For three days we took our time to explore the most famous sights and photo spots of Stuttgart. The city on the Neckar enchants with its special location in a valley basin on the northeastern edge of the Black Forest, the oldest television tower in the world, several castles, the longest pedestrian zone in Germany and, of course, the invention of the automobile.
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Things to know about Stuttgart
Stuttgart is the capital of the federal state of Baden-Württemberg and has around 600,000 inhabitants. This makes it the sixth largest city in Germany after Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Cologne and Frankfurt.
Stuttgart can look back on a long tradition. The name of the town comes from the stud farm “Stutengarten”, which Duke Luidolf of Swabia had built around 950 in the area around today’s collegiate church. Even today, the city’s coat of arms with a black horse on a yellow background reminds of the origin of the city. Stuttgart was first mentioned in a document around the year 1160 and in 1220 the place received the town rights. From the 15th century onwards, dukes, later electors and from 1806 the kings of Württemberg lived here.
Due to its location in a valley basin, the “Stuttgarter Kessel”, the cityscape is characterized by the many hills, vineyards and valleys. Worldwide, Stuttgart is best known as the home and headquarters of the German automotive companies Daimler and Porsche. But the world’s first Waldorf school was also founded here. The Cannstatter Wasen is the second largest folk festival in Germany after the Oktoberfest and attracts more than four million visitors every year.
Our Hotel Premier Inn Feuerbach
For three nights we stayed at the Hotel Premier Inn, which is located in the district of Stuttgart-Feuerbach. The hotel impresses with its brilliant location, because it is located directly at the underground station Sieglestraße, so that you can easily reach Stuttgart city center within 10 to 15 minutes. True to the hotel motto “All premium. Except the price” cost our overnight stay in a spacious family room 45 EUR per night. The breakfast could be booked for 12.50 EUR per person. The hotel opened at the end of 2020, very modern and stylishly furnished and all the staff are super friendly. We felt totally comfortable and can highly recommend the hotel for a city trip.
Top 15 things to do & photo spots in Stuttgart
For our exploration of Stuttgart, we used the StuttCard PLUS, which allows free admission or attractive discounts at 52 partners (museums, leisure facilities, restaurants, etc.). In addition, we had 72 hours of free travel on public transport throughout the Stuttgart region. That was super great, because the public transport network is very well developed here.
The Mercedes-Benz Museum
Stuttgart and the automobile – they simply belong together. This is where the automobile was invented almost simultaneously by Carl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler 135 years ago. In 1886, Carl Benz applied for a patent for his three-wheeled motor car in Mannheim. At the same time, Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach developed the world’s first four-wheeled motor vehicle in a small Workshop in Stuttgart. Today, Stuttgart is the oldest and most important vehicle location in the world. Mercedes-Benz and Porsche still have their headquarters here.
To get an insight into this fascinating history, we visited the Mercedes-Benz Museum, to which we had free admission with the StuttCard. First of all, as a visitor, you take an elevator that reminds you a bit of a space capsule 😉 34 meters in height and begins his tour on the ninth level. From there, the history of the automobile and the Mercedes-Benz brand is explored chronologically during the tour – from 1886 to the present day. 160 vehicles and 1,500 exhibits on an area of 16,500 m² can be explored by visitors.
We really liked the visit to the Mercedes-Benz Museum. The museum is very nicely designed, the automobile exhibits are very worth seeing and the history behind it is super interesting – and not only for automobile fans.
The Wine Region in Stuttgart
That Stuttgart is a wine region… we didn’t expect that at all before our visit. To learn more about it, we took part in the wine tour included in our StuttCard, where you take a red minibus through Stuttgart’s vineyards. The tour starts and ends at the Mercedes-Benz Museum. On the approximately 35-minute drive, nine stops are approached, where you can get on and off at any time to explore various wineries, the wine museum or the vineyards. During the trip you will learn all sorts of Things to knowe.B that Stuttgart has over 420 hectares of vineyards and that vineyards are even located in the city center due to its unique location in a cauldron surrounded by green hills.
Our tip: One of the most beautiful views of the vineyards of Stuttgart we had from the grave chapel on the Württemberg. This can also be easily reached by public transport: From Stuttgart Central Station you take the S-Bahn line 1 to Stuttgart-Untertürkheim and then continue with the bus 61 to the final stop Rotenberg. From there you walk about 500 meters to the funerary chapel and already have fantastic views of the vineyards.
The Old Castle & the Karlsplatz
In the center of Stuttgart is the Old Castle, which has been writing history for over 1,000 years. Next to the collegiate church, it is the oldest building in the state capital. At first glance, the Old Castle reminded us more of a castle. This is no coincidence, because around 950 Duke Liudolf of Swabia, a son of Emperor Otto the Great, had a moated castle built here to protect the mare’s garden. The castle changed hands several times since this time and was constantly rebuilt and expanded until finally in the 16th century the four-winged Renaissance castle with the characteristic large round towers was built.
For 400 years, the Old Castle was the residence of the Counts and Dukes of Württemberg and thus the centre of power of the state of Württemberg. Only when the construction of the New Palace was commissioned by Duke Carl Eugen of Württemberg in 1746 was the heyday of the Old Castle finally over. A demolition could just be prevented and so the Old Castle today houses the Landesmuseum Württemberg with works of art from the Stone Age to the present, the Children’s Museum Junges Schloss and the Castle Church.
The Karlsplatz is a historic square named after Duke Karl Eugen, who ruled the country from 1744 to 1793. In the middle of the square stands an equestrian monument to Kaiser Wilhelm I, King of Prussia and German Emperor.
The New Castle & the Schlossplatz
Why is there actually a new and an old castle in Stuttgart? The New Castle was built between 1746 and 1807 as the seat of the Dukes and Kings of Württemberg and was decorated accordingly, as the Old Castle no longer met the requirements of the young Duke Carl Eugen of Württemberg. The French palace complex of the Palace of Versailles served as a model for the imposing building with a large courtyard of honour in the heart of Stuttgart. The three-winged complex is a typical representative of its time and the last large baroque residential palace complex in Germany.
Unfortunately, the castle was almost completely destroyed in the Second World War and only through the many protests of citizens and preservationists could a final demolition be prevented after the war. In 1957, the state parliament of Baden‐Württemberg decided to rebuild. Today, the New Castle is one of the largest listed buildings in the country and houses various ministries and a Roman museum. In addition, the state government of Baden-Württemberg uses the central wing of the New Palace for representative receptions and events.
The adjacent Schloßplatz is the largest square in the centre of Stuttgart. Here we liked the bandstand and the colorful flower beds very much. In the middle of the square is an anniversary column, which was erected on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the reign of King Wilhelm I in 1841 and finally crowned in 1863 with the 5-meter-high goddess of harmony “Concordia”.
The Castle Garden
The 60-hectare Stuttgart Palace Garden stretches from Schloßplatz in the city centre to the banks of the Neckar near Bad Cannstatt and can look back on over 600 years of history. As early as 1350, a “count’s garden” at the Old Castle was mentioned for the first time. The castle garden owes its current appearance largely to the Federal Garden Shows of 1961 and 1977 as well as the International Horticultural Exhibition of 1993.
The entire area of the palace garden is now divided into an upper, middle and lower palace garden: The “Upper Palace Garden” extends from the Old and New Palace on Schloßplatz to Schillerstraße. In the “Mittlerer Schlossgarten” is the Carl Zeiss Planetarium, the ruins of the New Lusthaus, the Schlossgartensee and the construction site of the new main station “Stuttgart 21”. The “Lower Palace Garden” extends further northeast to the mineral baths in Berg near the Cannstatter Neckarufer.
From the main station we first walked into the middle castle garden and from there over the Ferdinand-Leitner-Steg into the upper castle garden. Everywhere you will find artificial lakes, streams, fountains, playgrounds, walking paths and sunbathing lawns. When the weather is nice, it is definitely a perfect place to relax and unwind.
The modern City Library
The city library at Mailänder Platz is one of the most popular photo motifs in Stuttgart! The basic shape of the building, designed by Korean architect Eun Young Yi, is a cuboid with a floor area of 44 meters side length and a height of 40 meters. But it is not the outer façade that attracts the photographers, but the spectacularly designed interior of the library.
From the fourth to eighth floors, the large reading room is located here, a light-flooded gallery with bookshelves and reading places connected by stairs. A really very impressive room, which can also be found many times on Instagram and has already become a real Instagram hotspot. We can understand that very well 🙂
Schillerplatz & the Collegiate Church
We found one of the most beautiful photo opportunities in Stuttgart at Schillerplatz which counts as the historic core of Stuttgart’s old town. It was laid out in its present form in honour of Friedrich Schiller, whose monument has stood in the middle of the square since 1839. Schillerplatz is surrounded by the collegiate church, the Fruchtkasten, the Prinzenbau and the Old Castle. The collegiate church with its two unequal towers is considered one of the city’s landmarks. The Fruchtkasten (Granary) is a late Gothic stone building from 1393 and one of the oldest preserved buildings in Stuttgart. Today, the building, which is protected as a cultural monument, is used as a sub-museum of the Landesmuseum Württemberg as a house of music.
The ensemble of the two towers of the collegiate church together with the striking façade of the fruit box is a beautiful photo motif.
The Market Hall
If you are at Schillerplatz, you can also pay a visit to the market hall built in 1914. At any time of the year you will find a rich variety of regional and international fruit and vegetable specialities, fish, poultry, game as well as meat and sausage products. The Art Nouveau building with a construction of reinforced concrete girders and a hall spanned by a glass roof has been a listed building since 1972.
At the eastern end of the hall we noticed old tram tracks. And indeed, two years before the opening of the market hall, a 25-metre-long track was laid here, which was intended for the established market wagon traffic with trams between Wangen and Karlsplatz. However, these tracks became useless due to the early use of special platform trucks, so they were never connected to the rail network and lay fallow. Today, the track section is the oldest tram track remnant in Stuttgart.
On the slopes of the Stuttgart cauldron there are over 500 staircases, which are affectionately called “Stäffele” by the residents. In the past, the workers reached the various vineyards in the city via the Stäffle. Today they connect viewpoints, residential and leisure facilities and various parks.
One of the most beautiful of these staircases is the Eugenstaffel, which with its 175 steps leads from Urbanstraße up to Eugensplatz. Once at the top, Eugensplatz with the Galatea Fountain forms the end of Eugenstraße. Other well-known stairs are the Oscar Healer Relay, the Willy Reichert Relay to Karlshöhe, the Singer Relay, the Georg Elser Relay, the Sinner Relay, the Pigeon Relay, the Emil Molt Relay and the Buchenhof Relay. If you want to get to know the stairs and their history a little better, you can also take part in a so-called “Stäffelestour“.
The Feuersee with St. John’s Church
In the west of Stuttgart we discovered the Feuersee, which together with the Neo-Gothic Johanneskirche is a great photo motif. The lake was created in the 18th century and once served as a water reservoir for the city. St. John’s Church was built between 1865 and 1876 and severely damaged in the 2nd World War. During the reconstruction, the vault in the nave, but also the spire of the originally 66-meter-high church tower were not restored for mostly financial reasons. Today, this tower, which has not been completely rebuilt, stands as a memorial against the war.
The Solitude Castle
About 10 km from Stuttgart city centre, Solitude Castle built between 1763 and 1769 for Duke Carl Eugen of Württemberg, is located on a hill in the west of the city. The hunting and representative castle has never been redesigned by subsequent generations during its history and has not been destroyed in the Second World War. Since the second half of the 20th century, the castle has been open to visitors.
From the castle we had a fantastic view of the Württemberg Unterland in the direction of Ludwigsburg. At that time, Duke Carl Eugen had the so-called Solitudeallee built – a more than 13 km long connecting axis to the Residenzschloss Ludwigsburg, which is almost completely preserved to this day.
The Funerary Chapel on the Württemberg
One of the most beautiful views of the vineyards of Stuttgart and the city itself we had from the grave chapel on the Württemberg, which is located in the middle of vineyards. King Wilhelm I had the funerary chapel built for his young wife Katharina in the years 1820 to 1824 as an eternal proof of love in this place, because this was one of the favorite places of the deceased queen. Later, the king himself and their elder daughter Marie Friederike Charlotte of Württemberg found their final resting place in the chapel.
The Weissenhof Museum (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
Before our visit to Stuttgart, we were not even aware that the city has a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Since we were very curious about what was behind it, we paid a visit to the Weissenhof Museum and learned more about it here: In 1927, the Weissenhofsiedlung with 33 cubic flat roof houses was built on a hill in the city, which were built in just four months of construction. Well-known architects such as Mies van der Rohe and Scharoun were involved in the concept, which was intended to answer the question “How to live?”. The architect Le Corbusier, who scored with his concept of a “transformable house”, received the greatest attention. In his built semi-detached house, the living room could be converted into several bedrooms by sliding walls and sliding beds, following the example of a train compartment.
Together with another sixteen buildings by Le Corbusier (in Argentina, Belgium, France, India, Japan and Switzerland), le Corbusier’s semi-detached house and single-family house in Stuttgart’s Weissenhofsiedlung has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since July 2016. These are listed as a transnational World Heritage Site under the title “The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier – An Extraordinary Contribution to Modernism”. By the way, The Stuttgart Weissenhofsiedlung itself is not on the World Heritage List.