12Sta249The best part of my recent trip was a visit to Rose Island or Roseninsel, as it’s called in German, in the Starnberger See. There is only the one small islet in the whole of the rather big lake, and it’s a truly magical place.

The first people settled there in the Stone Age, and from one point at the shore, you can see the remains of their stilt houses in the water (when it’s clear enough). I was fortunate enough to be able to see them, but taking a good picture didn’t work!

King Maximilian II of Bavaria bought the island from a local fisherman, and used it as a summer retreat for himself and his family. The royal family stayed in Schloss Berg, just across the lake, and came over for a day by boat. King Max had a beautiful rose garden planted (which gave the island its name) and a villa erected which is really no more than a glorified pavillion, with a very modern toilet, a big dining room and two bedrooms for king and queen to take an afternoon nap.

His son King Ludwig II also loved the island and used it to receive his most special visitors like the Russian Tsarina, his cousin Empress Elisabeth of Austria and the composer Richard Wagner.


The island was neglected for most of the 20th century, but then the royal family sold it to the Bavarian state, and it’s been renovated since. It’s now open to the public. BUT – and I think this a strike of genius on behalf of the planners – everything has been done to preserve its magical atmosphere.

You need to cross to the island in small boat from a tiny landing stage that you can only reach by walking from the train station (about 1 mile) or the nearest parking site (about 0.6 miles). On the island itself, the only buildings are the villa, the gardener’s cottage (now the ticket office), and a hut with toilets near the landing stage. No food or drinks are sold (except water from the boatman), and so you can only take the excellent guided tour through the villa, walk around, or sit on one of the numerous benches. It’s eminently restful, and you can feed your eyes and soul with the beauty around you.

Have you discovered similar magical places on your vacations?

– Rike Horstmann

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High school teacher. Soccer fan (Werder Bremen, yeah!). Knitter and book-binder. Devotee of mathematical puzzles. German.