An idyllic Biedermeier-era treasure on Lake Constance

Meersburg Prince’s Little House

Meersburg Prince's Little House; image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Bernhard Wrobel
From garden house to literary destination

Milestones

Pure coincidence: The garden house survived for centuries, likely only due to the fact that a woman purchased the property in the 19th century because she liked its vineyards. The new owner, a famous poet, is the reason the house was finally preserved as Droste-Hülshoff's place—pure luck.

Portrait of Jakob Fugger, Prince-Bishop of Constance, oil on wood, 17th century; image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, credit unknown

A fan of the view across Lake Constance: Jakob Fugger.

Canon as builder

Jakob Fugger (1567–1626) was a man of the church whose career took off. Shortly before becoming the Prince-Bishop of Constance, he commissioned the construction of the garden house, designed with many windows and a wide panoramic view, nestled amongst the vineyards above Meersburg. That was more than four centuries ago. He was clearly impressed with the view, which reaches all the way to the Alps.

Photograph of the Prince's Little House, Annette von Droste-Hülshoff's niece in the doorway; Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

The heirs: her nieces, Hildegard and Hildegund von Laßberg.

The Prince's Little House changes owners

Two centuries later, in 1803, the time of prince-bishops came to an end, and their holdings in Meersburg were transferred to the Margraves of Baden. Royalty no longer resided in the palace, and there was no longer a need for a "Prince's Little House." The poet Annette von Droste-Hülshoff purchased the bright house and surrounding vineyards for herself, to have a place of her own, and to have something to pass down.

Meersburg Prince's Little House, drawing by Leonhard Hohbach, 1846; image: Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Steffen Hauswirth

Picturesque setting among the vines: the Prince's Little House.

A poet's excitement

Annette von Droste-Hülshoff was excited about her acquisition and wrote about the Prince's Little House in many letters. She named the room on the top floor "the swallow's nest." The poet raved about her good luck, the shimmering lake and her view of the Swiss Alps. This is where she wanted to live; this was her favorite place.

Meersburg Prince's Little House, office in the swallow's nest; image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Carla Mueller

In the swallow's nest.

The Prince's Little House becomes a museum

Annette von Droste-Hülshoff enjoyed three long stays in Meersburg, but died in 1848, at the age of 51. The Prince's Little House has benefited from her fame, and continues to do so. The poet's heirs arranged the Prince's Little House the way she would have and saved many family pieces for posterity. Not only has the house been maintained for generations; in 1923 it was turned into a museum.

Meersburg Prince's Little House, visitors room; image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Carla Mueller

The redesigned visiting area in the Prince's Little House.

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