Stuttgart is about the greenest major city there is. Despite its seat as one of Germany's major southern industrial capitals, Stuttgart's downtown is wrapped by eight kilometers worth of parks and gardens -- the so-called "Green U" -- and is loaded with museums and other attractions.
The main train station is located right in the heart of the city and the middle of the Green U, so getting around by foot is very easy. The front entrance of the station points you directly down the Königstrasse, the main pedestrian zone. The above scene, the Schlossplatz, awaits you after only one block. The Schlossplatz is a small park bounded by the Königsbau (seen beyond the Jubilee Column in the photo) and the Neuesschloss (pictured below).
Stuttgart's shopping district continues further down Königstrasse, along with several of the city's other downtown attractions. Among them are the Altesschloss, a classic old-style palace that serves as the city museum; Karlsplatz, the city's main marketplace (one of three downtown); the two-towered Stifftskirche; and the Rathaus, which has a modern-day utilitarian facade but the back side has an older-style classic look.
The Tourist Bureau, right outside the train station, has an excellent city map that provides suggested walking tours of the downtown area. However, if you are a little adventurous, I did find a few other places off the beaten path worth checking out. For example, the Johanneskirche (right) is in the middle of a residential neighborhood and faces a highway, but there's something to be said about having a lake in the middle of the city. Meanwhile, to the northwest you will find the Berlinerplatz and Staatsgarden (at the University of Stuttgart) to be worth the walk.
The Green U itself begins at the Neuesschloss. Turning back along the train station, you will come across a series of parks and lakes, beginning with the Obererschlossgarten, site of the Staatstheater (pictured below), Staatsgallerie, and the Carl-Zeiss Planetarium, an aluminum-tube gazebo-shaped building.
The Obererschlossgarten gives way eventually to the Mittlerer- and Untererschlossgartens, which are narrow parks with small artificial lakes and rivers. The sides of the parks are leveed, so you are buffered somewhat from the noise of the trains to the west or the heavy traffic on the highway to the east. After about three kilometers of this scenery, you come upon the massive Rosensteinpark, long after you've forgotten you're in the middle of a city!
At the northern side of Rosenstein is the Wilhelma Zoologisch and Botanischer Garten, easily one of the biggest zoos in Europe. Sporting hundreds of animals from all around the world living in open habitats, Wilhelma is a year-round family attraction. It has everything from aquariums to greenhouses, artificial mountain settings and deserts, animals big and small -- amidst buildings and scenery that is oriental in flavor (I presumed Turkish).
Stuttgart is a lovely place to visit, and worth at least a day, especially a day spent at a slow pace.
Trip taken 3 November 2001 -- Page last updated 01 September 2006 -- (C) 2001 Tom Galvin