Royal barges and the lake’s history

The permanent exhibition at Museum Starnberger See provides an insight into the region’s unique past. Arranged on a number of levels in the new museum building, the presentation primarily follows the history of boats and other vessels on Lake Starnberg. Ancient times and the early history of fishing are represented by an original dugout canoe of the type used on the lake by fishermen until the 19th century. The oldest dugout canoe found nearby dates to 900 BC.

The exhibition also spotlights the unique royal barges of the dukes and kings of Bavaria. Back in the 16th century, the lake served as a magnificent backdrop for glittering festivities and hunts that were organized by the Bavarian electors and were the talk of Europe. The Bavarian court maintained lavish boats and barges, sometimes even entire fleets, until the 20th century. They were built on Lake Starnberg and protected from the elements in boathouses, some of which are still preserved to this day.

Probably the most famous and largest of all Bavarian royal barges was the Bucentaur. Although it hasn’t been preserved, some items from the original as well as a model of the Bucentaur are on display. The centerpiece of the permanent exhibition is the only vessel from the royal fleet to have been completely preserved. It was built in 1837 for King Ludwig I and named the Delphin (The Dolphin) after the figurehead on the prow.

The permanent exhibition also looks at the construction of the railroad line and steamships as well as the origin and development of the villa estates around Lake Starnberg.