An ivy-clad white tower with playful turrets and colourful roof tiles – the Thieves’ Tower may look romantic and inviting today, but in the past people preferred to avoid paying it a visit.
Behind the walls of the Thieves Tower
Built in 1380, the round tower served as the town prison for many years. With four storeys measuring eight metres in diameter, it was of course hardly a comfortable place to be.
While prisoners were meant to spend the time thinking about their morals, the guards were able to enjoy the fine view. Rising up from the Schrannenplatz, the island’s highest point, the 35-metre-tall Thieves’ Tower has always provided the best view over the town and its surroundings. The octagonal roof has four corner turrets looking out in all directions. The roof was renovated in 2013. 300 square metres of roof tiles were fired in the traditional way, glazed in 14 different colours and then installed on the roof. Even the bases of the turrets were spruced up under the expert supervision of conservation experts. They were painted crimson, a colour that was often used on Lindau’s buildings in the past.
The coloured roof of the Thieves Tower
The fact that the tower is even standing is thanks to master mason Johann Jacob Götzger from nearby Ravensburg, who saved it from being torn down when he bought it for 250 guilders in 1817. Götzger was also the saviour of the tower on the nearby Peterskirche, which was built in the year 1000 and is one of the oldest churches on Lake Constance. Along with the former bell foundry and armoury, the Peterskirche and Thieves’ Tower are picturesque remnants from medieval times.
Lindau’s former town prison was also known as the Malefiz Tower. The Latin word “maleficus” means wicked, evil-doing and godless, while “maleficium” means wrongdoing and criminality. So wrongdoers had to pay for their crimes in “Malefiz” towers such as Lindau’s Thieves’ Tower.