Lighthouses of Germany: The Bodensee

The Bodensee, usually called Lake Constance in English, is a large lake at the extreme southern end of Germany; the lake is 63 km (39 mi) long and as much as 14 km (8.7 mi) wide. The Rhine River passes through the lake as it leaves Switzerland and begins its course northward through western Germany. The lake is an international waterway: its northern shore is in Germany, the southern shore is in Switzerland, and the eastern end of the lake is in Austria. Navigation is limited to pleasure craft, ferries, and excursion boats like the Austrian ship leaving Lindau in the photo at right.

Historically all three countries had lighthouses on the lake. In addition to the lighthouses listed on this page there are remarkable new lights at Bregenz in Austria and three small lighthouses are listed on the Switzerland page.

The Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesrepublik Deutschland in German) is a federation of sixteen states (Länder). Most of the German shore of the Bodensee is in the state of Baden-Württemberg but Lindau, near the eastern end of the lake, is in Bayern (Bavaria).

In German, a lighthouse is a Leuchtturm ("light tower"), plural Leuchttürme; Insel is an island, Riff is a reef, Kap is a cape, Bucht is a bay, and Hafen is a harbor.

Lighthouses on the lake are probably maintained by the municipal governments of each community.

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights.

General Sources
Leuchtfeuer in Binnenland
Photos and information posted by Erich Hartmann.
Leuchttürme.net - Deutschland - Bodensee
Photos and notes by Malte Werning.
Leuchttürme in Deutschland
Photos by Andreas Köhler.
Lake Constance Lighthouses
Photos by various photographers available from Wikimedia.
World of Lighthouses - Germany
Photos by various photographers available from Lightphotos.net.
Leuchttürme der Alpenregion
Historic postcard views also posted by Klaus Huelse; Bodensee views are at the top of this page.
GPSNauticalCharts
Navigational chart of the Bodensee.
Navionics Charts
Navigational chart of the Bodensee.

Lindau Light
Lindau Light, Lindau, August 2011
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Winfried Tommerdich

Bayern: Lindau Lighthouses
** Lindau Mangturm
About 1230. Inactive since 1856. 37 m (121 ft) square stone medieval tower with a tall pyramidal roof. G. Freihalter's 2022 photo is at right, Werning has an excellent photo, Wikimedia has a good photo, Paul Henry Jones has a 2016 photo, Huelse has a historic postcard view, Georg Lindner has a street view, and Google has a satellite view. Lindau is located on an island just off the northeastern shore of the Bodensee, close to the Austrian border. This fortified tower protected Lindau for centuries and is reported to have served also as a lighthouse, although it is not clear how the light was shown. The roof was replaced using authentic materials after the original was heavily damaged by lightning in 1979. Located on the waterfront of Lindau. Site open, tower open but hours are said to vary. Owner/site manager: presumably the city of Lindau. ARLHS FED-146.
**** Lindau (Westmole)
1856. Active; focal plane 35 m (115 ft); continuous red light; also a white flash every 3 s but only when triggered by radio signals from arriving ships. 36 m (118 ft) round stone tower with lantern and gallery. Lantern painted grren, gallery red. The lighthouse is floodlit at night. A photo by Winfried Tommerdich appears above, Hartmann has a page for the lighthouse, Werning has a good photo, Michele Pegoraro has a nice nighttime view, Wikimedia has numerous photos, the city has a page for the harbor entrance and lighthouse, Huelse has a historic postcard view, Phil Schmidt has a street view, and Google has a satellite view. This lovely and much-photographed lighthouse is located at the end of the west mole sheltering the town's harbor. The lighthouse was built and operated by the railroad (now Deutsche Bahn) until the railroad dropped its ferry routes and sold its Lindau harbor facilities to Stadtwerke Konstanz, which operates ferry service from Lindau to Meersburg on the German side and Romanshorn in Switzerland. In 2010 the town of Lindau acquired the lighthouse and opened it to the public as a museum. Site open, museum and tower open 11 am to 6 pm daily April through September except when bad weather makes the pier unsafe. Owner/operator: City of Lindau. ARLHS FED-145.

Manturm, Lindau,February 2022
Wikimedia Creative Commons photo by G. Freihalter
Lindau Glockenschlagwerk
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 9 m (30 ft); red light occulting once every 10 s. Apparently there is also a bell; Glockenschlagwerk means "chiming mechanism." 9 m (30 ft) square skeletal tower with gallery. Google has an indistinct satellite view. Located at the edge of a shoal 180 m (200 yd) south of the entrance to Lindau harbor. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed.

Baden-Württemberg: Friedrichshafen Lighthouse
*** Friedrichshafen Westmole (3?)
2000. Active; focal plane 23 m (75 ft); continuous white light; according to Hartmann there is also a continuous red light at the foot of the tower. 22 m (72 ft) square skeletal lookout tower (Aussichtsturm). Steffi Hinterseer has a 2021 photo, Rolf Brenner has a street view, and Daniel Kessler has a street view from the top of the tower (note the buoy in the distance). Google has a satellite view. The tower replaced a 16 m (52 ft) pole. A fog bell (probably historic but inactive) was also mounted on the pole. The two moles at Friedrichshafen formerly carried identical skeletal towers with lanterns, seen in Huelse's historic postcard view. A second postcard view has a better view of the former west mole lighthouse. Located at the end of the west mole of Friedrichshafen harbor. Site and lookout tower open.

Baden-Württemberg: Konstanz Lighthouses
Konstanz is a city of about 85,000 residents located at the west end of the lake, on the north side of the Rhine River as it exits the main section of the lake.
* Konstanz Ostmole ("Imperia") (2?)
Date unknown (station established 1842). Active; focal plane 6 m (20 ft); green light, 3 s on, 3 s off. 1-story octagonal stone gauging station supporting a 9 m (30 ft) rotating sculpture. Andi Möller has a 2007 photo, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. Here is one of the most unusual sites (or sights) in this Directory. The stone base now houses the equipment that records the water level of the lake, but originally it supported the light and signal tower shown in Huelse's historic postcard view. The active light is shown from a mast in front of the gauging station. The statue, called "Imperia" and completed in 1993, is by Peter Lenk; it recalls a story by Balzac about a prostitute in Konstanz at the time of the Councils of Constance (1414-1418). (The small figures in the woman's hands are the Pope and the Emperor.) Located at the end of the east mole of the Dampferhafen in Konstanz; accessible by walking the mole. Site open, building closed. Owner/site manager: presumably the city of Konstanz.
* Konstanz Südmole (Molenhäusle) (2)
1890 (station established 1842). Active; focal plane 12 m (39 ft); red light, 3 s on, 3 s off; a continuous red light is also shown from a short mast in front of the lighthouse. Approx. 12 m (40 ft) keeper's house with octagonal stone lower story, octagonal cast iron upper story, and octagonal lantern room, crowned by a steeple, at one corner. The light is mounted on a mast. Sebastian Schulz's photo is at right, Grzegorz Przytula has a fine photo, another photo is available, Huelse has a postcard view inscribed 1906, and Google has a street view from the Imperia statue and a satellite view. Huelse also has a historic postcard view of the original lighthouse. When the railroad came to Konstanz in 1838 the railroad company built two moles to enclose a small harbor, the Dampferhafen (Steamboat Harbor) adjacent to the train station. This light and the Ostmole light (previous entry) were built at the ends of the moles in 1842. This lighthouse was extensively altered in 1890. The lighthouse is known locally as the Molenhäusle (Little House on the Mole). The harbor is only used now by recreational boaters, and the lighthouse is a clubhouse for a powerboat club. Located at the end of the south mole of the Dampferhafen in Konstanz, at the western (lower) end of the Bodensee. Site and tower closed (private), but there's a good close view from the end of the Ostmole. Owner/site manager: DSMC (Deutsch Schweizerischer Motorboot Club). ARLHS FED-130.

Information available on lost lighthouses:


Konstanz Molenhäusle, Konstanz, September 2007
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Sebastian Schulz

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining pages: East: Austria | South: Switzerland

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Posted April 9, 2005. Checked and revised April 18, 2022. Lighthouses: 6. Site copyright 2022 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.