See Chiemsee, the Bavarian Sea

I guess if you have a relatively large lake you can give it a bit more gravitas if you call it a sea, and that’s pretty much what has happened to Lake Chiemsee, a fresh water lake in Bavaria which also borders Austria, near Salzburg.  Although officially named Lake Chiemsee it is also called the Bavarian Sea. To further add to the confusion, The Chiemsee is divided into the northeast, called Weitsee, and the Inselsee, in the southwest.

The area around the lake is called Chiemgau, and is a popular recreational are for the Germans.

The lake has a number of islands; the most popular of them are Herrenchiemsee, which is the largest island; Frauenchiemsee which is smaller.  To make it more confusing, these two islands are also known as Herreninsel (gentleman’s island) and Fraueninsel (lady’s island).  There is another island in this group called Krautinsel, or Herb Island, and it is uninhabited.  There are five other small uninhabited islands too.

Now that you fully understand German nomenclature you may like to know that the island Herrenchiemsee is also called Herreninsel, and that on that island is a complex called Herrenchiemsee which is a group of royal buildings that were built for King Ludwig II and was based on the design of the Palace of Versailles.   That was the new Palace; there is also an Old Palace there which Ludwig used as his base whilst the New Palace was being built.  Before Ludwig acquired the Old Palace it had started life as a Benedictine Monastery, which, after many hundreds of years, was converted into a brewery.

King Ludwig II died before his masterpiece could be completed, and it is certainly worth the visit, even to see the New Palace in its incomplete state, as the building is still impressive.  For instance, the Hall of Mirrors is bigger than the one that was copied at Versailles, and the main dining room contains the world’s largest chandelier.    

The other main island of Frauenchiemsee is often called Fraueninsel, and it contains a Benedictine Convent called Abbey Frauenworth and a small village in which cars are banned.  The Convent was founded in 1782 and is still going strong.

The island is renowned as a place where many artists of all kinds (mainly potters, painters and weavers) find inspiration and a tranquil place to work.  Fraueninsel has the reputation of being one of the prettiest locations in Germany, particularly because of its painted 19th century houses which add massively to the quaint appeal.

The convent produces a number of excellent liqueurs which are made from herbs using a method called extraction.  Among the liqueurs they produce are sweet, tasty “Klosterlikör”, spicy-dry “Halfbitter”, digestive “Magenbitter”, invigorating “Klostergeist” and fruity-sweet “Wildfruchtlikör”.  They also make really good marzipan.

Chiemsee Ferry Boats can take you to the islands from several points at the mainland. However, the closest port is Gstadt.

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