Tucked away in a four-country corner consisting of Austria, Germany, Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein, the Bodensee-Vorarlberg region has a proud identity and a daring imagination. The old adage that ‘opposites attract’ might as well have originated here, as an extraordinary blend of old and new come together in this westernmost part of Austria. The cities of the region – Bregenz, Dornbirn, Hohenems and Feldkirch – combine rural idyll with urban flair, and although uniquely influenced by the Vorarlberg’s geographic crossroads, they remain defiantly distinct in identity, even within Austria itself.
Architecture and Design: A Dichotomy of Old and New
The region has firmly established itself as a leader in innovative architecture. Structures of glass, steel, and concrete astonishingly find their place among more traditional wooden buildings, and even enhance older existing buildings with contemporary additions. Visitors taking just a simple stroll in the natural landscape will be pleasantly surprised at the subtlety of these testaments of modern design, as it all just fits in and strangely makes sense. The area is furthermore a trailblazer in renewable energy sources and passive energy building.
When it comes to culture, Bregenz, the region’s capital, certainly hits the cultural nail on the head. The Bregenz Festival brings together the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, performers, and directors to produce the finest in modern entertainment. A hi-tech floating stage on Lake Constance has become a platform for some of the world’s most distinguished operas and this year Mozart's ‘The Magic Flute’ (July/Aug) takes floating centre stage. As well as the festival’s staggering feats of set design, Lake Constance provides an inspiring backdrop for each show. Scenic sunsets, ominous clouds or misty evenings only add to spectacle for the audience seated on the lake’s shoreline.
Cuisine Du Jour
As with most facets of Vorarlberg, contradiction can even be found at mealtime. Whilst most cuisine in restaurants is traditional, you will discover that it is complemented with startlingly modern and classic fare. The region is packed with high-quality restaurants, many of which are very fresh in style and 19 which bear the prestigious Gault-Millau distinction. Known for its fine schnapps, be sure to visit award-winning distillers like Freihof Destillerie in beautiful Lustenau, Albert Büchele’s Michelehof Distillery, or go to the village of Fraxern to taste the unique and delicious ‘Fraxner Kriase’ cherry schnapps. The cultural and culinary scene on the Austrian side of Lake Constance draws attention way beyond its borders. The fresh, modern imagination of the region and its inhabitants make it an inspiring place to explore.