Stuttgart: new palace with palace place

Enjoying the gardens of the Stuttgart Palace.

Stuttgart: Mercedes-Benz Museum by night

The Mercedes-Benz museum at night.

Stuttgart: Wilhelma zoological and botanical gardens

Stuttgart's beautiful Wilhelma zoological and botanical gardens.

Stuttgart: New Palace Square with fountain

Relax in Stuttgart's New Palace Square.

Stuttgart: shopping on Calwer Strasse

Enjoy shopping on the Stuttgart's elegant Calwer Strasse

Rev Up your Traveler Engines

Stuttgart, the capital of Baden-Wurttemberg (although many still call the area Swabia, its pre-World War II name), is known the world over as the "cradle of the automobile." It was in Stuttgart in 1871 that Gottlieb Daimler invented the first car. This creation is so ingrained in the city's heritage that the Stuttgart coat of arms is the same that graces the hood of every Porsche.

Stuttgart was not always the industrial powerhouse it is today. Way back in the 13 th century wine was the city's first source of income. Wine remained Stuttgart's leading source of revenue well into the 19th century. Even today, with more than 800 acres of vineyards, this industry continues to help the local economy. Such so, that the annual wine festival “Weindorf” celebrates this fruit of the vine.

Germany is known for its minimal-barrier zoos, which gives you unprecidented access to a variety animals. Stuttgart's zoo, the Wilhelma, was originally built as a royal palace in the Moorish Revival style. Today, this is Europe's only large combined zoological and botanic garden. You'll see over 8,000 animals and more than 5,000 species of flora.

Prefer new car smell to spear lilies? The new Porsche museum stands on a conspicuous junction just outside Porsche Headquarters in Zuffenhausen. The display area covers 5600 square meters featuring around 80 exhibits, many rare cars and a variety of historical models. The Mercedes-Benz Museum offers a guided tour of over 160 vehicles and car accessories on display. Not to be missed, the “Fascination of Technology” exhibit gives a unique opportunity to experience first hand the latest in design, development and production of this luxury automobile.

This city may seem like it fires on all engines, but in fact, there's plenty of parks and spaces for people to gather. The main square, Schlossplatz, is not only the largest square in Stuttgart, it stands between the city's shopping area, Schlossgarten Park, which runs down to the river Neckar and the city's two central castles. Königstraße, Stuttgart's most famous shopping, runs along the northwestern edge of Schlossplatz, and claims to be the longest pedestrianized street in Germany.

What's really long? The distances you can travel at the Hauptbahnhof. (main station). Traveling within Germany with a German Rail Pass? Be in Frankfurt in under 90 minutes and Cologne in two hours on the ICE train. Strasbourg, France, the capital of Alsace and home of the European Parliament is just one hour and 20 minutes on the record-breaking TGV. Arrive in Zurich in a timely three hours.

The station was designed in 1920, and its stark, functional lines are typical of the artistic trend Neue Sachlichkeit, or New Objectivity. It is characterized by a realistic style combined with a cynical, socially critical philosophical stance. One that is decidedly not idealistic, which would most certainly disappoint native son and philosopher Georg Hegel. His fascination with the zeitgeist (or spirit of the day) helped spawn political and social mores.

In today's Stuttgart, the spirit of the day lasts long into the evening, innovation is idolized and borders are broken down at the speed of rail.

Contributed by: Frederick, a manager at Rail Europe, born and raised in Europe and  has traveled extensively on the continent.

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