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Konstanz

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(Redirected from Constance)

Konstanz (English traditionally Constance) is a small university town of around 80,000 people on the shore of Lake Constance (Bodensee) in the south-west corner of Germany, bordering Switzerland.

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Location

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Konstanz-bruecke1925.jpg
Konstanz in 1925 seen from the lake

Konstanz is situated on the river Rhine which starts in the Swiss Alps and runs through Lake Constance. North of the river lies the larger part with residential areas and industrial estates; while south of the river is the old town which houses the administrative centre and shopping facilities. To the south, the old town is grown together with Kreuzlingen, a Swiss town.

History

The first traces of civilisation in Konstanz dates back to the later stoneage.

Around 100 AD, the first Romans settled on the site. Its name, originally Constantia, comes from the emperor Constantius Chlorus who fought the Alemanni in the region and fortified the town.

Probably in 585 the first bishop took residence in Konstanz and marked the beginning of the city's importance as a spiritual center. By the late Middle Ages, about one fourth of Konstanz' 5'000 inhabitants were extempt from taxation on account of clerical rights.

Trade thrived during the middle ages; Konstanz owned the only bridge in the region which crossed the Rhine, making it a strategic place. Their linen production had made an international name and the city was prosperous. In 1192, Konstanz got the status of Imperial City so it was henceforth subject only to the emperor.

1414-1418 the Council of Constance took place during which, on July 6, 1415, Jan Hus was burned at the stake. It was here that the Papal Schism was ended and Pope Martin V was elected during the only conclave ever held north of the alps. Ulrich von Richental's illustrated chronical of the Council of Constance testifies to all the major happenings during the Council, as well as showing the everyday life of medieval Konstanz. The Konzilgebäude where the conclave was held can still be seen standing by the harbour. Closeby stands the Imperia, a statue that was errected in 1993 to remind of the Council.

In 1460 the Swiss Confederacy conquered the Thurgau, Konstanz' natural hinterland. Konstanz then made an attempt to get admitted to the Swiss Confederacy, but the forest cantons votet against its entry, fearing an overmight of the city cantons. Konstanz then entered the Swabian League instead. In the Swabian War of 1499, Konstanz lost its last privileges over the Thurgau to the Confederation.

The Reformation took hold in Konstanz in the 1520's, headed by Ambrosius Blarer. Soon the city declared itself officially Protestant, pictures were removed from the churches, and the bishop temporarely moved to Meersburg, a small town across the lake. However, in 1548 Emperor Charles V imposed the Imperial Ban on Konstanz and it had to surrender to Habsburg Austria which had immediately attacked. Thus, Konstanz lost its status as imperial city as well as the last remainder of its former glory.

The new Habsburg overlords were eager to re-Catholicise the town and in 1604 a Jesuit College was opened. Its accompanying theater, built in 1610, is the oldes theater in Germany still performing regularly.

Konstanz was part of Austria until Napoleon assigned it to the Grossherzogtum Baden in 1806.

Konstanz Today

Because it practically lies within Switzerland, Konstanz was not bombed by the Allied Forces during World War II. The Altstad (Old Town), which is big considering the small size of modern Konstanz, has many old buildings and twisted alleys. There is a majestic Minster (cathedral), several churches and three towers left over from the city wall, one of which marks the place of the former medieval bridge over the Rhine.

A university was established close to the town in 1966. It houses a top library with approximately 2 million books, all freely accessible 24 hours a day.

Konstanz was the birthplace of Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, constructor of the famous Zeppelin airships.

The city is twinned with Fontainebleau, France; Richmond-upon-Thames, England; Lodi, Italy; Tábor, Czech Republic; and Suzhou, PR China.

External links

de:Konstanz fr:Constance (Allemagne) it:Costanza pl:Konstancja (miasto) sv:Konstanz

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