Stuttgart is the 6th largest city in Germany and has a population of over 600,000 people. The name Stuttgart comes from Stutengarden which was the name of a stud farm belonging to Herzog Luidolf dating back to the mid 10th century where he bred his horses.
This once unknown settlement soon grew into the town known as Stutkarten. Thereafter it gained popularity following the building of a castle and moat in the 13th century for the Count of Württemberg and other succeeding counts and dukes throughout the medieval period.
The resultant increased population during this period soon provided Stuttgart with a city status first mentioned in 1229. The castle was then converted into the Renaissance style in the 1500s. Following the industrial revolution in the 19th century Stuttgart became a boom town and a hub for major industry and commerce.
Stuttgart lies in the south west of Germany and is beautifully situated in the flat Neckar Valley between thickly forested hills, surrounded by vineyards and several parklands, making it one of Germany’s greenest cities to enjoy. This lovely location is also famous for the largest mineral water fountains found in Western Europe.
Map of Stuttgart
During World War II, Stuttgart was heavily bombed and devastated by massive air raids, however the city was rebuilt after the war, and in 1952 became the state capital of Baden- Württemberg.
Its most famous industry is motor vehicles. Here you will find the headquarters of Germany’s upmarket vehicles – Mercedes Benz and the exclusive Porsche cars. Both of these companies have their own car museums in the city. Besides being an industrial city Stuttgart is also known as the cultural city best known for its ballet, art and opera.
Another important industry is of course, its local wine. The vast vineyards spread around Stuttgart makes this region a commercially success.
Best time to go
Due to its geographical position Stuttgart is in one of the warmest regions in Germany and has a relatively mild climate throughout the year thanks to Stuttgart being located in a wide valley and protected from all sides by the Stromberg and Heuchelberg regions to the northwest, the Swabian Alb to the south, the Black Forest to the west and the Schurwald to the east. It’s therefore thanks to all these combined elements that the wine industry is able to thrive so well here.
The best time to visit Stuttgart is undoubtedly from May to October as these are the warmest months, with July being the hottest having an average temperature of approximately 19°C (66°F). The temperatures are pleasant and never get too hot unlike southern Europe where the extreme heat can become unbearably unpleasant. The air is clear and bright and perfect for sightseeing. The evenings can be cool, but generally very calm.
The winter months can get rather cold with large snowfalls, although these do not last for any length of time. The coldest month is January with an average temperature of 1.3°C (34°F).
Getting Around in Stuttgart
Stuttgart Airport is an international airport and is situated 13 km south of the city center. It has four main terminals, all of which are easily accessible to each other. Major airlines such as Lufthansa, Air France, and British Airways serve this airport from major cities throughout Europe. There are also regular local airline flights such as HLX, Air Berlin and LGW Airline connecting Stuttgart with various airports across Germany.
The S-Bahn train is frequently run from Terminal 1 and will take about 30 minutes to reach the city center. Tickets can be bought from machines above the railway platform as well underneath the airport but these tickets must be validated at one of the orange boxes located on the platform before you are able to board the train.
Alternatively, there is a regular bus service linking the airport to various points all over the city. The buses depart from the airport at Terminal 1 Arrivals.
Taxis from Terminal 1 (Level 3) in Departures will get you into the city in about 20 minutes and are in operation throughout the day and night.
If you do not wish to rely on public transport or taxis while staying in Stuttgart then hiring a car will give you the freedom of travel. Car hire companies can be found at Terminal 3 Level 2.
Major Attractions and Sights
As previously mentioned, Stuttgart boasts two car museums. At the entrance of the Mercedes Benz Museum shuttle will convey you inside to where you will be transported through the ages and 1500 exhibits on display – from the world’s first car to the latest in vehicle design technology. Also on display are the cars produced by Daimler-Benz, as well as their other vehicles such as buses, airplanes and motorboats. You will be entranced throughout your journey taken back in time, even those who are not particularly enthusiastic about cars. It is open every day except Mondays and entry is free.
The Porsche Museum is not quite as popular but is still worth a visit. Inside you will find all the Porsche models from its earliest built vehicles to their latest models, including Hitler’s ‘people’s car’ that he famously commissioned the company to build – the Volkswagen. Visitors are able to join the daily guided tours as well as watching the workers as they work on their production lines.
Another point of local interest is the Stiftskirche which is famed for its beautiful Renaissance sculpture works. The walls around the choir have a ‘portrait gallery’ of many of the past counts and dukes of Württemberg. The church can be found in the medieval town square of Shillerplatz.
For those requiring more of a cultural activity then a visit to the architecturally beautiful Landesmuseum is an excellent choice. The highlight is certainly the spectacular treasure trove of the Württemberg royal family‘s crown jewels. And also on display are the many fascinating exhibits and sculptures from various ages of the region especially from the Bronze, Trojan, Roman, Celtic and Frankish periods.
Staying with culture, perhaps a visit to the famous Staatsgalerie where some of Germany’s best artwork is housed. Paintings range from the modern and avant-garde, to many of the old Renaissance masters such as Rembrandt; one of which is his ‘Tobit Healing his Father’s Blindness’. There is also a very large collection of Picasso’s artworks on display. A section of the Staatsgalerie has been set aside for a magnificent collection of the history of German art.
Despite the wartime destruction, a number of significant architectural features survived. A walking tour of the city will show you places of interest such as the Wilhelmpalais (King William’s Palace), Alte Kanzlei (Old Chancellery),Markthalle (Market Hall), Schloss Solitude, Stiftfruckasten (Collegiate Storehouse) and Grabkapelle Württemberg (burial chapel).
The best open spaces include the Schlossplatz and Marktplatz, and there are also the pretty gardens of Akademiegarten (Academy Gardens) and Schlossgarten( Palace Gardens).
For a unique way to view Stuttgart, take a trip to the Birenkopf. It is the highest point in the city and is a memorial to those casualties of the war, built from 15 million cubic meters of rubble.
On the northern outskirts of Stuttgart is the wonderful Zoo Wilhelmina. The building was originally built as a palace for the royals but has now been converted into a home for many of the world’s animals and reptiles, ranging from the exotic to the most common of our creatures. The zoo is well known for its magnificent magnolia trees. As this zoo is extremely popular with locals and tourists it does tend to get very crowded at weekends and holiday time. For easy convenience to zoo take the U12 tram from the city centre.