Time Travel Turtle in Stuttgart
01. September 2016
Time Travel Turtle
In the city of inventions, Stuttgart is constantly reinventing itself – without ever sacrificing the strong history and culture that defines its people.
This is my second visit to Stuttgart and I'm pleased I've been able to come back and explore the city and its surrounds in a bit more detail. Everything it offers, it offers well and with depth. There's no need to just skim the surface here. If you have an interest, you can indulge it properly.
Take the city's inventions, for instance. There have been a lot from here over the years – the bra, the electric drill, the clothes peg (just to name a few). But the most famous is, of course, the car!
Stuttgart has embraced this legacy and there are lots of places you can visit to learn more. I am so impressed with the two main museums – one for Mercedes-Benz and one for Porsche. Both are modern and slick with building designs that match the luxury of their products. What I like most about both of them, though, is that there is so much information about all of the exhibits and the free audio guides mean you leave with a much better understanding of the history of the brands.
I also visit Motorworld, a cool complex on the outskirts of Stuttgart with classic cars on display and a hotel where the rooms all have motoring themes. And I spend the morning at the nearby Mercedes-Benz factory getting a tour of the noisy and busy production line. This is a really cool experience and it doesn't seem that well-known by tourists. It's nice to find things like this when you scratch below the surface and I highly recommend it!
It feels as though Stuttgart is also reinventing itself as a city of the arts. In the centre of town, walking through the Schlossplatz where the locals meet, you can't help but see the new Stuttgart Art Museum. It rises up amongst the more traditional buildings, a large glass cube. It naturally draws you in and so I go inside to see the collection. What I love about the works inside is that they're not necessarily by famous artists but they have an emphasis on local creations and they tell a story – individually and as a whole.
For more iconic pieces of art, I pay a visit to the nearby State Gallery (Staatsgalerie Stuttgart). What was once a small provincial museum has become one of the leading art collections in Europe. I wander from room to room – it seems endless – and am so impressed by how many great works are here. At first there seem to be a focus on modern art until I find the galleries with all the classics.
Stuttgart as a city seems more modern than classic to me, even though its story is a long one and involves much more than the recent industrial and economic successes that have brought a good quality of life to the citizens here. At the Württemberg State Museum I learn all the history of the city and the region – from Neanderthal man, through the conquests of neighbours, and the kingdoms that arose. It's been a fascinating part of Europe for centuries and I enjoy learning more about it.
To see some of this history for myself, I take a few day trips from Stuttgart during my stay here for a week. It's in the towns I visit that you can see the inheritance of the past.
Take Tübingen, for example. This university town is set on the Neckar River and has an old centre with winding streets that take you past crooked timber houses, churches and to the woods where you can find the castle. Because of the large student population, Tübingen has a lively atmosphere amongst all the history and I enjoy taking some time to sit in the marketplace and watch the action around me.
Esslingen is another town on the Neckar River but is even closer to Stuttgart – in fact, I get there on the local train in about 15 minutes. It is an old medieval town and the architecture in the centre still reflects that. Once I pass through the busy shopping thoroughfare from the station, I find myself lost in the streets that dip down past the river and up to the squares and grand public buildings. It's how I imagine much of this region was during the Middle Ages when this part of Baden-Württemberg was an important economic centre.
In that sense, I realise, Stuttgart hasn't changed that much in hundreds of years. I say it reinvents itself because of the innovative industries, the constantly evolving art, and the waves of students and entrepreneurs who make it home. But it's always been like that in its own way. It's a city with much more to offer than first meets the eye and many people might give it credit for. I think I'll have to start planning a third visit to find even more!
Author: Time Travel Turtle