Wow! My first bike-tour of the year and I stumbled upon one of the crown jewels of Switzerland: Stein am Rhein!
Highlights: Arenenberg Napoleon Palace, Stein am Rhein (TOP, MUST SEE), Schaffhausen (& fortress)
Route 2: Section 6 (Kreuzlingen 400m-Schaffhausen 391m)
Stats from SwitzerlandMobility.ch (veloland.ch/en/routes/route/etappe-0923.html): 48km, height difference Kreuzlingen–Schaffhausen 170 m (180m in opposite direction). Their site has the full profile.
The road crisscrosses the border with Germany a few times. It shares its path also with Eurovelo route 15 and part of 6 (Stein am Rhein-Schaffausen)
DATE: April 2018e
The excitement of starting my bike season brought me to one of the farthest destinations, calling for an early rise and a 4-hour train ride. But this section along the German border and Rhine river was an ideal beginning, with minimal road elevation, beautiful landscapes and well preserved medieval towns with houses of timber-frames and painted facades.
I started in Kreuzlingen (canton of Thurgau, north-east Switzerland) on the northern shores of the Bodensee (or Lake Constance). I did not stop here since I had already strolled through the town exactly 1 year ago (see Route 2:05)
The first landmark on the road was the Napoleon castle/museum in Arenenberg (https://m.myswitzerland.com/en-ch/napoleon-museum-arenenberg-castle.html). This looks more like a large patrician villa than a castle. It is seen from the bike path and there are signposts. So I climbed the steep hill just to have a view of the gardens.
The actual palace is in the French Empire style, and it was bought and remodeled/furnished by the mother of Napoleon III, who also grew-up there. It contains exclusive furniture /decorations and beautiful gardens and is considered one of the best palaces on the lake.
Interestingly though, what catches the biker’s attention from the road is not the Napoleon palace but an impressive medieval tower/castle overlooking the lake. Unfortunately it is a private building so I could not enter it.
About half-way through the journey I arrived in the jewel-town of Stein am Rhein ( https://m.myswitzerland.com/en-ch/stein-am-rhein.html?lc=en&cc=ch )(https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stein_am_Rhein). In the distance, to the left, the privately-owned medieval fortress of Hohenklingen Castle overlooks the town and can be spotted from afar. It is off-path from the main trail, but if one has time, it offers a spectacular view.
Stein am Rhein, what a gem!! This must-see town sits across the banks of the Rhine river. It dates back to around the year 1,000, settled as a small fishing village in a strategic geographical position. It has a marvelous old square, lined with richly painted house, oriel windows and timber-framed buildings. Rightfully so, it is considered one of the best preserved medieval villages in German-Europe and it is definitely the prettiest small town I visited in Switzerland. The paintings on the facades are very elaborate, mostly with human figures, and are really impressive.
Another site worth visiting in this town is the former Benedictine Monastery of St Georgen (14th-16th century), now a museum, and includes a late-Gothic cloister and a Renaissance Hall (http://www.bundesmuseen.ch/klostermuseum/index.html?lang=en). Unfortunately I could not leave the bike behind so I skipped the visit.
Left Stein, the trail meanders back-and-forth into Germany until Schaffhausen.
This village is located on the river banks opposite to the bike path. So I biked across its 18th century covered bridge. In the village, there is an arched gateway, the Siegelturm, housing old seals and documents. One of the town’s landmarks is the tower clock with astronomical symbols.
Another landmark around here is the former St. Katharinental Dominican Abbey, which is considered a magnificent example of late Swiss baroque with an ornate organ, altars, and paintings. However, it was way off-path and I skipped it
I ended my trip at Schaffhausen (myswitzerland.com/en-ch/schaffhausen.html). Here I went up to the circular Munot fortress, located on a hill at the side of the old town. This fortress was built in 16th century on a design by Albrecht Dürer
The old center has some nicely decorated houses in the Gothic and Baroque style and some painted buildings with oriel windows. However, I feel that the buildings and the historic flavor has been ruined by all the modern shops along the streets.
In any case, Schaffhausen is one of the top tourist destination in Switzerland thanks to its majestic Falls (reason of its initial settlement), but these are further away and part of the next Section 2:07.
Links to Introduction and other sections:
- BIKING THROUGH SWITZERLAND (with an electric bike)
- Route 2: Section 1 – Andermatt to Disentis
- Route 2: Section 2 – Disentis to Chur
- Route 2: Section 3 – Chur to Buchs SG
- Route 2 (Rhine Route): Section 5 (St. Margrethen–Kreuzlingen)
- Route 2: Section 7 (Schaffhausen–Bad Zurzach)
- Route 2: Section 8 (Bad Zurzach–Rheinfelden)
- Route 2: Section 9/end – Rheinfelden to Basel