With a population of 600,000 Stuttgart is both the biggest city in Baden-Württemberg and the state capital. The sixth biggest city in Germany has some of the highest incomes, and therefore is one of the most economically significant cities in Germany and the whole of Europe. The metropolitan area around Stuttgart is also one of the most densely populated areas in Germany. An international airport and one of the busiest train stations in the country make Stuttgart a global mainstay.
Skyscrapers stand tall across the Stuttgart skyline. The climate is comparatively warm and humid, favoured by the location in the wide Stuttgart basin, which allows vineyards to flourish on the city’s slopes. A total of at least 400 hectares of the city’s area is cultivated with vineyards, which makes Stuttgart one of the largest wine-growing districts in Germany.
Stuttgart is considered the birthplace of the car, and the museums established here by Mercedes Benz and Porsche attract motor enthusiasts from all over the world. Yet fans of culture also get their money’s worth here, with beautiful galleries, museums, and an extraordinary opera house. The city’s core is filled with open green spaces that are perfect for strolls, such as the palace gardens, the Rosensteinpark and the zoological and botanical garden, the Garten Wilhelma. The Neckar, the lifeline of Baden-Württemberg, also flows through Stuttgart. The city is a haven for foodies and fine wine lovers. Swabian cuisine is famous far beyond the region’s borders, and offers a range of delicacies, which go well with the excellent wines that are grown in the many vineyards.
Without a doubt, the university town of Tübingen is one of the most beautiful cities in Germany. With around 86,500 inhabitants, of which about a third are students, the city combines the flair of a medieval town, with its striking old marketplace, with the vibrant bustle and lifestyle of a young student town. Tübingen is approx. 30 km south of Stuttgart, in the middle of the Neckar Valley between the Swabian Jura and the Black Forest. This location is so central that the geographical centre of the state can be found in a little forest in the area around the city of Tübingen. The city is particularly radiant in summer with its picturesque waterfront on the Neckar, and the punts that make their way along the river lend a Mediterranean atmosphere. One of the most famous and distinctive sights in Tübingen is the Hölderlin Tower, whose beautiful façade houses a museum that offers insights in the life of the writer, Friedrich Hölderlin, who returned to the city after his studies and spent his later life here.
The city of Reutlingen is situated 12 km east of Tübingen and 31 km south of Stuttgart. Its population is around 110,000 and is capital of the district of Reutlingen. Bring nestled in a picturesque location between the Achalm and Georgenberg mountains, right at the foot of the Swabian Jura, Reutlingen is often referred to as the “Gate to the Swabian Jura”. The city has even made it into the Guinness Book of Records - with a street only 31 cm wide, the smallest street in the world. Tanning was the oldest and most important industry in Reutlingen. Right into the 19th century, the city’s top exports were leather and textiles. Reutlingen University still keeps this tradition alive today with courses in Textile & Design.
Its stunning towers can be seen for miles around against the backdrop of the extraordinary landscape. The ancestral castle of the royal family, former Prussian kings and German emperors, the House of Hohenzollern, sits on an 855 m high peak at the edge of the Swabian Jura. The castle was given its impressive form in 1850, out of the former ruins of the neo-Gothic castle. The construction covers almost the entire summit, consisting of four predominant components: Fortifications, palace, chapels and castle gardens. After its reconstruction, the castle was never inhabited for a long time and was only used for representative purposes. The castle has remained private property, and since 1952 it has endowed with works of art and memorabilia from Prussian history.
In the heart of the UNESCO natural heritage site of the Swabian Jura in Baden-Württemberg, the Marbach Stud with its 500-year-long history is the oldest stud farm in Germany. Amongst the horses kept here were animals which came from the royal stud farm of Einsiedel - the venue for the 65th World Ploughing Championship. Today, the stud farm is the biggest training company in Germany for horse training and is also an important focal point for horse trainers and jockeys. One of the biggest attractions of this farm stud with its reputation for Arabian breeds is the stud parade, which takes place on two weekends in September and October and where all kinds of breeds of studs and mares are put on show. Marbach houses a total of around 520 to 600 horses.
Not far from the Hofgut Einsiedel, the Swabian Jura Natural Heritage Site around 50 km south east of Stuttgart. The Swabian Jura makes up part of the southwest German escarpment, thus the Swabian Jura is home to an impressive variety of natural landmarks, as well as centuries of skilled, traditionally cultivated landscapes and geological sights. Since 2009, 85,270 hectares of the central Swabian Jura have been recognised as a natural heritage site by UNESCO. The landscape’s special features include the steep escarpment, the Albtrauf, with forests on the slopes and ravines, swathes of orchards, and juniper meadows which are mostly used for sheep to graze.
The natural heritage site has much to offer its visitors: footpaths and sometimes caves that can be entered by boat, palaces, castles, and ruins, as well as a variety of arable land with products such as mozzarella from herd of Jura buffalo and juniper whisky.
A core feature of the area is the former army training grounds of the Münsingen estate district that was abandoned by the German Army in 2005 and has since become a habitat for wildlife and flora. Visitors can stroll along the marked pathways and admire the limestone dry grassland. Not only is there the main information centre in the old base in Münsingen, there are also many information centres and open-air museums which lend insights into the history and livelihood of the Swabian Jura.
The “Swabian sea” stretches over around 540 squared kilometres. Like other seas in the world, it is easy to relax here, as the area has a wealth of options in terms of culture, sports, spas, nature, and cuisine. The residents around the lake enjoy warm summers and relatively mild winters, which has made this area an attractive place to settle down for over 7000 years. Some of the main attractions include the garden island of Mainau, the UNESCO world heritage site Reichenau Island, and the historical pile dwellings in Unteruhldingen. The list of sights goes on with Birnau basilica, the Zeppelin Museum, the Hermann Hesse House and the Pfänder mountain close by.
The lake as it can be seen today was formed around 10,000 to 14,000 years ago by the effects of the last ice age. As the ice retreated at the end of the Würm glaciation, the basic of Lake Constance, shaped by former glacial advances of the Rhine glacier, was able to fill up with water. Today the Rhine is still the most significant feeder of Lake Constance, flowing through it from Begrenz in the east to Stein am Rhein in the west. The lake’s deepest point reaches 254 metres.
As well as serving as a drinking water reservoir, it has also garnered immense importance as a nesting and breeding ground for multiple species of bird. The mild climate of Lake Constance has favoured the development of the special cultivation of fruit, wine, and vegetables, primarily on the islands of Mainau and Reichenau.