Story and photos by Janice, featured image by Takashi Images / shutterstock.com
Whilst spending a week last summer in Lake Constance, I came across a museum that is like no other. Tucked away in the town of Uhldingen-Mülhofen, Pfahlbau Museum is a gem of an interactive and educational exhibition that transports you back in time.
Pfahlbau Open Air Museum presents archaeologically reconstructed versions of lake dwellings that existed during the Neolithic and Bronze Age. They are popularly known as pile dwellings, as the houses were erected atop wooden pilings pounded into the ground, underwater.
Situated in the middle of the oldest nature reserve in Lake Constance, construction of Pfahlbau Museum began in 1920. Construction was done after the remains of a 4000 BC Neolithic settlement was found at an archaeological excavation in a bog close to the Federsee and Bad Schussenried.
Pile dwellings have been in existence along the shores of most large lakes in Switzerland, Italy, France and Germany. It is known that there were approximately 100 to 400 settlements that once existed in Lake Constance.
These lake houses on stilts were built due to its proximity to fresh water, food supplies and trade routes. It was easy to keep domestic animals in the village while keeping wild animals and human raiders out. The stilts served as protection against flooding and offered some defense against vermin and pests.
Pfahlbau Museum is one of the largest open air exhibitions in Europe. It features two villages comprising of 23 different dwellings and all linked by wooden bridges.
Once paying for the entry ticket, visitors are ushered into a circular multimedia room. The impressive visual presentation of the lake’s images were projected on the walls and ceilings of the “Archeorama”. The doors then opened and visitors are emerged outdoors into the entrance of the main Pfahlbau village.
This this museum is like stepping back in time when exploring the dwellings and crossing over the bridges. Seeing the re-enactors dressed in Bronze Age clothing also transported me a back to this amazing ancient world. The dwelling’s exhibitions presented day-to-day life for the villagers. Visitors can see also tools for basket weaving and woodwork as well as nets and spears for fishing, etc.
On the shore visitors can try their hand at boat carving using ancient tools, making fire with primitive tools or playing music with ancient wooden instruments.
Make the most of your trip to Lake Constance by visiting other “must-sees” in and near Uhldingen:
Birnau– the imposing baroque Basilica is a beautiful holy sanctuary with an amazing lakeside view of the Bodensee.
Meersburg– this quaint medieval town is only 8 km from Pfahlbauten museum. The castle is not to be missed.
Address: Strandpromenade 6
Telephone: + 49 (0) 7556 928 900
Author’s Profile: Janice is a military spouse, mom of 3 (a teen, tween and toddler), thrifty traveler, practical crafter and a blogger who currently lives in Stuttgart with her family.