march 6


Prehistoric pile dwellings – Rose Island

By Frank

March 6, 2023

Its only island is Roseninsel, which is about 170 meters from the western shore of Lake Starnberg . Although it is very small, it is growing through deposits and silting - at the beginning of the 19th century it was only 1.3 hectares in size, now it is around 2.6 hectares.

The island is believed to have existed as early as 6,000 BC. was populated . This assumption is suggested by various pottery shards found on the island. Various finds such as prehistoric pile dwellings indicate that Rose Island was probably viewed as a place of worship in the past. These pile dwellings are also the reason why the only island in Lake Starnberg is now part of the UNESCO World Heritage and is therefore particularly well cared for. But the Rose Island has not only caused a stir in the past.

AHA! cool...

History of Pile Dwellings

From the Stone Age around 5000 BC. to the Iron Age around 500 BC . BC there were pile dwellings in the lakes and moors around the Alps . Thanks to the form of settlement in the water, many of these 4000-year-old buildings have been perfectly preserved - and have been coming to light again for more than 150 years as an archaeological sensation .

Nowhere else in Europe can the development of prehistoric cultures be followed in such detail as in the alpine lakes with their pile dwellings. This special form of settlement had several advantages: the buildings protected against predators and enemies, and at the same time, due to the proximity to the shore, not only fishing but also agriculture could be practiced. However, there was no uniform culture and development of the pile dwellings: Altogether more than 30 archaeological culture groups can be proven in the pile dwellings, which makes these sites archaeologically so valuable .

Pile dwellings on Rose Island

The history of the pile dwellings on the Rose Island dates back to the Neolithic period, around 4000 years before our era . The first settlers built simple dwellings on stilts to protect themselves from flooding and to have better access to water. Over time, the stilt houses became more complex and also served as workshops, storage rooms and meeting places. Trade relations were also established with other regions, and so there was a lively exchange of goods and ideas .

King Maximilian II of Bavaria buys the island

The pile dwellings on Roseninsel were discovered in the 1850s when the Bavarian King Maximilian II of Bavaria acquired the island and had a villa and an English landscaped park built there. During the construction of the villa and park, the remains of the houses on stilts were discovered and studied by archaeologists. The stilt houses on Rose Island have been found to date from different eras , from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age.

A Romanesque stone church was built on the island in the 7th century AD, of which only the western wall and the foundations remain today. These were integrated into the gardener's house erected in 1853 or built over it . This casino was the former summer home of King Maximilian II who lived here in the 19th century. The king had a magnificent garden laid out around the summer house , which was almost lined with tall roses - and thus laid the foundation for the rose garden. Hundreds of fragrant roses are planted in this rose garden - the oval rosarium .

This variety of plants is of course also the reason why the island has been given the sonorous name "Rose Island" .


Prehistoric pile dwellings are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Prehistoric pile dwellings at Roseninsel

Prehistoric pile dwellings on Rose Island Source: Bayr. Society for Underwater Archeology eV

Today the houses on stilts on the Rose Island are an important cultural heritage and part of the UNESCO World Heritage "Prehistoric Pile Dwellings around the Alps". The stilt houses are not open to the public , but boat trips are available around the island where the remains of the stilt houses can be viewed. The pile dwellings offer exceptional conservation conditions for organic materials such as wood, textiles, plant remains or bones.

Thanks to the extraordinary wealth of finds, the pile dwellings provide precise and detailed insights into the world of early European farmers - their everyday life, their agriculture, animal husbandry and technical inventions. Thanks to the extraordinarily precise dating of wood remains and wooden building elements (dendrochronology), complete prehistoric villages and their spatial development can be traced over a very long period of time.

What is there to see?

Rose Island Garden

The island was once used by the royal family as a place of privacy . It is also thanks to these noble previous owners that Peter Joseph Lenné, who was already involved in the design of the park of Sanssouci Palace , transformed the rose island into what it is today - a piece of paradise with a geometrically designed rose garden .

The former meeting point of well-known personalities such as King Ludwig II or Empress Sisi has had a magical attraction for centuries. King Ludwig II appreciates the seclusion of the island and receives numerous private guests such as Richard Wagner as well as selected state guests such as the Russian Tsarina Maria Alexandrovna. Ludwig also received his cousin, the Austrian Empress Elisabeth, on the island.

The gardens are filled to the brim with historic types of roses that shine with a new face every year. The flowers fascinate visitors, especially in summer. The main bloom begins in June on the plant-lined island. The second bloom sends its colorful splendor into the sky from August . During this time , "guided tours for all the senses" are regularly offered on the island.

"Casino" - registry office Feldafing

Among all the lilacs and roses, the casino stands out, which has nothing in common with a gambling hall . The architecture of the small house is deliberately reminiscent of Roman wall paintings depicting river gods and nymphs. Several balconies and terraces connect the garden and the building .

Today, the casino and the rose garden have largely been restored to their original condition and can be visited annually from 01.05. until 15.10. be visited. The registry office in Feldafing performs weddings in the historic rooms of the casino on Roseninsel.

Casino - registry office Feldafing on Roseninsel

Casino - registry office Feldafing on the rose island

Rose Garden on Rose Island

Rose garden on the rose island Source: Höck photography

The rose garden

Hundreds of high-stemmed fragrant roses gave the island its current name.
The rose garden has an elliptical shape . The roses are planted in such a way that the roses get taller and taller from the inside out .
It starts in the center around the glass column with bush roses , in the middle the roses rise until only standard roses have been planted in the outer area.

When planting the roses, care was taken to only use historical varieties . The play of colors includes all shades of red and pink .

Glass column in the rose garden

In the center of the rose garden is an approximately 5.50 m high white-blue glass column . It is crowned by a gilded cast zinc figure "Girl with Parrot". The column was a gift from King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia to his cousin Marie and her husband King Maximilian II on the occasion of the completion of the casino and the rose garden and stood in the middle of the rose garden until 1946 . After that, the column and figure were considered lost. When parts of the column were rediscovered in 1996 , they could be reconstructed, but the figure could not be found.

The fact that the figure could still be reconstructed was due to the fortunate circumstance that King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia had two more identical glass columns made , which are now in the Marly Garden of Potsdam's Sanssouci Park, and on the Zarininsel in the Kolonistenpark about 30 km from St. Petersburg stand. The girl with parrot figure was reshaped using the original plastic from Potsdam as a template.

In May 2001, the reconstructed column was set up again in the center of the rose garden

Glass column in the rose garden

Glass column in the rose garden Source: Höck Photography

The only departure point for the crossing to Rose Island is on 

Glockensteg in Feldafinger Park .

It is a 15-25 minute walk, depending on the car park.

About the author

It is more valuable to experience a place in detail than many small impressions of an incomprehensible whole.

Genius Loci - discovering, capturing and experiencing the spirit of a place. Perceive - understand - enjoy!

As a graduate industrial engineer with an additional MBA degree from a renowned university in England (EMBA, EQUIS and AACSB accredited), I have been showing other, often surprising, paths to success for more than 30 years at C-Level (Head of Marketing and Sales worldwide).

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