Probably the most beautiful historic paddle wheel steamer on the whole of the continent plies its way across Central Europe’s third largest inland lake with radiantly white awnings, polished brass and reflective mahogany and with teak and cherry wood fittings. The trade press have called it “Europe’s most superbly restored steamship” and it certainly symbolises all the craftsmanship of a long forgotten age. Each detail features masterpieces of art nouveau. Everything on board the Hohentwiel blends into an authentic whole. The completely faithful restoration recalls the steamship’s glorious heyday as a luxurious paddle steamer for crowned heads of state.
On 11 January 1913 the Hohentwiel was launched as the seventh steamship of the Royal Württemberg State Railways. Named after the eponymous fortress and volcanic cone of Hohentwiel near Singen, the paddle steamer mainly operated the longitudinal routes on Lake Constance from its home port of Friedrichshafen as of May 1913. The general public loved her and before long the Hohentwiel was one of the most prominent ships on Lake Constance. Count Zeppelin celebrated his birthday and Wilhelm II von Württemberg invited the King of Saxony to a nice excursion on board her.
During the Second World War only a few shipping routes remained open on Lake Constance from Friedrichshafen. On the night of 24 April 1944 Friedrichshafen, formerly the Hohentwiel’s home port, was bombed and left a smoking ruin. The Hohentwiel was just about to set out from Konstanz that day on its way to Friedrichshafen when she received a warning to stay where she was. Her sister ship, the Friedrichshafen, was completely destroyed that very same night. At the end of the war the only steamship remaining in Friedrichshafen was the Hohentwiel.
After a turbulent number of decades the Hohentwiel eventually cast anchor for what looked like the very last time. In 1962 it began to be used as a restaurant and clubhouse for the Bregenz Sailing Club. At the start of the 1980s the fate of the Hohentwiel seemed irrevocably sealed but against all the odds she was given a last-minute reprieve. In 1984 the “International Lake Constance Navigation Museum Club” acquired the steamer which by then was in serious need of renovation. With the aid of donations and the hard work and dedication of numerous club members and voluntary helpers former county commissioner Klaus Henninger from Lindau and marine engineer Reinhard E. Kloser managed to restore the Hohentwiel to its original condition.
State-of-the-art technology was incorporated into the historical fabric of the boat, each detail of which was perfectly restored. After six years of tireless research and restoration work the Hohentwiel was once again able to set off on her maiden voyage on 17 May 1990. People setting out on the Hohentwiel today move in a different age and are more than happy to turn their backs on the rest of the world for a few hours. With its elegant lines the Hohentwiel embodies the great functional and aesthetic quality of its age like few other historical ships. Traditionally made mahogany dinghies, spotlessly clean navigation lights, bronze reliefs with the Württemberg coat of arms and the sublime interiors all convey the incomparably distinguished atmosphere of the belle époque. You could scarcely wish for a more beautiful place to enjoy life out on the lake with friends.