Konstanz

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Konstanz (pronounced [ˈkɔnstants], locally [ˈkɔnʃtants]; also known in English as Constance) is a university town of around 80,000 inhabitants. Home of Konstanz University, it is located at the western end of Lake Constance in the south-west corner of Germany, bordering Switzerland.

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Location

Konstanz is situated on Lake Constance (the Bodensee in German). The Rhine river, which starts in the Swiss Alps, passes through Lake Constance and leaves it again, considerably larger, by flowing under a bridge connecting the two parts of the city. North of the river lies the larger part of the city with residential areas, industrial estates, and the University of Konstanz; while south of the river is the old town which houses the administrative centre and shopping facilities in addition to the Hochschule or the University of Applied Sciences. Car ferries provide access across Lake Constance to Meersburg, and the Katamaran provides a shuttle service for pedestrians to Friedrichshafen. To the south, the old town borders onto the Swiss town of Kreuzlingen.

Subdivisions

Konstanz is subdivided into 15 wards or districts (Stadtteile). The island of Mainau belongs to the ward of Litzelstetten, a separate municipality until its incorporation into Konstanz on Dec. 1, 1971.

History

The first traces of civilization in Konstanz date back to the late Stone Age. Around 50 AD, the first Romans settled on the site. Its name, originally Constantia, comes either from the Roman emperor Constantius Chlorus, who fought the Alemanni in the region and fortified the town around 300 AD, or from his grandson Constantius II, who visited the region in 354.

Around 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's 6,000 inhabitants were exempt 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 gained the status of Imperial City so it was henceforth subject only to the Holy Roman Emperor.

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