Stuttgart

A product of nature’s bounty and man’s intelligence and creativity, Stuttgart is the capital of Germany’s Baden-Württemberg state.

A lthough Stuttgart may loom less large than Germany’s other cities, the state of Baden-Württemburg is known as the country’s most popular touristic region, attracting around a million visitors every year. Besides its natural landscapes and impressive views, its spas fed by therapeutic thermal springs offer a clue as to why this region is favored for domestic tourism.

While nature’s offerings stand out in the city’s immediate environs, artistic and cultural productions draw attention in the city center. Not only draw attention but limn the city’s portrait. A product of nature’s bounty together with human intelligence, skill, elegance and creativity, Stuttgart is the capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg.

AN INDUSTRIAL TOWN
Stuttgart earned fame as the birthplace of two industrial products that changed the world: Gottlieb Daimler’s automobile engines and Robert Bosch’s spark plugs. Mercedes first started production here, setting up a factory in 1926, and the Mercedes star can still be seen today all over the city known as its home. The Mercedes-Benz Museum also attracts more visitors than any other in the city. Another museum that enhances Stuttgart’s image as an industrial capital is the Porsche Museum. The vehicles produced by the two firms throughout their history are on display at these museums, both of which have a capacity to more than please automobile buffs. 

But Stuttgart is not only an industrial city. It is also a city of parks and palaces, of art and architecture, of museums, of tasty food and nightlife, all of which add color and pleasure to the urban scene. More than anything, this small city of 600,000 is like an open air architectural museum where past and present overlap.

CITY SHAPED AROUND A PALACE
The Neues Schloss or New Palace, construction of which began in 1746, took sixty years to complete and is one of the finest examples of the Baroque style in the city. Damaged in parts during in World War II, it was later restored and given its present-day appearance. The former residence of the Württemburg kings, the building today houses the ministries of culture and economy.

The Schlossgarten or palace garden is another world with its pedestrian paths that wind amidst lush greenery and pools where swans glide, its street musicians and its modern statuary. Immediately adjacent to the garden is the palace square, known as Schlossplatz, in the center of which stands a column erected in 1840 in honor of Kaiser Wilhelm I. The statue of Concordia, the Roman goddess of peace, on the monument greets its surroundings as a virtual symbol of eternal peace and happiness. Meanwhile water flows continuously from the eight spouts of the two fountains on the same square, symbolizing the rivers of Baden-Württemburg state.

A meeting place for the city’s residents, Königsbau with its Ionic columns and Corinthian capitals brings to mind the temples of ancient Greece. Dating to 1860, this structure is a fine example of Neoclassicism, a popular architectural movement of the time. It’s possible in any case to see on the Schlossplatz modernistic buildings from the 1950’s alongside buildings in the Baroque, Art Nouveau and Neoclassical styles.

TRACES OF THE MEDIEVAL
In the center of another of the city’s squares, Schillerplatz, stands a statue of Friedrich Schiller, the 18th century German poet for whom the square is named.

The buildings around this square exhibit traces of medieval Stuttgart. The Collegiate Church in particular with its two 61-meter gothic towers is a striking example of medieval architecture. Another statue on this diminutive square is one of Bacchus next to the Musical Instruments Museum, pointing to the city’s long-standing tradition of viniculture.

MUSEUMS THAT RECOUNT THE PAST THROUGH ART
The Old and New State Galleries are the finest examples of the link between past and present in Stuttgart and the importance it is accorded. Built in 1838, the Old State Gallery offers visitors aesthetic pleasure in an historic venue. The gallery houses an extensive collection of paintings from the 14th through the 19th centuries, among them pencil drawings, watercolors, collages and prints by numerous painters including such masters as Rembrandt.

But the gallery’s most fascinating collection is that of paintings by artists from the state of  Baden-Württemburg. These canvases, exhibited in the ‘Swabian Classicism’ section, date mostly to the 19th century.

Added to the Old State Gallery in 1984, the New State Gallery was designed by the celebrated English architect James Stirling. Sparking controversy at the time it was built, the building today has become one of Stuttgart’s signature structures. The New Gallery is devoted entirely to twentieth century art and particularly to works of the post-war period. It must be regarded as a privilege to see in this relatively small European city paintings and sculptures in the classical modern and contemporary styles by such internationally famed artists as Picasso, Beckman and Beuys.

As you stroll through the city’s streets you may encounter modern buildings deftly scattered amidst the stylistically diverse historic structures. Like James Stirling’s New State Gallery, the Stuttgart Art Museum is another leading example of modern architecture in the city. Designed in the shape of a glass cube by Berlin’s famous architectural firm of Hascher-Jehle, this museum opened in 2005. With a library, bar and restaurant, the building, which houses works more of contemporary artists, invites art lovers to spend the entire day immersed in art without having to run around.

VINEYARD-COVERED HILLSIDES
Viniculture has been practiced and wine produced for centuries at Stuttgart with its gently sloping hills and temperate climate. Riesling grapes, one of the world’s best wine varieties, are grown in the vineyards that literally surround the city. The region’s wine tradition stretches back almost 600 years with around 500 types of grapes grown in the vicinity and many local wine factories. Light on the palate and with a refreshing bouquet, Riesling wines, which vary between golden yellow and greenish in color, are among the first flavors that come to mind at the mention of Stuttgart.
Enhancing is beauty by taking good care of its long-standing cultural and architectural heritage, Stuttgart is also shaping its future by bringing that heritage up to the present with its museums, palaces and art.

Its identity as an industrial city notwithstanding, Stuttgart heads the list of Europe’s greenest cities. Together with nature and urban life, art and industry have existed here side by side for centuries, adding life and color to the city.