Bregenz is the capital city of Vorarlberg, Austria. Bregenz lies on the shores of Lake Constance, locally known as the Bodensee which is bordered by Austria, Switzerland and Germany. Lake Constance is the third-largest freshwater lake in central Europe. The city stands at the foot of the Pfänder mountain which has a cable car taking visitors up to the restaurant and alpine zoo at the top from where there are magnificent views across Bregenz, the lake, mountains and the three countries below. In the summer Bregenz hosts the Bregenzer Festspiele which is a wonderful music festival whose stage is set on the waters of the lake, each year it presents an Opera which draws visitors from all over the world.Bregenz dates back to 1500BC, Celtic tribes named it Brigantii. After battles in 15 BC, the Romans conquered Brigantion and the city became a Roman camp. It was conferred the status of a municipality (Brigantium) around 50 AD and was the seat of the Roman admiralty for Lake Constance. From 610 to 612 St. Columbanus and Saint Gall worked as missionaries in Bregenz.
The city was sold in 1451 and in 1523 to the Habsburgs and continued under Austrian rule, with a brief occupation by Swedish forces under Carl Gustaf Wrangel during the 30 Years’ War, until the 19th century. Bregenz was under Bavarian rule from 1805 to 1814. From 1842 to 1850, the harbour on Lake Constance was built. In 1883 and from 1889–1891 the harbour was enlarged, and Austrian ship service was set up in 1884. Rail communication has existed since 1872 and since 1884 across the Arlberg massif. Since then, the town has extended to the surrounding countryside.
Bregenz is the capital city of Vorarlberg and sits on the shores of Lake Constance, locally known as the Bodensee. Bregenz is a lively town with plenty of shops, restaurants and cafes, many of which are now located around a pedestrian zone. The main road which runs from Germany into Austria has been re-directed so as not to disturb the old town, but with its position at the foot of the Pfänder mountain and the lake on the other side it is difficult to by-pass the town completely, not that Bregenz should be missed out. The promenade along the shores of the lake make for a wonderful walk, especially during the hot summers when the large trees give shade from the sun. Benches line the pathways and make for excellent places from which to people watch. Swimming in the lake is very popular during the summer months and small boats can be hired for those not wanting to get wet!
There is a cycleway which runs around the lake and is a great way to see the three countries which surround it as well as the towns and villages. Cycling around the lake will take a few days as the distance is 300km but this can be shortened considerably by the use of ferries to cut out certain parts of the trip, it is mostly level so it is an enjoyable outing. Cycling is a great way to get about the area and cycles can be hired from the railway station. The evenings bring some of the most beautiful sunsets across the waters of Lake Constance and are well worth watching out for. At the far end of the promenade is the outdoor theatre and floating stage of the Festspiele which hosts the festival each summer in mid-July to mid-August and attracts around 200,000 visitors each year.
Boat trips can be taken from the port, there are crossings to Lindau, Germany as well as short trips and day trips around the lake which stop off at various towns as well as “Insel Mainau” a small and very beautiful island with its own micro-climate, large house and excellent gardens, cruises to Friedrichshafen, home of the Zepplinmuseum and a number of sunset and dinner cruises. Boat information. Take a trip by cable-car up the Pfänder mountain,the cable car operates daily from 8am-7pm, which departs on the hour and half-hour from where there are fantastic views over the lake and the three countries with snow-capped mountains framing the scenery below. There is a restaurant, Berghaus Pfänder, and an alpine zoo (free admission) and a Birds of Prey show which make this outing a day trip on its own. Martinsturm is Bregenz’s most famous landmark, built in 1601, it was a former granary and is topped with the largest “onion cupola” in Europe. It can be found in Martinstrasse in the upper town.
The Kunsthaus Bregenz is one of the leading galleries in Europe and presents exhibitions of international contemporary art. There is a large Central Train Station in the city located near to the lake and the city centre, from here there are connections to Vienna with stops at Linz, Salzburg and Innsbruck. One can also travel by Railjet to and from Vienna which takes around one hour off the time and is far superior in quality. ÖBB train information. A trip from Bregenz into the nearby Bregenzerwald is a must, the scenery is wonderful and the roads take one through small towns and villages set among velvet green fields with wooden farm houses surrounded by high mountains. There are many opportunities to do a bit of paragliding in this area. The Bregenzerwald is also reached by bus from the train station.
Take a short drive from the city centre to Gebhardsberg, a former castle – Schloss Hohenbregenz – only the ruins of the former castle now remain but there is an excellent restaurant here now with fantastic views, evening is a great time to visit as you can take in the beautiful sunset from this vantage point high on the mountain ridge. In the lead up to Christmas Bregenz hosts a Weihnachtsmarkt –Bregenz Christmas Market– in the city centre near to the port.
Nearest Airports are Zurich in Switzerland, Memmingen in Germany and Friedrichshafen in Germany.
Bregenz– Christmas Markets in Austria
Advent is a time when the city comes alive with twinkling lights, decorated chalets and the sounds, sights and smells of the Christmas Markets, it is a wonderful time of year to visit the city and to join in the celebrations and to do a bit of Christmas shopping. Discover the dates and times of the Christmas celebrations held in the city ‘Here’
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