Budget Car Rental Coupons = A Great Weekend in South Germany
We were given some really cool car rental coupons last week, so we decided we’d rent a car and do a quick road trip around the country known for making spectacular cars: Germany. But not just any part of Germany: south Germany.
Stuttgart – Car Culture and Museums in Southern Germany
Stuttgart is one of Germany’s largest industrial cities usually associated with factories and heavy industry. However, many Germans know it for its culture, including world-class museums, opera and ballet, royal palaces and other historic buildings. The sprawling city also has plenty of wide-open spaces, with woodland and meadows comprising more than half of the area. Even the origins of its name are rural, a derivation from the words “stud farm.”
A good place to start any visit to Stuttgart is with the spectacular view of the city and surrounding countryside from the top of the TV tower, perched high on a nearby hillside. On clear days, the view even extends as far as the Alps. This 700-foot structure, built in 1965, was the first of its kind in the world to be constructed from concrete and was a forerunner of similar structures worldwide. You can reach the tower by the 100-year-old rack railway that runs from the town.
Back on the ground, most of the city’s main sights are in the city center, which is the area between the main train station and the charming square called Schillerplatz. The Church of the Holy Cross, which dates from the 12th century, has become one of the symbols of Stuttgart; in addition to its impressive wooden sculptures, if you look closely its two unusual towers don’t quite match.
Stuttgart has some excellent museums. The State Gallery has one of Germany’s finest art collections and has paintings ranging from the middle ages up to the 19th century. A strikingly modern wing attached to the older building has an excellent display of 20th-century art. Nearby, the Old Castle, built in 1320, was once the home of the Duke of Wurttemberg. The impressive building now houses a local history museum with exhibits documenting the history of the area from the Stone Age to present day. Some highlights of the collection include a display of European glass through the centuries and an array of clocks and musical instruments.
Germany has always had a love affair with cars, and if you arrive in the city by train, you will probably notice the Mercedes-Benz logo on the roof of the railway station. Two of the most historic names in the history of the automobile have their origins in Stuttgart. The Mercedes-Benz Museum is the oldest car factory in the world and has a splendid collection of about 100 historic luxury and racing cars. Highlights include the two oldest automobiles in the world, Daimler’s horseless carriage, and Benz’s three-wheeled motor-tricycle, built in 1886. Also on display is the “Popemobile” built for Pope John-Paul VI.
The smaller but equally popular Porsche museum also has a historical collection of around 50 racing cars. A film, shown daily, documents the history of the prestigious company, and there are free guided tours of the production line.
Nightlife in Stuttgart is excellent, as the city offers a wide range of restaurants, bars, and cafes and of course, several typical and lively German beer-gardens. For something a little more relaxed, the city has a thriving opera and classical music scene. Stuttgart is also renowned for its resident ballet company, whose program runs from September to June.
One of the biggest attractions in Stuttgart is its beautiful setting. The city is surrounded not only by hills and meadows but also by vineyards which produce some of Germany’s finest wines. In and around the city are 33 miles of marked hiking trails marked with the city’s emblem, a horse in a yellow ring. One particularly delightful suburb is Bad Cannstatt, once a town in its right. Here you can find a sizeable ornamental park with Oriental-style pavilions and a botanical garden. Boat trips on the Neckar River are also a pleasant way of seeing the surrounding area.
Stuttgart, while perhaps not a prominent tourist destination, offers as much culture, nightlife, and big-city atmosphere as Berlin or Munich — in a beautiful setting. And outside the city, you only need to travel a short distance to be immersed in the quintessential German landscape of forests, hilltop castles, and storybook towns.
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