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Stuttgart

Stuttgart 2  

  The Antarctic Diet  
The charming and vibrant state capital of Baden-W�rttemberg sits in the heart of one of Germany's largest wine-growing regions. Its impressive panorama, beautiful gardens and parklands, splendid squares and varied architecture, not to forget its cultural diversity, attract visitors from all over the world. With its historic towns, magnificent castles and palaces, splendid vineyards, the River Neckar and many lovely lakes, the Stuttgart region is also an ideal location for hikers and bikers.

Stuttgart’s traditional festivals are a magnet to guests far and wide: the splendid Stuttgart Spring Festival, the stylish Summer Festival with its white pavilions, fairy lights and lanterns galore giving the city a special sparkle, and the Stuttgart Wine Village with about 120 beautifully adorned wine arbours. The Stuttgart Beer Festival at the end of September is one of the world’s largest and a very spirited event with fairground attractions and a huge marquee accommodating around 5,000 revellers. Things become somewhat calmer but certainly no less attractive during the weeks of Advent, when the Stuttgart Christmas Market turns the city into a twinkling winter fairyland.

Things to see in Stuttgart: the city is great for those interested in cars, since it hosts the Porsche Museum and the Mercedes-Benz Museum. The former displays Porsches through the decades, and the latter covers the history of the motor industry and the evolution of cars more generally. If in your family dinosaurs, rather than cars, is your thing, head for the Stuttgart State Museum of Natural History. Here you will find mastodons and mammoths, as well as the usual land, flying and swimming reptiles. Nearby is Wilhelma Zoo, so the family can see alive the elephants, giraffes, small mammals and reptiles that followed the dinosaurs. There is a good Botanical Garden too so the party could split up for a while and find something for everyone. A couple of words of warning: at the natural history museum the information is mostly in German, and the zoo covers a large area so wear comfortable shoes.
It would be difficult to visit Stuttgart without seeing the Television Tower (Fernsehturm). You used to be able to go up it for great views over the city, but it is currently closed for fire safety reasons, so check first whether it has re-opened. As an alternative way of getting a view of the whole valley, take the Rack Railway from Marienplatz near the centre for a 15 minute ride up to 200 metres. You can take your bike on the cog wheel train too so you can enjoy a great ride down.
For those interested in architecture, history and culture generally, Stuttgart has all these to offer: Schloss Solitude (take a guided tour of the ducal palace); the New Castle (now government offices: view from outside); Schlossplatz (where markets and festival events take place); the Sepulchral Chapel (orthodox church on a hill above the River Nekar); the Kunstmuseum (modern art in a glass cube of a building); and Wurttemberg State Museum in Old Castle (history from Neolithic times to the present day – mostly in German only).
 
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