Amana Colonies

The Amana Colonies are a collection of seven villages in Eastern Iowa, founded by German settlers 150 years ago. The people in these villages actively maintain many of the cultural traditions of their ancestors. The Colonies are located just west of Iowa City along I-80. They are: Amana (also called Main Amana), East Amana, Homestead, Middle Amana, High Amana, West Amana, South Amana.

The Amana Colonies are about 25 miles northwest of Iowa City, 20 miles southwest of Cedar Rapids, 100 miles East of Des Moines and 250 miles west of Chicago.

Understand

In 1855, a group of German settlers decided to buy some 30 square miles (70 square kilometers) of land in eastern Iowa. These settlers, whose spirituality was marked by a strong belief in mysticism and communal life, sought to practice their religion in isolation. The Great Depression made it impossible for the villages to continue their isolation, and the Amana people voted to end their communal life and build economic ties with the outside world. To this day, residents still maintain some of the traditional industries—woolen textiles, meats and cheeses, furniture—that their ancestors brought over from Germany.

Talk

Everyone speaks English. Compared to the rest of the region, a greater proportion of residents have learned some German in school. Some of the oldest residents also speak an older form of German, derived from West Central German, called Amana German or Kolonie-Deutsch.

Get in

The nearest airport with scheduled passenger service is the Eastern Iowa Airport, which is located between Cedar Rapids and the Amana Colonies.

Get around

There is no public mass transit service, no bike rental, and no car rental service within the colonies. Transportation is by car, by joining a bus tour, by biking, or by walking.

Each of the villages is a couple of miles away from the next, originally making it about an hour's walk from one to the next. However, few people routinely walk or bike between villages now, except to follow the bike trail between Middle Amana and Main Amana. Within each small village, however, walking from one shop to the next is often the best choice.

See

Do

Buy

Main Amana, in particular, is home to many tourist-friendly shops selling art, antiques, clothing, and gifts.

Eat

One of the main attractions of the Amana Colonies are its restaurants, which usually feature old German recipes and family-style service. Several of these well-known restaurants are housed in former communal dining houses from the earlier period. Many attract bus tours from considerable distances for a meal in the Amana Colonies.

Drink

Although many restaurants offer beer and wine, there are few bars, no clubs, and little nightlife. However, there are several wineries and craft breweries.

Sleep

If you want to stay in the Amanas, there are many small bed and breakfasts available. Larger hotels are available in nearby cities such as Williamsburg and Cedar Rapids.

Go next

Routes through Amana Colonies

Des Moines Grinnell  W  E  Iowa City Davenport
Ends at W E  SW  NE  Cedar Rapids Dubuque


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, January 19, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.