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More than Beer, Benz and Sauerkraut ?
Member Name: Fritzthecat
Advantages: Lots to see and do, especially when there's a festival happening
Disadvantages: none really
Baden -Wuerttemberg itself was founded in 1952 and is a federation of the former duchy of Baden, the duchy of Hohenzollern and the former kingdom of Wuerttemberg.
Now for all these, who don't know were on earth this place might be found on the map:
Baden-Wuerttemberg is in the south-west of Germany, bordering to France in the west and Switzerland in the south.
The natives of Stuttgart are called Schwaben (Swabians). You can recognize them easily as soon as they open their mouth: The Swabians have a very strong dialect and even if you've learned German to a higher degree you might still find it hard to understand.
It seems to have effect on the way in which I am speaking your language too, as I have often heard comments about my "odd" accent, which many couldn't identify as German or generally European, at all.
Most of the younger generations and many of the older, are able to speak at least some English, so you shouldn't have too many problems with the language.
Stuttgart itself seems to the visitor often rather small and very green. The heart of the town is situated in a valley, nestled within lots of hills, so that you might not recognize at first how far it spreads beyond these.
There are some very pretty and huge parks in the middle of the city, some of which float into another and so create a green-belt in the middle of the city, which mounts up to many kilometres and mercifully they haven't forgotten to put the odd beer-garden in between.
Now, you might not fancy a massive hours-long walk through greeneries, so I'll concentrate on the more important issues for the occasional visitor.
As you all will have different interests, I'll try to find something for everyone, while we are on our journey to discover my hometown.
The trip might take a bit, this is a very long review, so if you are willing to come with me you'll better get yourself a cup of tea/coffee...
Your main feature for a visit to Stuttgart will probably be the main station as nearly all the relevant tram, over - and underground lines are passing from here, as well as the railway.
The Hauptbahnhof, as the main station is called, is a quite prominent feature of the city with its tower that bears a rotating Mercedes Star on the top.
Yes, for all those who haven't known so far, Stuttgart is the home of Mercedes.
Also of Porsche and Bosch, and you might start to guess why Stuttgart is one of the richest areas in Germany.
To get an idea about the history of the city and the region, I would suggest to start with a visit to the Old Castle ( Altes Schloss).
To reach it we can forget about the public transport, we just follow the pedestrian zone in front of the Hauptbahnhof, Koenigstrasse it is called and signed out, until we reach the Schlossplatz (Castle-place). This shouldn't take too long, 5 minutes I would say, unless you want to stop in some of the shops. I'd rather leave it for later as we don't want to carry our shopping bags for the rest of the day.
You might like to stop every now and then to watch the various street-musicians and artists though. Some of them are quite interesting and I always loved them. Don't waste your time on the architecture ! Stuttgart has been nearly totally destroyed during WW2 and the buildings that have been erected here are disgraceful concrete monstrosities. A real eye-sore.
When reaching the Schlossplatz we'll have a look around for a minute.
There will be two castles, so lets first have a look at the baroque style one that will be to your left.
This one is called Neues Schloss (New Castle). It was build for Duke Karl Eugen, the work on the building started 1746 and lasted for 40 years.
The castle was designed by the Italian architect Leopold Retti and it is huge. Now Stuttgart at that time was a very provincial city (some say it still is) and it must have looked very out of proportion then. Duke Karl Eugen had big plans and the Neues Schloss was only the beginning and several, also generously sized, gardens and parks followed. The good old duke certainly had an issue with size - I wonder what Freud would had made out of that...
In 1944 it was destroyed completely - like every other building around - and only a few of the foundations survived. It's outer shell is the exact replica of the original, while the inside of the castle has been totally remodelled. It contains now, apart from the replica of the Marble Hall and the White Hall , which are mainly used for representation in case an important foreign visitor shows up, a complex of modern office rooms, which belong to the Treasury of Baden-Wuerttemberg.
You still might like to take a picture and then, before we continue our trip to the Altes Schloss, which you will have spotted by now, we will have a quick look at our right:
You'll see something that resembles an old Grecian temple with massive columns.
This strange building is called Koenigsbau (King's Building) and was erected to commemorate the 25.Jubilee of King Wilhelm I.
Once known as "the big bazaar", it is now home to the Stuttgarts stock exchange and a few shops and cafes.
Attached to it is the worst monstrosity of all, a concrete platform that was constructed to regulate the traffic. It is called the Kleiner Schlossplatz (Small Castleplace) and is accessible over a wide staircase, that is usually filled with teenagers, punks and Japanese Tourists. Recently an art gallery has been build up there but I cannot comment on its interiors as I haven't been inside.
It's time now to concentrate on the Altes Schloss.
Originally it was a moated castle, that dates back to the 10th century. It was altered, extended and refurbished several times over the centuries, in 1931 it nearly burned down and after WW2 not much was left. Soon after the war, the works to rebuilt it started and lasted well into the mid-fifties.
Since 1971 it is the Museum of the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg (Landesmuseum) and this it what we came for. We won't enter it through it's side entrance, that faces towards the Neues Schloss, but from the main entrance.
You reach this over the Schillerplatz, which is very delightful if it is a market day (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday), as you can find the flower-market here.
If not it is still nice enough, with the monument of Friedrich Schiller prominently in the middle and the Alte Kanzlei (old Chancellery) , now a restaurant with a nice beer-garden overlooking the scenery, the Prinzenbau ( Prince's building) right opposite of Daddy's dwelling, the Fruchtkasten, which was used to store wine (probably favoured tipple of both just named) and the Stiftskirche, a church.
After passing through the entrance we will find us in the inner courtyard. The entrance to the museum is right in front of us.
The museum itself has a remarkable collection of nearly every item that could be of any significance to the history of the state. It ranges from coins, sculptures, clothes, toys, clocks and scientific instruments, to china, furniture, paintings and armour and the oldest remaining deck of cards in Europe.
Finally, high up in one of the round towers, we will see the crown jewels of the Royal House of Baden-Wuerttemberg.
I have visited the museum often and never found it crowded, so we will be able to inspect everything that interests us peacefully and at our pace, without being pushed or having to queue up.
It is open from Tuesday - Sunday. Admission for adults is 3.00 , Disabled 2.00 , Kids under 14 go free.
After leaving the castle we will have a quick look into the Stiftskirche.
It was donated to the city of Stuttgart by Earl Ulrich I and became later the burial place of the Earls of Wuerttemberg. Ulrich I. and his wife Agnes are buried here.
From inside it is not as interesting as it seems to be after judging its exterior and we won't stay for very long.
Probably we will be hungry by now and there are many restaurants around. Of course I am not going to name them all, just 3 ideas how and where to spend our lunch break.
The first one takes us straight back to the Kleine Schlossplatz. Remember, the one with the stairs ? The restaurant is right under it and it is called Ochs'n Willy.
This is a steak-house with a quite big menu and they also offer some traditional dishes from the area such as Kaesspaetzle (Egg-pasta, baked with cheese) . They always have a lunch menu with very reasonable prices and the overall quality of food and service is good and they do have English menus too. Which can't be said about too many restaurants around.
The second one is a vegetarian restaurant that is called IDEN.
They can be found at Eberhardstr 1, not far from the Town Hall.
They offer a huge salad buffet with various dressings - the best I've ever seen - a good assortment of main courses and desserts and I have never heard any complaints about the food, not even from the most self-defined meat lovers. It does lack a lot in flair and is self-service, but the quality of the food is worth to give it a try.
The third option would be, preferably on a sunny day, to turn left when leaving the church, and pay a visit to the Markthalle (Market Hall).
This is an indoor market with food specialities from all over the world and, when I was working nearby, I often went there to get some fresh bread, cheese, olives and fruit for my lunch. I usually took it to the park in front of the New Castle and had a picnic there, which is exactly what I wanted to suggest for our lunch.
Just to walk around and smell the aroma of the foods and spices will probably make everyone feel hungry. The building itself is nice too, art nouveau style with a slightly rounded roof with inset glass windows. Even if you don't want to do any shopping there, its worth to go and have a look - or smell!
After the break we're straight of to see the Staatsgalerie (Gallery of the State).
The Staatsgalerie is divided in two sections, which can be found in connecting buildings.
To the left is the older part, which was build between 1838 and 1842. The old gallery (Alte Staatsgalerie) exhibits works from Rembrand, Frans Hals, Peter Paul Rubens, Capaccio, Albrecht Duerer, Lucas Cranach and many others.
The new gallery is a post-modern building that is seen as one of the highlights in Stuttgarts architecture.
It was build by the English architect James Stirling and opened in 1984.
I was 16 then and remember how we were taken there for a compulsory visit - a bunch of teenagers giggling at a masterpiece that consisted of a huge red canvas (which covered a whole wall !).
I fear that my understanding for modern art is still as underdeveloped as then. All those, who are less barbaric in their views about modern art will surely enjoy their time there, admiring the biggest Picasso collection in Germany and works by other famous artists such as Renoir, Cezanne, Matisse, Kandinsky, Otto Dix and Anselm Kiefer.
The Staatsgalerie is open from Tue/Wed/Fr/Sa/Sun from 10 -18 and Thur from 10 - 21
Admission is free on Wednesdays, otherwise 4.50. Children under 12 go free.
Adress is Konrad Adenauer Strasse 30, to reach by public transport with lines U1,U4,U9,U14
By walk : behind the New Castle and Theatre, or when leaving the main station to the left
If you also think that your 3 year old makes better pictures then the ones in the gallery, then you can join me on a trip to the Frensehturm (TV-tower).
To reach this, we'll have to take either U 7, U8 or Tram 15. The stop is Ruhbank.
The TV tower in Stuttgart might not be the highest in the world, it measures 656 ft, but it is, being opened in 1956, the oldest.
There's a visitors platform up there, from where you will have, depending on the weather conditions of course, the best outlook over Stuttgart and the surrounding area. If you are lucky and it is very clear you might even spot Lake Constance, the Bodensee. There is also a restaurant, which makes a lovely background for a romantic dinner.
Admission is 3 for adults,2 for kids from 3 - 13
If all of this is not to your liking or you have more time to spare, then there is more to see.
Why don't we go and see some animals ?
Let's start with those that have been dead for a while...
We will take the U15 until Loewentor and follow the sign to Rosensteinmuseum.
The Museum follows the history of the earth back to 600 million years ago, and fossils, skeletons of Dinosaurs and the skull of a primitive men (Steinheimer) are on display.
This is another place, which I have visited on school-trips and I always found it fascinating.
There are enough activities to keep small visitors busy and our children, tiny as they are, made big eyes when they met their first live-size dino.
Admission for adults is 3.- and children over 6 years pay 1.50
After leaving the museum we take a short stroll through the park and follow the signs that show Wilhelma.
The Wilhelma is the zoological and botanical garden of Stuttgart.
Now this is a place, where I must have been nearly a hundred times and still love to come back.
The Wilhema is named after King Wilhelm I. of Wuerttemberg, who, in 1850, gave the order to have a summerhouse with a moorish-style garden build on the spot where you can find the Wilhelma now.
Since the 1950's it contains also a zoo and by now is home to around 10.000 animals of 1.000 various species. The botanical garden contains a collection of 5.000 different species. Both, animals and plants, cover a section from all climatic zones.
There are various shows, which are signed out with timetables, such as feeding the see-lions, the penguins and elephants... These can get very crowded, especially on a nice and sunny weekend day.
If travelling with children, the Wilhelma is a great place for a day out. There are some playgrounds too, as well as several baby-changing stations. The Wilhelma is quite big, so plan enough time and don't forget to bring a stroller for smaller children, as I do not think that you can hire them there.
There are possibilities to rent wheelchairs at the main entrance.
There are restaurants, but again these can get very busy, especially lunch-time, and you might like to bring a small snack with you and postpone your lunch until after 14.00 when it gets a bit calmer.
There are different entrance prices for summer and winter.
Adults pay 10.80 (S) and 7.40 (W)
Children over 6 years 5.40 (S) and 3.70 (W)
Family-tickets are available
The botanical garden and the zoo can't be seen separately, you'll have to pay for both of them, whether you want to see both or not.
With public transport you take the U 14 until Wilhelma.
With Stuttgart being the home of Mercedes and Porsche there is, of course, also something for the car freaks out there.
Both companies have museums of which I have only visited the Mercedes museum, which is located in the companies factory in Untertuerkheim.
I am not exactly interested in cars and certainly not very knowledgeable about them but even I was impressed at how they show the development of the automotive.
I loved the older models that look really quirky but can't relate to the newer ones or the formula I models they show. And the various engines they had on exhibit didn't tell me anything apart from the fact that they are a mystery to me.
My husband loved it and spend a lot of time photographing the cars while the kids and me where already sitting in the cafe. There is also a small gift shop which provided us with some toys to keep the girls busy until daddy had finished admiring the cars.
You can reach there with the U 11 until Schleyerhalle, from there on you'll take the little courtesy bus that Mercedes provides and will be dropped you right at the entrance of the museum.
The museum is open daily from 9.00-17.00 apart from Monday.
Admission is Free.
I hope everybody has found something to do throughout the day, so lets see what can be done in the evening.
Finding a restaurant in Stuttgart shouldn't be too hard as there are plenty, local cuisine and everything else from around the globe is catered for, so all that's left to do is how to spend the rest of the evening.
So why not try the Stuttgart Ballet ?
The Grosses Haus (Opera and Ballet) and the Kleines Haus (Drama) are a complex of two buildings which can be found in the Schlosspark behind the New Castle to the left hand side, right behind the lake. In the evening the illumination is beautiful.
With public transport you can reach it with U1,U2, U4,U9,U14 , station is Staatsgallerie.
When the South-African born Brit John Cranko left London's Saddlers Wells Theatre in 1960 to take over the Stuttgart Ballet, nobody would have guessed just how successful he would be. Within a short time he managed to establish his troupe, which included the dancers Marcia Haydee, Margot Fonteyn and Richard Cragun ,as one of the best in the world. For Ballet-fans this would certainly be a wonderful opportunity to see a performance during their stay in Stuttgart.
Tickets can be ordered before through www.staatstheater.stuttgart.de
For those who would like to visit the burial site of John Cranko : It can be found at the small cemetery, that belongs to Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart-Weilimdorf.
U6 until Bergheimer Hof and then a long walk up the hill to the castle.
If you don't like ballet, then you can always go to one or more of the numerous pubs and try some of the local beer. My favourite here would be the Stuttgarter Hofbraeu, but there are so many brands to try that you best check them out yourself.
The last thing to mention now would be the festivals/events.
Stuttgart has plenty of them and I will only name the most important ones of them. If you would like to visit any of them, a well advanced booking might be advisable, as they have many of visitors from all over the world and hotel-rooms might be bit harder to find as usual.
The most famous one will probably be the Volksfest ( peoples festival).
It usually happens end of September/beginning of October.
The Volksfest is a huge fun-fair with a small market, where you can find things like clothing, household items and souvenirs, lots of beer-tents, some of which can hold up to 5000 people, and fairground-rides for all age groups. Some of the rides do require a certain amount of bravery and I wouldn't recommend to obtain it through a prolonged visit in the tents, as they already are stomach-turning enough while being sober.
The beer in the tents is sold in 1-litre stein-tankards which are awfully heavy and I always struggle with the first sibs when the thing is still totally full. I absolutely admire the waitresses who are able to carry 7-10 of them in each hand.
If you plan to visit on a weekend and especially with a bigger group, I would recommend to reserve a table.
This can be done through www.canstatter-volksfest.de
The Volksfest is located at the Canstatter Wasen, which can be reached by S1 and S3 and the U11 which is called Volksfestlinie.
The Volksfest exists also in a smaller version, which is called Fruehlingsfest (Spring Festival).
It usually starts mid-April and lasts for three weeks.
Generally it is the same as the Volksfest, just with less rides and stalls and smaller beer-tents. It is still impressive enough and well worth a visit. The location is the same as for the Volksfest.
My favourite festival is the Weindorf (Wine Village).
This festival is, easy guess, dedicated to the wine of the region. It is conveniently situated in the heart of the city, with stalls reaching from Schillerplatz, in front of the Old Castle, all the way down to the Rathausplatz. There are around 120 wooden huts, most lovingly decorated, which provide in- and outside sitting areas - and they give the festival a quite rustic touch. There are around 250 different wines to be tasted each year.
To do so you'll have to buy your own glass which is yours to keep as a souvenir or can be given back at the end of your visit. Each hut has glasses with the owners own logo and they do make a nice collection, if you manage to sample drinks from various huts that is. I do have nearly one cup-board full - which took me some years of sampling.
Each hut also serves hot and cold food. These are usually local dishes and you'll certainly find the infamous sauerkraut here (but also much more palatable dishes) and I always like to have a cheese-plate with the wine.
The Weindorf is always starting in the last week in August and lasts for two weeks.
The Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas-market) starts end of November and lasts until 23. December.
Although not as famous as the Christkindlmarkt in Nuernberg, in my opinion the more attractive one. There are around 200 stalls, again in the same area as the Weindorf, from Schillerplatz down to the Rathausplatz, but also on the Schlossplatz, where you can find the children's market with some rides and the candle-market.
Apart from various eateries (don't forget to sample the hot spiced wine, if you don't like it is still good to warm up your hands) the stalls offer toys, clothing, household items, seasonal sweets and Christmas decoration. Especially the Christmas decoration is often hand-made and therefore a bit more expensive then the one from Tesco, but you can be sure that the item you have bought is unique and really something special.
The stalls themselves are worth a closer examination as all of them are extremely beautiful decorated.
There are, of course, several other big festivals, museums and attractions in Stuttgart, but these are the main ones for me and, as it is my review, the ones being mentioned here.
If you would like to have some more information concerning dates of events or help with finding the right hotel then visit:
Thanks for staying with me until here, hope you enjoyed it , Sandra
Summary: Everybody could find something of interest here