ON THESE PAGES – WE HAVE SET DOWN SOME INFORMATION ABOUT SOME GREAT GERMAN CITIES THAT YOU MIGHT LIKE TO SEE – Stuttgart, Baden-Baden, Freiburg and the Black Forest.
Welcome to the heart of Engineering Excellence…
When people think of Germany, they think of great engineering and companies like Bosch, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, and certainly the city of Stuttgart is right in the heart of some of the world’s best engineering and scientific developments. It is in many ways more of a manufacturing and Business city than a tourist destination, but if you love cars and historic cars in particular, then you must visit the Mercedes Benz Car Museum and also the Porsche Museum that are both here in Stuttgart.
These museums are both outstanding.
For more information SEE the Car Museums of Germany pages on this website.
I have visited Stuttgart a number of times over the last few years in relation to the Tstix® invention that I created ( see www.tstix.com) and while the Tstix company is set up in Phoenix, Arizona, the technology involved (film substrates, packaging, production machinery and perforation technology) all came from Germany.
Stuttgart and much of this region was once the heart of the Swabian Dutchy that dates back to around 496AD in the Frankish Empire and still today there are around 800,000 or so Germans who still speak the Swabian language (Schwäbisch), though in most probability you won’t hear it spoken.
To give you a small indication of the differences between German and Schwäbisch, these are the numbers one to ten –
One - Eins in German is Null in Schwäbisch
Two – Zwei (G) and Oes(e) (S)
Three – Drei (G) and Droe(S)
Four – Vier (G) and Vier (S)
Five – Fünf (G) and Fümf (S)
Six – Sechs (G) and Sechs (S)
Seven – Sieben (G) and Siibe (S)
Eight – Aaht (G) and Acht (S)
Nine – Neun (G) and Noen (S)
Ten – Zehn (G) and Zaen (S)
So, while many German words are the same or slightly different to the Schwäbisch, there are many words that are entirely different. There is certainly a degree of pride in being Schwabian, just as people from Bavaria, may refer to themselve as coming from Bavaria, as much as from Germany.
Stuttgart is well serviced by autobahns, a big airport and trains with the Hauptbahnhof (main railway station) right in the centre of the city with trains that connect to all parts of Germany, as well as the S-Bahn and U-Bahn trains that travel to suburbs within greater Stuttgart. There is always a lot of road traffic, so definitely if you have a car, you will be using your SatNav GPS to get around.
Directly in front of the Hauptbahnhof is the main street of Stuttgart City – the KönigStrasse, a wide street with shops along both sides leading to the main Plaza – the Schlossplatz with its fountains, statue of Emperor Wilhelm I, the Wüttenberg Palace – Neues Schloss and the Kunstmuseum (Art Museum). Close by you will also find the Schlossgarten – Park with a lake in its centre.
There are lots of shops in and around the KönigStrasse and places to eat and stay in the city centre while in the summer months there will always be activity around the SchlossPlatz, with the Christmas Markets and even an Ice Rink (when I was there) set up in the winter time.
Besides seeing the Mercedes Benz and Porsche Museums, the place that I think has the most interest is the Residenzschloss Palace in the town of Ludwigsburg, about a 15 to 20 minute journey by S-Bahn (S-4 or S-5) away.
The Baroque style Palace is said to rival Versailles and was built first as a Hunting Lodge with construction finished in 1733. Here there are a total of 18 buildings with 452 rooms all inside a 32 hectare Park. The Residenzschloss Palace is open to the public year round and is one of the best Palaces to be seen in Germany, with its Baroque, Rococo and Neo-classical interiors. There are also 3 museums here now too – a Ceramics, Fashion and Baroque Gallery and the apartment rooms of Duke Carl Eugen with its gallery of paintings and amazing furniture. If you can look to see the Schlosstheatre – with its tiered galleries overlooking the central stage
The town of Ludwigsburg is a good place to stay and get the feel of a smaller town, with one of the most interesting places of interest being the Märchengarten (Fairy-tale garden) that is open in the summer months – with fairy tale sculptures of Snow White, Rapunsel and other characters. In the lead up to Christmas there is a great Christmas market here in Ludwigsburg too.
Baden-Baden is a Spa City located roughly an hour west of Stuttgart, close to the French Border. It has a population of around 50,000 people and its hot thermal springs have been used for over 2000 years from the first days of the Roman Empire.
With the water’s therapeutic properties, the city has been a popular destination for both the rich and famous as well as tourists who have come here to enjoy both the spa waters, thermal baths, wellness hotels, massages as well as the Spielbank Casino, Festspielhaus Opera House and Concert Hall.
The city is located on the Oos River set against a background of green forested hills and vineyards in the nearby valley slopes.
Baden- Baden is renowned for its beautiful gardens and trees along its streets and in the parks along Lichtentaler Allée, with roses, dahlias and other flowers being just some of the flowers that are grown here in abundance.
If you travel here, also look for the resort town of Neuweier and the wine villages of Umweg, Steinbach and Varnhalt, where you can enjoy some wine as well as the ambience of these German Villages. You might also want to do a walk along one of the many trails that take you to parts of the Black Forest. Just one such walk is the Panoramaweg, roughly 40 kilometres long that starts from Baden-Baden.
The University City of Freiburg is located in the Black Forest region of Germany, made infamous by Grimm’s Brothers Fairy Tales, and Black Forest Gateaux – a cake that has become famous around the world for its great chocolate taste.
Freiburg has a population of around 40,000 people with a student population of about 5000 people, so it has a young vibe, but also lots of history, the city dating back to the 12th century when the Donat Gate, Tower and walls protected the city. Those walls still surround the old city but the city is perhaps best known for its mining history, with underground miners in times past digging out tunnels in search of silver and other minerals. There is no mining carried out here now, but you can find tours of some of the old tunnels and if you visit the Freudenstein Castle, you will be able to see a vast array of different mineral and rock specimens from all over the world.
Just outside Freiburg is the area they call Schauinsland and there is a cable car Gondola ride, the Schauinslandbahn that takes you on a 20 minute, 3.6 kilometre journey close to the top of the mountains here, some 1284 metres above sea level. Here you will find great views over the Black Forest, vineyards and countryside, looking down onto the trees, their changing leaf colours in Autumn/Fall, sometimes the mists, and other times snow. There is a restaurant here too and walking trails – with a Silver Mine open in summer, a lookout tower, sightings of deer and an exciting downhill scooter ride course that you can take to head down on an 8 kilometre long thrill ride.
Here in the Black Forest region, there are many small villages and all have the charm and style that make travelling here so interesting. There are some towns and villages with Spa waters and wellness centres, others with their churches, chapels, half-wooden houses, cobbled streets, markets, and walking trails. If you like seeing spectacular waterfalls, look for the 97 metre high Todnauer Wasserfälle (Waterfall) or head to Triberg to see the cascade falls that drop down in seven stages around 160 metres or so. Triberg is also famous for its cuckoo clocks too.
If however you are after more action, then there are two Theme Parks close to Freiburg, the Steinwasen Park – which is small a 1 kilometre long toboggan ride and other rides as well as a zoo where you can see Marmots, Red Deer, Lynx, Racoons, Ibex and other animals. It is roughly 20 kilometres from Freiburg. A much bigger Theme Park, about 35 kilometres from Freiburg in the direction of Strasburg, is the Europa Park in Ringsheim. This Theme Park is one of the biggest in Europe and rivals Disneyland, near Paris in France in size.
The Black Forest region of Germany is a popular destination for Germans on vacation and if you enjoy nature and seeing pine forests, spruce trees and going hiking, then you will have a great time here. It is also close to both Switzerland and France too, with good rail and road connections to the cities and towns in the border regions, as well as Lake Constance (Konstenz) the third biggest lake in Europe, with its shores in Germany, Switzerland and also Austria.
For more information about Lake Constance and the sights there, look at the pages we have written – titled ‘Lake Konstanz, Stilt Houses, Zeppelins, Jigsaws’
I hope you have a great time seeing Germany.