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  • Writer's pictureRita Zurcher

Undosa: The Wave Kingdom

Updated: Sep 24, 2019

Starnberg, a Bavarian lakeside resort popular with summertime visitors from Munich boasts the first twentieth-century wave pool. It was built in 1905 next to Lake Starnberg, the very lake where King Ludwig II of Bavaria may have built his own waves and met his demise.

Known as the Undosa, Latin for "the wave knigdom," it was a basin that extended into the lake some 60x15 meters (appox, 197x48 feet) . The machine hall sat atop the complex and the roof served as a sun terrace.

Powered by steam, large pontoons pulled up the water, and pushed it up and out. The displacement of the water created waves and even the sound of waves crashing. The illusion of an ocean setting was reinforced was the addition of a beach created from imported sand. A 10-meter diving tower at the end of the basin completed the complex. The resort was geared to an affluent clientel.

The wave machine was plagued by mechanical problems and the high repair costs led to it being decommissioned and demolished in 1921. The swimming basin however remained, first complemented by a restaurant and ballroom in 1925. The wave-less Undosa finally closed in 1978 and was demolished in 1981. Today only the restaurant remains.


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