Exploring the Fraueninsel in Bavaria, Germany

The south of Bavaria offers several beautiful lakes like the Tegernsee, Starnberger See or, my favorite, the Chiemsee. All are suitable for a daytrip from Munich, easily reached either by train or car.

I like the Chiemsee, because apart from the beauty of the lake surrounded by mountains, there are two islands to be enjoyed.  Each  is famous for something different. Herreninsel is the location of King Ludwig’s last dream castle and the Fraueninsel ‘s attractions are the Abtei, a very special kind of smoked fish and the works of several artists who have made their home on the island.

Departing with a ferry from the Fessler fleet, Prien is left behind and 20 minutes later the white washed walls of the Benediktiner Kloster rise out of the water, topped by a tower.

Fraueninsel and Abtei

Nuns have been living and working in the Abtei since it was founded by Duke Tassilo II of Bavaria in 782. They continue to do so today and maintain the cloister and themselves by offering spiritual retreats and talks and by running their cloister shop where they sell a well known – and quite strong – Klosterlikör, hand made marzipan often in the shape of Christina symbols, a wide variety of interesting books and their very own votive candles.

Handmade marzapan

In about 1 – 1 ½ hours at a leisurely path, you can walk around the entire island, it’s that small.

Romantic benches invite to a rest

Along the way you can rest on romantic benches overlooking the water and shaded by centuries old oak trees, or recharge batteries by stopping at one of several kiosks where you can sample a speciality which is only made on the island: smoked Renkenfilet. It’s a fish, similar to trout or mackerel, which is only found in the Chiemsee and the fishermen of the Fraueninsel have a secret and special way of smoking the filets. Served in a bun and topped with a mixture of cream and horseradish accompanied maybe by a beer which is also brewed in a tiny brewery on the island, you are fit to continue your stroll.

Smoked Renken filets

Which then leads to the artists and the potteries in particular. Three or four are located in one of the romantic island houses. Klampfleutner makes the most beautiful tiles and an example is even exhibited in the Heimatmuseum in Prien.  My eye was caught by the exceptional colors and subjects of another piece of pottery. A plate or bowl made to look like coral and an entire aquarium are works of art I have never seen elsewhere.

Ceramic bowl made to resemble coral

You can watch the artists at work and they are happy to explain their techniques. An  ideal place for a souvenir or a gift for friends at home. If you prefer paintings, you’ll also find an art gallery.

Returning back to the jetty, I visited the parts of the Abtei which are open to the public and the Klosterkirche where you can admire what’s known as Bayerischer Baroque in it’s most opulent form.

Ferries back to Prien or onwards to Herreninsel or else a roundtrip run every hour and, if needed, even more often.

Flagship of the Fessler fleet

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