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  • Day196

    Day 197: Reichenau and Pile Dwellings

    August 30, 2017 in Germany ⋅ 🌧 21 °C

    Speeding through the last couple of days of Switzerland! Long days with lots happening! Today we were out early again, heading north across the border in Germany. Our first destination was the Monastic Island of Reichenau on Lake Konstanz, a UNESCO world heritage site.

    Basically it's an island that was inhabited by monks from around the 8th century onwards, and very important to the monastic history of the area. It's not a huge island, about 1 x 4km, but it was originally covered with churches and chapels, and of course small plots of land where the monks farmed their food.

    Only three of the churches still remain, so we checked them out in order. All were interesting, but the best was the oldest one, as it had enormous frescoes from the 9th century still inside - the oldest-known mural paintings north of the Alps. Lots of stuff about the life of Jesus, and him performing miracles like raising Lazarus, healing lepers and so on. We had to go on a guided tour that was of course only in German, so I just spent most of it wandering around taking photos/video, and chuckling whenever the group laughed as well.

    Since we were in Germany, we decided to visit a cafe for lunch and not pay Swiss prices, so I had a small plate of sausages and potato salad for about 5 euros - total bargain considering what we'd paid in the last week for food.

    Next up was a long drive around Lake Konstanz to the waterfront town of Uhldingen-Muhlhofen. Here there's a large open-air museum dedicated to our second WHS of the day, the Prehistoric Pile Dwellings of the Alps. Essentially, in neolithic times the peoples of the area lived in stilt houses above the lake. I'm not really sure why, though I guess for easy trade & transport, security from predators and rival tribes and so on would make sense.

    These sites are dotted around the Alps, mostly in Switzerland but some in Germany, Austria, Italy and Slovenia as well. Since they were wooden stilt houses, the modest remains are now of course all underwater and nothing can really be seen, so the reconstruction museum is basically the best place to film. Which we did! It was quite interesting, and cool to see how objects found nearby can really inform archaeologists about these people's way of life.

    Late afternoon we headed back to our hut in Switzerland, in time for Shandos to have another swim in the pool while I cooked another batch of sausages for dinner. Huge thunderstorm overnight, lots of lightning and some quite close! Schnitzel did an awful lot of barking, poor little guy.
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