only the central portion was built before the king died and construction was discontinued with 50 of the 70 rooms still incomplete.

The external facade is most impressive with sculptures adorning every possible display point.

Unfortunately photos are not permitted inside the palace. But I can assure you that it is every bit as resplendent as the outside. The most interesting points on the tour are the Hall of Mirrors with its 17 arches just as Versailles and the Hall of Peace and the Hall of War on either side. The dining room features an elevator table that works on a pulley system to take it two floors below to be set and laid with food. It is then raised up into the king's dining chamber fully stocked so that no servants needed to enter during dining. This room also featured the world's largest Meissen porcelain chandelier.

Because of the time of year, the fountains were covered and the gardens were not in bloom.

But if you look closely at the photo above, you can see the long garden walk to the waters of Chiemsee. Next time a garden walk is in order. But on this day we boarded our ferry to move along to Fraueninsel.