Stuttgart is famous worldwide as the “cradle of the automobile.” This is where Karl Benz built the first car running on petrol, and car enthusiasts will be in heaven here.
The Mercedes-Benz Museum has an outstanding exhibition of early cars, including the Benz Patent Motor Car, the world’s first gas-powered automobile, and the Benz Motor Velocipede, with a blistering top speed of 20 kph. Then it’s off to the Porsche Museum, which is celebrating 70 years of sports cars, including the carmaker’s first production model, the Porsche 356 of 1948.
For a great sight of a different kind, head to Johanneskirche, or St. John’s Church. This 19th-century Protestant church was rebuilt after being bombed during World War II and is a marvelous example of Gothic revival. Its main tower is left incomplete as a reminder of the war. Its location, jutting onto the Feuersee (Fire Lake), makes it a perfect subject for photos.
Dig into Stuttgart’s historic past at Schillerplatz, the square of the old city. At the center is a statue of the poet the square is named after, surrounded by grand old buildings. The grandest of these is the Old Castle, which was built mainly in the 16th century. The castle’s courtyard is a delight to walk, with its shapely archways and balconies looking inward.
But the castle really comes alive at Christmas, when it fills with market stalls and nativity scenes and the sound of Christmas carols. The Christmas festivities and events spill over into the adjacent New Palace, with its breathtaking wide wings facing the city’s largest square. (T)