World traveler Clown Tom Bolton

Adventure stories & photos

 

Southern Germany

 

Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg

 

Schlossplatz, the heart of the city

I first visited Stuttgart in the southwestern region of Baden-Württemberg in 1984 and over the coming years made it a base to start and end my season of street performing. Eventually I settled in Stuttgart. Starting at the main train station, the major pedestrian street known as Königstrasse or King’s Street extends approximately a kilometer with the  heart of the city, the Schlossplatz or castle plaza as one would call it in German half way up. The Schlossplatz is ringed by the Neues Schloss or New Castle, the Altes Schloss or old caste, the Königsbau or King’s building and the Stuttgarter Kunstgebäude or Stuttgart Art Buildings. On the plaza are multiple statues, monuments fountains and a gazebo that add flair to the historic buildings and flower beds seen as an extension of the Schlossgarten or nearby by Castle gardens.

Stuttgart Schlossplatz Germany
Stuttgart Schlossplatz gazebo
Statues Stuttgart Schlossplatz Germany
fountain Stuttgart Schlossplatz Germany
Germany Stuttgart Schlossplatz statue
Stuttgart Germany SWR Sommer Festival

Perfomances in Stuttgart

Here I am doing shows in Stuttgart on the Schloßplatz about 2001. The local population is known for being tight with their money but it is also one of the most economically well off areas of Germany. Like a friend once commented to me, “when I saw the big Mercedes sign rotating on top of the train station, I knew there was money here”. Stuttgart is neither as cosmopolitan as Berlin, Munich or Hamburg. But not as hectic either yet still has a multitude of culture, art and sports. Eventually one has to live somewhere besides in a motor home.

The southern side of the Schlossplatz has been my home pitch for years. In the mid 1980’s they built a tunnel underneath to redirect the traffic that used to pass through. Then they built a series of stairs up to an elevated plaza which was like a theater. There was a restaurant/ice cream place that overlooked the pitch.

Partially because I established the space below as the place to do big shows in Stuttgart, the stairs became a loved place for people to hang out. Eventually they tore the stairs away to make room for a new museum.  But due to the popularity of the place, they built a smaller set of stairs alongside of the museum. Unfortunately, the stairs are set too far back to use as seating for a show but still makes a nice backdrop.

The Schlossplatz still has the advantage of being a huge space and nobody lives close enough to complain about the noise. On the other hand, there are often events taking place on the weekends in the warmer months, which are the only time I tend to work there. There can also be competition with musicians or break dancers who want the space so I am happy to have paying gigs so that I don’t need to bother with street shows but it is still part of my marketing to keep a high profile in Stuttgart.

Stuttgart Altes Schloss “old castle”, Landesmuseum

Just across from the Neues Schloss is the Altes Schloss. Not nearly are large but beautifully built, it houses the Landesmuseum or regional museum wiht many historical artifacts. The museum has an entrance but sometimes the door to the castle chapel is open and one can enter for free. The most impredsive characteristic of the castle is the courtyard with its multiple stories of archways and a nice equestrian statue.

Stuttgart altes schloss
Stuttgart old castle courtyard
Stuttgart schlosskirche sign
Stuttgart Landesmuseum entrance sign
Stuttgart altes schloss-entrance
Altes Schloss Wuerttembergische Museum Stuttgart
Stuttgart old castle courtyard statue
Stuttgart Schlosskirche interior Germany
Stuttgart old castle courtyard archways
Stuttgart​ Karlsplatz, Kaiser Wilhelm monument, Markthalle

To the east of the old castle is the Karlsplatz. It is ringed by many shady trees and centered around a monument to Kaiser Wilhelm ranked by 2 large stone lions and 2 columns. Some events are held here but it is most known for the Saturday flea market where I have seen some amazing deals on real antiques – and no cheap junk from China allowed. To the west one sees the Altes Schloss and to the southeast is the Markthalle or market hall. It is a covered market but rather than cheap produce from local farmers, it seems to cater to expensive and exotic imports although some seasonal foods are also to be found. On the second floor are exclusive boutiques selling things for people with classical tastes; more likely to find a gift for one’s grandmother than something new and cool for a teenager.

Kaiser Wilhelm monument Karlsplatz Stuttgart
Stuttgart Karlsplatz saturday flea market
Altes Schloss Stuttgart Baden Wuerttemberg
Germany Stuttgart Markthalle entrance
Stuttgart Germany Baden Wuerttemberg Markthalle
Markthalle Stuttgart Germany sign
Stuttgart markthalle Germany spice vendor
Markthalle Stuttgart Germany produce stand
Stuttgart markthalle pasta vendor
saturday flea market Stuttgart Karlsplatz
Germany Altes Schloss Stuttgart statues
Stuttgart markthalle Germany
Markthalle painting Stuttgart Germany
Markthalle Stuttgart Baden Wuerttemberg
Markthalle fountain Stuttgart Germany
Stuttgart​ Schillerplatz, Prinzenbau, Fruchtkasten, Stiftskirche, Altekanzlei

From the Schlossplatz there is a pedestrian street, parallel to the Königstrasse, the old Castle to the left and to the right the Schillerplatz, which was originally called the Schlossplatz before the new Castle was built. In the middle is a large monument and statue of Friedrich Schiller one of Germany’s best known authors who was born in the Stuttgart area. The Schillerplatz is ringed by some of Stuttgarts oldest and iconic structures. Across from the old Castle is the Prinzenbau or Prince’s building and the adjacent Altekanzei or old Chancellery building. On the other side is the Fruchtkastenbau or granary building which now holds the music instrument collection of the Landesmuseum, and the Stiftskirche or collegiate church. This church has a special assembly of glass plates hung from its ceiling to amplify the acoustics and concerts are sometimes held here, without needing electronic amplification. In the foreground of one photos of the Stiftskirche  is the Mulan Chinese Restaurant, one of my favorite Stuttgart eateries.

Altekanzlei Stuttgart Baden Wuerttemberg Germany
Stuttgart Stiftskirche Germany
Stuttgart Stiftskirche mulan restaurant
Stuttgart Schillerplatz Germany
Stuttgart Schillerplatz alte Kanzlei
Stiftskirche Stuttgart Baden Wuerttemberg Germany
Stuttgart Marktplatz, Rathaus “city hall”

Past the Stiftskirche one comes to the large Marktplatz or market place where has the modern built Rathaus or city hall is located. Aside from the Schlossplatz, this is where many events and demonstrations in the city center are held. There is also a weekly market held here and the nearby Königstrasse also shown below.

Stuttgart koenigstrasse pedestrian street
Stuttgart Germany Rathaus city hall
Stuttgart​ Wilhelmplatz, Bohnenviertel red light district

About 500 meters SE from the Marktplaz, across the Hauptstätterstrasse, a major thoroughfare ring-road around the center, is the Wilhemplatz with many restaurants and bars. This marks the border to the Stuttgart Bohnenviertel or “bean quarter” a rather sleazy red light district in a country with legal but regulated prostitution. Whore houses, biker bars but also antique shops and some other interesting boutiques are all to be found here. It looks seedy but is generally safe despite the local junkie scene.

Stuttgart wilhelmplatz outdoor restaurants
Stuttgart red light district hotel
Stuttgart Bohnenviertel Lido bar
Stuttgart Germany eros center Bohnenviertel
Stuttgart Germany red light district
Stuttgart Stadtpalais, Staatsgalarie, Schlossgarden, Staatstheater, opera house

From the Bohnenviertel if one follows the Hauptstätterstrasse back north one passes many large institutions including the pictured Stadtpalais or city-palace which holds city archives and also hosts many events. There is also the Staatsgalerie or State gallery a modern art museum built in a funky modern design. Eventually one reaches the Schlossgarten where one can see (below) a nice monument on the backside of the new castle and the modern Landtag building where the minsters of regional government of Baden-Württemberg have their offices. Next door is the Staatstheater building aka the opera-house, which is a classical construction where theater, opera and also the world class Stuttgart ballet often performs. There is a small pond in front of the opera house, a good view of the side of the new castle and plenty of trees and statues.

Stuttgart Germany neues schloss
Stuttgart Staatgalarie Germany
Stuttgart schlossgarten neues schloss
statues by opera house Stuttgart Germany
Stuttgart staatstheater sign
Stuttgart Stadt Palais Germany
Stuttgart schlossgarten sign Germany
Stuttgart Landtag schlossgarten
Stuttgart Schlossgarten Staatsoperhaus
Stuttgart Schlossgarten statues
Stuttgart​ Hauptbahnhof-Turm, main trains-station tower

From the Scholossgarten one has a view of the front of what is left of the Stuttgart main train station tower. Most of the station has been torn down in a miserable fiasco project called Stuttgrt-21 which has left the whole area an ugly construction site for over 10 years with no end in sight. Seems fitting that this is where a large group of or Romas aka Gypsies congregate since Romania was allowed to join the EU. They camp out and beg and generally misbehave but seem to be tolerated by the police to an unexplainable level. Not that I am at all anti-foreigner but I’ve personally experienced their aggression and thievery attempts. But it seems that in light of WWII, the local police don’t want to be seen as too authoritative – although they have often used unnecessary force against demonstrators opposed to the Stuttgart-21 project. Yet despite the years of blowing through billions of taxpayer money over the claimed budget, Stuttgart-21 continues and the opposition with their information stand defiantly still stands in front of the station.

Stuttgart main train station Mahnwache
Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof Schlossgarten

Stuttgart Königstrasse, Schlossplatz events

The main walking street Königstrasse or King’s Street runs almost a kilometer through the center and there are other pedestrian zones and plazas but the Schloßplatz is really the center of it all. The Schloßplatz and the pedestrian streets running to and including the Marktplatz or Market Plaza are the setting for one of Germany’s biggest Christmas markets.

Stuttgart Christmas Market

The Christmas market or Weihnachtsmarkt runs about 3 weeks and is proceeded some weeks by a temporary ice-skating rink and a number of wooden stands selling bratwurst and Glühwien – a warm spiced wine that is traditional like hot apple cider in the States.

Lots of traditional handicrafts like ornaments and toys made of wood or leather, candles, etc. are sold here as well as the big heart shaped cookies to be worn around the neck. Known under various names like Lebkuchen or Magenbrot, they are flavored with honey cinnamon and nuts and typically have sentimental prose like “Ich liebe dich” – (I love you) written on them. They also set up a model train city that includes a train big enough for the kids to ride on, with steam coming out of the engine.

Carnival in Stuttgart

Carnival or Fasching is the next big festival after Christmas and is celebrated with a big parade through the center. There are many styles of costumes from shiny modern to middle-age looking one. There is no tradition of marching bands at sporting events like in the USA but some of these groups take it very serious, meeting often although they might only perform at a handful of events during the carnival season.

Most of the traditional costumes depict old hags and grotesque guys often carrying brooms and they might throw candy or confetti but also carry off the occasional teenage girl. Most of the costumes look pretty warm, which fits to the German weather in late winter, in contrast to the sexy girls clad in bikinis that one sees in Brazil. Halloween was not even celebrated in Germany until the new millennium but has slowly made inroads into the society. The traditional occasion to get dressed up is still carnival. There are often events for kids but the carnival parades are mostly adults.

Demonstrations, democracy at work

In addition to celebrations, Stuttgart has been home to many demonstrations in the past years. Here was a huge demonstration against nuclear energy shortly after the catastrophe in Fukoshima. The phasing out of atomic energy had been settled years ago but then the conservatives under Angela Merkel simply gave into the lobbyists and backtracked on the laws. The public outcry after Fukoshima forced her hand to repeal her deal. This demonstration  was not just in the center of Stuttgart but was part of a human chain all the way to one of Germany’s oldest, most dangerous nuclear plants less than 40 Km north of Stuttgart.

The most controversial thing in Stuttgart is the “Stuttgart 21” project to replace the present main train station with an underground one. Debated for years, the political and financial power-brokers are ramming through this disastrous project despite untold levels of fraud and corruption. The Deutsche Bahn has spent millions on propaganda and even the more liberal politicians in the area seem to have their finger in the pie or have buckled under the pressure. The populous has on the other hand; keep up a series of weekly protests and occasional big demonstrations since years.

Political & police oppression remain in Stuttgart

A shocking aspect of this controversy is that the police have been used to brutally suppress the civil disobedience opposed to the destruction of the city. A virtual witch hunt has ensued by the prosecutors and courts to criminalize all opposition. On one occasion, water cannons, tear gas and Billy-clubs were used against non-violent children and seniors just for being in the way resulting in hundreds of injuries including the permanent blinding of 2 adults.

Stuttgart train project a scandal of corruption

Although it has been proven that the planned station has much less capacity than the present one, the proponents keep up wild claims how it will be the best and greatest project of all time. Undisputed is that it will be the most expensive of all time in Germany. One of the early steps to try to make the decision irreversible was to occupy a large section of the Schlossgarten (castle gardens) and cut down hundreds of trees, many of them 200 – 300 years old.

That the needed permission was lacking was simply ignored as was the arbitration decision that was supposed to settle the conflict. The project leaders were obliged to replant the trees elsewhere but only moved a few small ones. Of course the larger ones would have been expensive if not impossible to transplant, which was one of the points of the project opponents. The promise to move them was a farce like most of the project to date.

An environmental catastrophe

An endangered beetle that only lives in old trees was known to be living here but the DB went around the European law protecting them.  They paid off someone to claim that there were no beetles in the trees they wanted to cut. This proved to be false. And what sense does it make to say an animal is in this particular spot at the moment, so it won’t impact them to destroy their only surrounding living space.

Even in time of war, the residents of Stuttgart had protected the trees from getting cut down for firewood. To add insult to injury, the DB propaganda machine has used exactly the most obnoxious drawbacks to the project to turn around and sell it. They destroy the nature and sell it as a “green ecological” project. The present station has ground level entrances and is convenient for handicaps even without power working. The propose station is a nightmare of safety violations with no escape in case of fire yet is always touted as barrier free.

The present station in Stuttgart is not really pretty but then the DB has deliberately let it run down for the last 20 years
so they can claim they need a new station. But it is a historically “protected” monument of architectural importance. Yet in addition to destroying a large section of the Schlossgarten, they tore down 2/3 of the station backed by the force of 6000 aggressive riot police. I could go on and on about the incredible fraud and arrogance involved with this project but this isn’t the place for it.

Beautiful Schlossgarten trees

This is a photo from a happier time after a demonstration calling for the saving of the Schlossgarten. It was really the jewel of Stuttgart’s parks with a long history of royal patronage being sacrificed so that developers can build shopping centers and expensive unneeded office buildings where the tracks are located.

Culture in the Stuttgart Schlossgarten

The Schlossgarten is more than just a place to relax. There are events held here like the annual LAB Festival that every few years brings back Stuttgart’s favorite clown.

Soccer World Cup

During the Soccer World Cup in 2010 which was held in Germany, there were large screens for public viewing set up in the Schlossgarten. These photos were made during and after Germany’s quarterfinal annihilation of Argentina. The weather was hot and hundreds of people partied in the fountains while tens of thousands danced in the street.

Only in the last decade have the Germans dared to start waving flags and displaying their national colors while rooting for their national teams. In light of the wars, it was considered in bad taste but that feeling has worn off. Unfortunately, some right-wing extremists are always going to exaggerate such situations to flout their ideology. Fortunately, Germany has become more integrated over the years and it is common in the big cities at least, to see people of obvious different cultural backgrounds speaking fluent German and being an integrated part of society especially in the performing arts.

Stuttgart Rosenstein Park.  Schloss Rosenstein.

One of the most important green spaces in Stuttgart is Rosenstein Park. If one follows the central Schlossgarten Park north, it ends at the Neckar River. From here is a connected park called Rosenstein that runs up the hill to the east. Rosenstein is much less developed with cafes and grill places although there is at least one large play area for kids; most of the grass here is now left to grow wild for the insects. Within the boundaries of the park there is the Naturkundemusuem or Natural History museum installed in 3 buildings. The first one upon entering the park from the Schlossgarten is the (castle) Schloss Rosenstein. Originally built 1824 – 1829 by a famous Italian architect as a summer palace for Wilhelm the King of Württemberg. It later housed the largest collection of the king’s paintings and sculptures and additionally was a war museum during WWII. Damaged in the war it was restored and since 1953 opened as the Natural History Museum. It is a beautiful building with a large statue of 2 nymphs in the front and a rose garden to the west with various statues and a view over the Neckar River and southern end of the Schlossgarten.

Rosenstein Park Stuttgart Germany
Schloss Rosenstein Stuttgart Baden-Wuerttemberg Germany
Entrance Schloss Rosenstein Stuttgart
statue Rosenstein Stuttgart Germany
statues Schloss Rosenstein Stuttgart
Schloss Rosenstein sign Stuttgart
garden schloss Rosenstein Stuttgart
Stuttgart Schloss Rosenstein Germany

Stuttgart Rosenstein Park.  Museum am Löwentor – Naturkundemusuem

At the other end of the park to the North-East is the Museum am Löwentor (Museum on Lion’s Gate) consisting of 2 modern buildings that house the rest of the Natural History Museums collection. The classical style of the Schloss Rosenstein could not be more different than the rather ugly modern style of the other buildings; looking like a disaster from the 1960’s although not built until the 1980s. What stands out are the 2 life sized dinosaur statues between the buildings and a 3 abstract metal construction in the shape of a dino. Schloss Rosenstein is dedicated to biology, the Museum am Löwentor to geology and paleontology.

Stuttgart museum am Loewentor
Naturkundemuseum dinosaurs Stuttgart

Stuttgart Rosenstein Park.  Wilhelma Zoo

On the South-middle edge of Rosenstein Park is the Wilhelma Zoo. One can actually see into a number of the outdoor areas from the park including the polar bear enclosure. The main entrance is to the west and to the east is an additional exit and a large theater that belongs to the zoo although it can be accessed from outside.

Wilhelma zoo Stuttgart Germany banners
Entrance Wilhelma zoo Stuttgart Germany
Wilhelma zoo map Stuttgart Germany
Wilhelma Theater Stuttgart Germany

Neckar Käptn boat lines, Bad Canstatt Stadt Strand, Leuze

Just across from the entrance to the Wilhelma zoo is a docking area for multiple boats from the Neckar Käptn. They offer various tours on the Neckar River and have a party boat for events and entertainment. In addition to a train bridge and car bridge nearby there is also a pedestrian bridge over the river to the neighborhood of Bad Canstatt. There is a small park here with a sand volleyball pitch and above is a laid back café with sand, beach chairs and umbrellas known as Stadt Strand or City Beach. Unfortunately, the Neckar River is neither clean enough nor suitable for swimming. But it is a nice atmosphere to meet in the early evening in the warm months and considered a hip insider tip.

A few hundred meters east of the Stadt Strand back across the Neckar River is the Leuze Mineralbad (mineral baths). Leuze is a Stuttgart institution. It has multiple natural hot springs sources, an extensive sauna/spa area as well as outdoor pools and lawns to relax. There is another natural spring pool right next door and yet another about 2 kilomenters towards the far side of Bad Canstatt.Togerther these contain the largest collection of natural thermal mineral springs in Europe next to Budapest. Most pools in Germany charge extra for their sauna areas but it is all included in Leuze. They charge a bit more than a normal pool for swimming but it is the cheapest place in the area to have an extensive sauna area.

Neckar Kaeptn Stuttgart Germany
Neckar Kaeptn boats Stuttgart
Stadt Strand Stuttgart Germany
Stuttgart Stadt Strand volleyball
Stuttgart Neckar Kaeptn boat trip schedule
Stadt Strand sign Stuttgart Germany
Stadt strand cafe Stuttgart
Lueze mineralbad Stuttgart

Stuttgart Höhenpark Killesberg

One of the nicest parks in Stuttgart is the Höhenpark Killesberg about 2 kilometers north of the center. It is a sizable park with many rolling hills, old trees, gardens, fountains and multiple café/restaurants. An unusual attraction is the kids’ train that runs through the park; one pulled by a coal burning steam locomotive the other by a diesel motor. Killesberg has a long history. It was the staging grounds for numerous horticultural shows both national and regional. It was used as a fairgrounds and the Stuttgart convention center was here for a few decades before being moved to its present location by the airport. Killesberg was also known to be one of multiple places used by the Nazis to gather Jews and other “undesirables” before sending them off to concentration camps. But the name Killesberg or Killes-mountain is just a coincidense; the word Killes being jsut a family name and having nothing to do with killing.

Killesberg Stuttgart bahn
Stuttgart hohenpark killesberg bahn
Stuttgart Killesberg map
Stuttgart ssb killesbergbahn
Stuttgart Killesberg- Eliszi’s Jahrmarkts- theater and rides

A major draw to Killesberg is the Eliszi’s carnival rides and theater. The shows presented in the tent theater are usually clown or puppet shows offering kid friendly entertainment. The theater is ringed by old circus wagons used as offices and dressing rooms. The is a carousel, waffle stand, swing that looks like  a pendulating ship and throwing booth where one tries to knock the hat off wood head figures.

Stuttgart hoehenpark killesberg carousel
Eliszis jarhmarktstheater stuttgart
Stuttgart killesberg eliszis jahrmarktstheater
Stuttgart killesberg carousel tower
Eliszis theater killesberg stuttgart
stuttgart killesberg eliszis waffelbaeckerei
Eliszis Schiffschaukel killesberg stuttgart
killesberg stuttgart carnival game
Stuttgart Killesberg tower

On a hill above where Eliszi’s carnival is stationed is a modern tower that gives great views over the park and surrounding area. It is built around a massive center pole with spiraling stairs and a construction of cables.

hoehenpark Killesberg tower stuttgart
Stuttgart Germany hoehenpark killesberg
Stuttgart Germany hoehenpark killesberg tower
hoenhenpark killesberg stuttgart baden wuerttemberg germany
Stuttgart Killesberg zoo.

Killesberg park also has a small zoo with free access. It has ponies, donkeys, alpacas, goats, peacocks, flamingos and wild pigs

killesberg stuttgart tierpark pony
killesberg stuttgart flower gardens pond
peacock stuttgart Germany killesberg
killesberg stuttgart germany donkey
killesberg stuttgart germany flamingos
alpaca stutgart killesberg park

Stuttgart – Hamburger Fish Market

This is a photo of another foreign artist, my good friend Hugo from Argentina. His German is even much worse than mine but he is a pantomime so it doesn’t matter. Here he is mimicking people on the Hamburger Fish Market, held in late summer on the Karlsplatz close to the Schlossplatz. They mostly offer northern German fish and seafood specialties and the fried fish stand in the background was the same I often saw at the Kieler Woche Festival during my earlier stays in the north. The fish is deep fried on the upper level and is slid down a shoot to the seller on the lower level with a ring of a bell and a cry of “Backfisch”. Alternatively, the Stuttgarter Weinfest (Stuttgart wine festival) is presented each summer in Hamburg as an exchange of culture – in other words, any excuse for a party.

Vegan Days Festival on Stuttgart Pariserplatz

A rather new festival in Stuttgart is the Vegan Days event held in spring on the Pariser Plaza in the Europaviertel or Europe Quarter. This area is a recent addition just north of the main train station that includes the Milanao shopping center, new library, luxury condominiums and bank buildings. The festival is small but at least an attempt to counterbalance the karma of the sterile, almost green-less area that seems to epitomize luxury and materialismover values like protecting animals and the environment.

pariserplatz stuttgart germany vegan festival
stuttgart germany vegan days festival
vegan street day festival stuttgart germany
vegans for future stuttgart germany

The Mercedes Museum in Stuttgart

Stuttgart’s claim to world-wide fame is its vehicle production being the home base for both Porsche and Mercedes. For many years, Porsche had a museum displaying some of its cars. Then the huge Mercedes-Benz Museum opened with not only Mercedes but examples of many vehicles and technological products from the area. Much of the motor technology that came to power not just cars but boats and planes as well were developed around Stuttgart. For anyone interested in machine technology, this might be the best museum in the world.

Cars, buses, trucks… there is so much to see that one can hardly do it in one day. With the admission fee, one gets a set of headphones that provide a description of each display in either English or German. Not to be totally outdone, Porsche responded by building a bigger better museum as well. In the outskirts of Stuttgart, the building itself is an icon of sleek design.

Stuttgart Linden Museum

The Linden Museum near the University central campus is an ethnological museum with cultural artifacts from around the world. It is named after Karl Graf von Linden, a well-known explorer in the 19th century and now run jointly by the City of Stuttgart and State of Baden-Württemberg. The green sign in front of the museum mentions that the depictions around the entrance (and one can assume multiple exhibits within) don’t reflect the current sensibilities and perceptions of native people and mentions elsewhere on the building that from the Nazi times that Stuttgart was referred to as the city of “Foreign-Germans”. Like many collections, much was likely plundered and once presented as “primitive” rather than promoting respectful appreciation for cultural accomplishments.

Linden museum sign Stuttgart Germany
Linden museum Stuttgart Germany
Linden museum entrance Stuttgart Germany

Stuttgart Taekwondo schools & tournaments

I started training taekwondo some years before moving to Stuttgart. Once there, I realized that there were a number of schools and clubs in the area. Not only have a handful of grandmasters settled in the region but one of the highest ranking ones and longtime vice president of the World Taekwondo Federation, Soo-Nam Park is within 5 minutes’ walk of my apartment. He is very involved with organizing and testing out new rules etc. and I felt his school was not the ideal one for me so I trained elsewhere. But he runs two large tournaments that are held in Sindelfingen, 20 Km south of Stuttgart. After 12 years and earning my black belt, I dropped out of the scene.

Stuttgart Wagenhallen – container city

There is a special place in Stuttgart a bit south of the main train station to promote culture and the arts. It was originally a large hall for repairing train cars (wagons). Since a few decades it has been home to many artists studios. In 2020 a years’ long project to refurbish it was completed. It has been subdivided inside offering separate rooms of various sizes. Painters, sculptors but also performing artists like jugglers and puppet players are now using it as training and practice space. During the Covid-pandemic, I joined with a group of fellow jugglers to establish a training space here.

Next to the various Wagenhallen buildings is a container village; improvised buildings, many built out of transportation containers used on ships – or even old train or circus wagons. The container city retains more of the free-spirited anarchy mood that the Wagenhallen is known for but  will supposedly be cleared out in the coming years.

stuttgart wagenhallen sign
Wagenhallen Stuttgart
Wagenhallen back-view
stuttgart Wagenhallen train car

Karlshöhe Stuttgart-West

One of my favorite places in Stuttgart-West where I live is a park on a hill called Karlshöhe. It starts a high ridge covered with forest that runs south out of the city. There are many winding paths through the steep Karlshöhe with playgrounds, shelters and a majestic fountain that no longer works with a figure of the Greek god Athena. At the top is a beer-garden, cafe called Tchechen with panoramic views of Stuttgart-South. It is especially a nice place to sit and have a drink towards sunset.

Stuttgart ​Feuersee, Johanneskirche Stuttgart-West

This is a place just a few hundred meters from my apartment; the protestant church Johanneskirche. Next to it is the Feuersee or fire-sea which is a man-made pond originally created to store water to put out fires with. In the evenings in the warm months people garther at the stairs on one side of the pond to relax. There is a weekly flea-market and various events also held here. There are some carp and turtles that people stocked introduced to the pond. Some years ago there were frogs as well but some locals complained that the croaking in the evenings was too loud. Ironic since thre is a major street on one side with more traffic noise than the frogs could have ever produced.

stuttgart-west johannes church
kids Feuersee Stuttgart
statue Feuersee Stuttgart-West
Feuersee Stuttgart Wochenmarkt
Johanneskirche Feuersee Stuttgart
stuttgart-west feuersee church
Johannes church stepple stuttgart

Stuttgart lakes

There is a river that runs through Stuttgart called the Neckar. It is important for boat traffic but neither scenic nor clean enough to swim in so not used to relax at. On the northern outskirts of town is a lake called Max-Eyth-See. The water is murky and while maybe not polluted, too full of algae and muck to swim in. Despite this it is a popular place on weekends for people to have picnics and grill out, especially for foreigners. The setting is nice as there is a slope on one side covered with vineyards. There are a number of places to eat especially a self-service place with a lot of outdoor seating. There are some paddle boats to rent and even a few nice privately owned sail boats, which I find surprising because the lake is so small that with a good wind one could sail across it in under 2 minutes.

Bärensee Stuttgart

A bit southwest of Stuttgart is another lake called Bärensee. Unlike Max Eyth See, it is surrounded by woods and is an area for hiking rather than picnicking or laying out in the sun. It is reserved for nature with no swimming or boats of any kind allowed. There is a small castle like building with a restaurant where Germans like to have their traditional coffee and cake on a Sunday stroll in the outdoors. There is a small animal reserve nearby with deer and wild pigs but despite its name, there are no bears around. This is no surprise since they were all hunted to extinction in Germany over 180 years ago. There is talk of re-introducing bears to some other parts of Germany where they have successfully done so with wolves over the last decade or so. But the last time a bear showed up in Germany, in 2006 after having wandered over the Alps from Italy, he got promptly shot. The people enticed by conservative media panicked that he must be out of control to dare to show up in Germany.

Stuttgart Seilbahn cable-car

Stuttgart has an extensive public transportation system. A special feature of it is a few remaining historical cable cars that take people up some of the slopes. And they are exactly in areas where one otherwise has to take a much longer way around since the modern routes don’t handle the steep inclines. And one can ride the cable cars with a normal ticket rather than needing to pay extra.

Esslingen, Baden-Württemberg

Esslingen is a town of around 94,000 residents on the Neckar River about 14 Km SE of Stuttgart well connected by S-Bahn to the metropolis. Artifacts show it was inhabited by 1000 BC and an outpost of the Roman Empire. I have been in Esslingen numerous times but finally went camera and played tourist taking these photos in May 2024. From the main train station and bus station in front of it, one lands in an area of pedestrian streets with shops. A landmark seen from here is the high brick smoke stack with the word Dick written on it. Rather than some kind of juvenile graffiti, this is actually the name of a local company with a long history of public contribution. And the word dick means thick in German rather than as a slang term for penis. Now the factory area contains the DICK shopping center.  But a few blocks strolling through the walking street and one already comes to a couple of towers (Turm in German) that were once entrances to the old city walls; the Pliensauturm to the south-east and the more picturesque Schelztorturm to the north-east. Also pictured is the Obertor AKA Wolfstor. The German word Tor means gate but usually there is a tower above the gate so I am not sure the difference made between the old “Tor” and “Turms” but half a dozen of the once over 70 in Esslingen still exist. I’m also putting a picture of the Hochwachsturm, which was off on a hill and guarded a way up to the fortress on the hill above the city known as Esslinger Burg.

Esslingen Germany train station
dick smokestack Esslingen Germany
Esslingen Germany pliensauturm
Obertor Esslingen Germany
Esslingen Germany city map sign
Esslingen Germany crepe food truck
historic Esslingen Germany scheltorturm
Esslingen Germany stone hut

Esslingen Marktplatz, Rathaus, Rathausplatz

The heart of Esslingen are the central Marktplatz and Rathausplatz. On the Rathausplatz one has the Alte Rathaus or old city hall and across from it the Ratskeller and the Neue Rathaus or new city hall – although it is also a historical building, unfortunately covered by scaffolding for renovation when I was there.

Esslingen Germany Marktplatz
Esslingen Germany burg
Esslingen Germany old city hall sign
Rathaus Esslingen Germany
Esslingen Germany Ratskeller
Esslingen Germany rathausplatz
Rathaus eagle monument Esslingen Germany
Rathaus fachwerkhause Esslingen Germany
Ratskeller Esslingen Germany

Esslingen Stadtkirche St. Dionys

By the Marktplatz is the beautiful Stadtkirche St. Dionys or city church St. Dionys. Close by is the even larger but not as charming Münster St. Paul or St. Pauls cathedral. St Dinoys is flanked by a number of historical buidlings including a winery and the birth house of Ferdinand Ritter von Hochstetter a famous explorer and scientist.

Esslingen Germany stadtkirche st dionys
Esslingen Germany old city winery
Esslingen Geburtshaus Ferdinand Ritter von Hochstetter
Esslingen Germany Altstadt center
fountain st diony church Esslingen Germany
Esslingen Germany soldier statue
Esslingen Germany historic building

Esslingen Frauenkirche, J. F. Schreiber Museum, Esslinger Burg

North of the Marktplatz over a busy ring road one sees the Frauenkirche or “woman church” on a hill. Next to it to the east is another impressive old building now housing the J.F Schreiber Museum for 19. Century printing. Close to here among a cluster of old half-timbered historical houses starts the “Eingang zu Burgmauer” or the entrance to the castle wall. The Esslinger Burg is on a vineyard covered hill is more fortress than castle with rings of fortified wall, part of which has a wooden covered walkway. It is a nice hike up the hill, green spaces within the fortress compound to relax and beautiful views over the old city center below.

Esslinger Burg fortifications
Esslingen Germany frauenkirche
Esslingen Germany schreiber museum-fachwerkhaus
schrieber museum church Esslingen Germany
Esslingen Germany sundial
Esslingen Germany stairs old city wall
overview Esslingen Germany city wall
Esslingen Germany city wall fortifications
Esslinger Burg Germany
Esslinger Burg wine tradition sign
Esslingen Germany Festung Burg
city fortifications Esslingen Germany
frauenkirche schreiber museum Esslingen
schreiber museum Esslingen Germany
fachwerkhause Esslingen Germany
Esslingen Germany sonnenuhr sign
Esslingen Germany weingut kusterer
Esslingen Germany overview altstadt
panorama Esslingen Germany
Esslinger Burg Germany plaque
Esslinger Burg cannon Germany
Esslingen Germany castle

Esslingen Angesbrücke, Rosneckarkanal, Maillie Park

Back down in the center, just south of the Marktplatz and Rathaus is an area called Klein-Venedig or little Venice with many historical buildings and bridges situated along parallel canals called the Rossneckarkanal or Steed Neckar Canal. There is also a large park called the Maille. In the area is also the Stadtmuseum or city museum but I did not go inside.

Esslingen Germany old city bridge
Esslingen Germany park bridge
Esslingen Germany old city architecture
Esslingen Germany tourist destination
Stadtmuseum Esslingen Germany
Esslingen Germany outdoor cafes restaurants
Esslingen Germany calvery statue
Esslingen Germany old bridge
Esslingen Germany bridge Altstadt
Esslingen Germany Maille park
fountain altstadt Esslingen Germany
historic altstadt Esslingen Germany
historical town Esslingen Germany
Esslingen Germany pedestrian street
Esslingen Germany tourist city
Esslingen Germany lagerhaus

Backnang, Baden-Württemberg

Backnang is a small city about 30 KM northeast of Stuttgart connected by S-Bahn. I took these photos in May of 2024. The surrounding area is forested rolling hills and the Murr River meanders through the town.  In the center of the old city is a hill with a prominent tower known as the Stadtturm or city tower. This was once the steeple of the Michaelskirche or Michael’s church which is over 900 years old and no longer a church. It now belongs to the city but has had various uses at one time being a granary. The bottom part of the building is a half-timbered building once used as a school and now housing the city gallery.

Backnang Germany Stadtturm
Backnang Germany Stadtturm altes schulhaus
Backnang Germany Stadtturm city tower
Galerie der stadt Backnang Germany

Backnang Stiftshof, Schloss, Stiftskirche

Above the Stadtturm is an area known as the Stiftshof; an area of buildings that once belong to regional royalty but the name refers to it time as a monestary complex. The main castle once belonging to a Duke is now the district court; across from it is the beautiful building known as the ehlamalige Stadtverwaltung or former monastery administration building. It apparently was first built as a living space for a prince and later used as a hunting retreat for a duke. Now like most of the major historical buildings in town it is used by the local government. Next to the former castle is the Stiftskirche  (abbey) St. Pankratius. Next door is the Stiftstheater or monastery theater.

Backnang Germany Schloss
Backnang Germany princes castle
Backnang Germany dukes castle Amstgericht
Stiftskirche Backnang Germany
Backnang Germany Stiftshof sign
Backnang Germany prince hunting lodge
Backnang Germany Ehmalige Furstenschloss
Backnang Germany Stiftskirche

Backnang Rathaus – city hall, Rathausplatz – city hall plaza

Below the Stadt tower is the Marktplatz or market place and at the bottom of it one sees the impessive old Rathaus or city hall. Around the corner is the Rathausplatz ringed by old half-timbered buildlings and in the center the Gänsebrunnen or Geese-fountain.  The rest of the photos are from a couple of streets around the city hall

Backnang Germany Marktplatz from city tower
Backnang Germany old city hall city tower
Gaensebrunnen Rathausplatz Backnang Germany
Backnang Germany Marktplatz Marktbrunnen
Backnang Germany Rathausplatz brunnen
Backnang Germany historical old city
Backnang Germany historisches Altstadt
Backnang Germany historical Fachwerkhaus

Schwäbisch Hall, Baden-Württemberg

Schwäbisch Hall is a city of around 40,000 residents about 70 Km northeast of Stuttgart. I had been there multiple times for gigs at Würth a highly reputable company making tools and hardware accessories that has an art museum there and supports multiple cultural projects and facilities. In mid-April 2024 I made a day trip to better explore its extensive old center. The city sits in a valley on the Kocher River. From the main train station we walked north past the Katharina church and directly across the Würth art museum and restaurant. From there we east went by the Johanniter church and old stone bridge.

Schwaebisch Hall panorama river view
Schwaebisch Hall st katherina church
Schwaebisch Hall Germany historical house
Schwaebisch Hall johanniter church Wuert sign
Schwaebisch Hall Germany bridge kocher river

Schwäbisch Hall: Crossing the Kocher River to the east side where most of the historical city lays, we meandered west towards what is called the Kocher Quarter.

Schwaebisch Hall restaurant old town
Schwaebisch Hall Germany H+M
Schwaebisch Hall historical building
Schwaebisch Hall mohren strasse statue
Schwaebisch Hall Germany archways
Schwaebisch Hall Germany Tower
Schwaebisch Hall Germany shopping
Schwaebisch Hall pedestrian stairs
Schwaebisch Hall Germany kulturwand
Schwaebisch Hall Germany old architecture
Germany Schwaebisch Hall pedestrian street
Schwäbisch Hall Josenturm, Josen tower

Near the northern limits of the old city is a beautiful tower that is one of the most photographed sites in Schwäbisch Hall. The Josenturm was built as part of the Judokus chapel.

Schwaebisch Hall historical tower old city
Germany Schwaebisch Hall historical tower

Schwäbisch Hall: Heading back south towards the center of the old town one passes the old watch tower or “alte Wache”

Schwaebisch Hall alte Wache
Schwaebisch Hall watch tower
Schwaebisch Hall Germany backstreet
Schwaebisch Hall Germany historical city center

Schwäbisch Hall: St. Michael church, Marktplatz

In the center of the old town one finds the Marktplatz or market plaza. It is a large open space bordered on the northside by the majestic protestant St. Michael’s church. The extensive stairs in front of the church is a grat palce to obseve the epole walking below and is the setting for various events like concerts and theater productions in the summer.

Schwaebisch Hall St Michael church
st michael church Schwaebisch Hall
Schwaebisch Hall st michael stairs
Schwaebisch Hall st michael angel statue
Schwaebisch Hall marktplatz st michael church
Schwaebisch Hall st michael church archway
Schwaebisch Hall Germany entrance st michael church
Schwaebisch Hall Germany hotel Adelshof
Schwaebisch Hall Germany Marktplatz
Schwaebisch Hall Germany market place
Schwäbisch Hall: Neubausaal, fortifications

South from the Marktplatz one comes to the edge of the old city with visible fortifications and a ditch whwre they now graze goats. Above one sees what looks like a castle but is known as the Neubausaal or “new built halls”. Called new but built in the 1500’s with 2 large rooms where events are still held.

Schwaebisch Hall historic marktplatz buildings
Schwaebisch Hall Germany loewen apotheke
Schwaebisch Hall old town doorway
historic architecture Schwaebisch Hall Germany
Germany Schwaebisch Hall marktplatz doorway
Schwaebisch Hall historic center alleyway
Schwaebisch Hall city fortifications
Schwäbisch Hall: ​Hällisch-Frankisches Museum

Meandering down towards the river from the southern edge of the old town one finds the Hällisch-Frankische Museum. It occupied the old river mill and a next door major historical building called the Keckenturm. It has extensive artifacts going back showing the city and regions history to its earliest times. Lots of religious artifacts, furniture and objects both from simple people to the nobility. Particularly interesting were the many elaborate paintings on circular wood disks that were used as targets for shooting practice. Seemed hard to believe such works of art were created just to shoot at but the many bullet holes are proof enough. They even had a large section showing toys including a traditional Kasperle puppet theater. We only had time to really breeze through most of the exhibits but can imagine visiting again with more time – and the entrance is free.

Schwaebisch Hall museum religious figures
Schwaebisch Hall historic museum sign
Schwaebisch Hall Germany museum toys
Schwaebisch Hall museum crucifix
Schwaebisch Hall museum kasperle theater

Schwäbisch Hall: After the museum we circuled west down towards the river where there are wooden and stone bridges, a park on a small island which was full of construction this day but good views from the river banks on the old city in both directions

Schwaebisch Hall timbered building Germany
Schwaebisch Hall doorway three kings house
Schwaebisch Hall Germany knight statue
Schwaebisch-Hall-Germany-touristi-city
Schwaebisch Hall Germany Sparkasseplatz
Schwaebisch Hall Germany water mill
Schwaebisch Hall Germany bridge tower
timbered house Schwaebisch Hall Germany
Schwaebisch Hall Germany historical center
Schwaebisch Hall Germany Theaterkeller
Schwaebisch Hall barfuesser haus
Schwaebisch Hall Germany outdoor cafe
Schwaebisch Hall wooden bridge
museum Schwaebisch Hall Germany
Schwaebisch Hall Germany river scene

“Kloster” Grosscomburg Monastery

Just 2 kilometers south of Schwäbisch Hall is the large former monastery called Grosscomburg aka “big” Comburg. Founded by the Benedictine order in 1078 it was controlled by different authorities over the centuries and was often associated with nobility rather than the common locals. Schwäbisch Hall and the surrounding areas mostly converted to Protestantism after the reformation but Comburg maintained its Catholic association until the 1800’s when regional nobility took possession of it and soon made it a home for invalid veterans until into the early 1900s when it became an educational institution. It became a Hitler Youth center and displaced persons camp under the Nazis and a teacher’s school since 1947.

The Comburg complex stands out on a hill and is easily visible from Schwäbisch Hall. It would seem to be a nice walk from the city but we managed to get one of the rather infrequent buses that stop a few hundred meters below. Entrance to the complex is free but one needs to pay and take a tour to go inside and see the St. Nicholas church or the St Erhard’s chapel or the St. Michael’s chapel.  We didn’t have the time anyway so we also skipped seeing the nearby Kleincomburg or “little Comburg” a former convent apparently built 30 years later situated below the monastery. This facility was taken over by secular authorities, retaken by the Franciscans in the mid to late 1800’s, taken over by the state and returned to the local Catholic authorities in 2015.

Schwaebisch Hall Germany Comburg monastery
Schwaebisch Hall monestary grosscomburg sign
Schwaebisch Hall gross comburg monastery
Comburg monastery fortifications Germany
Comburg monastery Germany
germany comburg monastery courtyard
comburg monastery tower fortified walls
Schwaebisch Hall Comburg monastery entrance
germany kloster grosscomburg
Germany Comburg monastery flowers
Comburg monastery st nikolaus
comburg monastery historical site germany
comburg monastery st nikolaus church
Comburg monastery Germany interior

Heidelberg

I first went through Heidelberg in 1985 with my French girlfriend. It’s one of those quaint old University towns that American tourists seem to go crazy over. It was nice but I didn’t find the audiences so great and heard that the police often made stress for performers and I never liked having to look over my shoulder. Thus, I rarely bother to go out of my way to visit Heidelberg unless I find myself in the area. Here I am sitting by the fountain in the center of the Marktplatz.

We walked around the extensive castle grounds but did not pay to go inside. I remember being a bit disappointed that much of the structures were ruins although I was more let down at other sites in Europe when I saw restoration jobs that failed to capture the original look and feel. Sometimes it is better to do nothing than to slap some ugly, modern addition on to a middle-aged structure.

Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg

This is Tübingen, a beautiful University town 40 kilometers south of Stuttgart. While I often worked in Stuttgart on weekends, I used to hang out much more in Tübingen back in my early years in Europe. I also happened to have a couple of relationships with students and met my eventual wife there.

Tübingen has the reputation of being a hotbed of liberalism like Berkley. I personally found many of the left-wingers here to be rather naive and unrealistic. They were often full of strong opinions about places they had never been to or things they had never experienced. Despite this,  I shared many of their good intentions to be socially active. Still, it was a comfortable place to be and I always had some friends living there.

Like many old towns, Tübingen is over looked by a castle. One can walk around and through the courtyard but much of the interior space is used as offices.

Central Tübingen; Marktplatz & Rathouse

The cultural if not physical center of Tübingen is the Marketplatz, with the Rathaus or city hall in the background. This used to be my main place to perform in Tübingen. I would wait until the last possibility before it would get too dark and often did huge shows for the young people who would congregate there. This only worked on very warm evenings during the week. On weekends I had the possibility to do many more shows in Stuttgart. Being mostly students, they didn’t give a lot but most people would give at least something.

I have rarely performed in Tübingen since the late 90’s as I moved to Heidenheim, 2 hours drive away and eventually to Stuttgart. A large beer garden also opened up alongside of the Neckar river which seemed to pull away a lot of the better crowd that formerly frequented the Marketplatz in the evenings.

Holzmarkt & Stiftskirche

The other main plaza in the city center is the Holzmarkt or wood market with the Stiftskirche church to the right. The stairs by the church are a nice place to sit and watch people go by but there has never been the right atmosphere to do shows here. There is just one small cafe off to the side unlike the 3 or 4 big ones on the Market Place.

Most of the old town has impressive historical houses; typically adorned with flower pots on the window sills in summer. The last photo in this series is not actually in Tübingen city but a few kilometers away is Bebenhausen with its historical monastery.

Tübingen Castle

On a hill looming over the old center of Tübingen is a relatively small but nice castle. One can walk around the outside enjoyng teh views over teh river and part of the center and in the courtyard. One has to pay to visit the interior however, which is a historical museum run by the University.

Tuebingen castle lower entrance
Tuebinbgen castle courtyard
castle courtyard, Tuebingen, Germany
Tuebingen castle courtyard  fountain
Tuebingen castle entrance
Tuebingen castle museum advertisement
Tuebingen castle

Ludwigsburg

About 40 Km north of Stuttgart is the city of Ludwigsburg. Despite the occasional old building, the city is not particularly impressive with the exception of the residential palace which is one of the largest examples of Baroque architecture in Europe and the biggest royal complex in Germany. In addition to Baroque, there are many architectural elements of Rococo, Neoclassical and Empire styles. There is not just one castle but a complex of 18 buildings built around 2 large courtyards. It also has extensive gardens which alone are a trip for some people. One can take tours that show parts of a couple of the buildings but to see the whole complex, if it were open to the public would take a good day.

Besigheim

There are many small to medium sized towns in Germany that managed to escape major damage during the wars. These are 2 pictures of Besigheim about 40 Km north of Stuttgart with its typical old “Fachwerk” houses.

Bietigheim-Bissingen

Another very nice town close to Besigheim is Bietigheim-Bissingen which has been the backdrop to some very good shows over the years. I established a friendly relationship to the head of the city Culture Office there and they hired me fairly regularly, especially for the annual XXL Festival as seen on this photo.

Heilbronn, Baden-Württemberg

Heilbronn  is a small city of around 128,000 residents about 50 Kilometers north of Stuttgart. It is a pleasant but unspectacular city that was heavily damaged in WWII. The center is a maze of pedestrian streets with large modern shops. The center of it all is the historical Rathaus or city hall which is located on one side of the Marktplatz. On the other side is the large Kilian protestant church dating back to around 1100 with its medieval gargoyles on the steeple. Supposedly there was a basilica on the spot dating back to 741 but this has not been proven. The existing structure was expanded over the centuries and first called Kilian church in 1297. WWII left it heavily damaged and it took from 1947 to 1974 to rebuild. Outside of the church is the holy or healing spring or heil-Brunnen from which the city’s name comes. Close by is the Deutschhof culture center and historical museum. Scattered throughout the center are many impressive metal sculptures. All seem to be human figures although some are rather abstract.

Heilbronn Germany rathaus city hall
Heilbronn Germany tram Kilian church
Heilbronn Kilian church steeple gargoyle
Heilbronn Germany museum
Heilbronn Germany church doorway
Heilbronn Germany statues pedestrian street
Heilbronn Germany mother children statue
Heilbronn Germany Rathaus marktplatz
Heilbronn Germany heilbrunnen
Heilbronn Germany Deutschhof courtyard
Heilbronn Germany deutschhof statue sitting woman
Heilbronn Germany horn blowers statue
Heilbronn Germany naked man statue

Bad Wimpfen

Bad Wimpfen is a well preserved small historical city about 70 kilometers north of Stuttgart, 15 Km north-west of Heilbronn, south-east of Heidelberg. The old city is on a hill over the Neckar River and has fortified walls, towers, churches and characteristic half-timbered houses. Unlike similar medieval cities there is no fortress but multiple imperial buildings that once belonged to the Kaiser. In the valley below where the city extends is also a very large Benedictine monastery which we saw from the train but did not go down to see. The photos are from a visit in early 2024. The train station itself is an old historical building. From there one walks up the hill and through the gate of the old city walls. There is a large but palin stone tower known as the red tower and along the wall another smaller tower that is actually half-timbered and partially red.

Bad Wimpfen armor statue
red tower Bad Wimpfen
Bad Wimpfen city walls archway entrance
Bad Wimpfen old city entrance
Germany Bad Wimpfen train station
Bad Wimpfen archway city entrance flowers
Bad Wimpfen flowers
Bad Wimpfen city wall red tower
Bad Wimpfen red tower view

Moving west from the red tower one passes the Pfalzkappel (Pfalz chapel) and next to it the “Steinhaus” (stone house) which was originally a royal residence and is now a historical museum. Then one sees the Blaue Turm or blue tower that dominates the center of the old city. Built in 1170 it was a watchtower at the east edge of the initial city. It was modified over the centuries but is the older continuously used tower in Germany. Farther along one sees passes teh city hall and across the Marktplatz (market plaza) is the the Ev. Stadtkirch (Protestant city church). First built in 1234 and called the Marienkirche it was expanded immensely over the centuries to its present structure by 1529. After the reformation, protestant liturgy was preached here in 1529 and it became officially Lutheran in 1588. Next to the Stadtkirce is the Kreuzigungsgruppe (crucifiction group) the master piece by the acclaimed sculptor Hans Backoffen built in 1517..

Bad Wimpfen Germany chapel
Bad Wimpfen historical musuem Steinhaus
Bad Wimpfen historical city Germany
Bad Wimpfen blue tower
Bad Wimpfen Marktplatz flowers
Bad Wimpfen Germany Rathaus
Bad Wimpfen Germany city church corner
Bad Wimpfen Germany stadtkirche
Bad Wimpfen stone archways
Bad Wimpfen Baden-Wuerttemberg Fyerabend bar
Bad Wimpfen historical house with gate
Bad Wimpfen Germany blaue Turm blue tower
Marktplatz Bad Wimpfen Germany
Bad Wimpfen crucifix scene
Bad Wimpfen stadtkirche crucifixtion scene

Bad Wimpfen Fachwerkhäuser half-timbered houses

Throughout Bad Wimpfen are many half-timbered old houses known as Fachwerkhäuser.

Bad Wimpfen Adler bar
Bad Wimpfen Germany narrow streets
Bad Wimpfen Hohenstaufenpfalz
Bad Wimpfen Wimpfener bank
Bad Wimpfen Baden-Wuerttemberg street scene
Bad Wimpfen Germany Fachwerkhaus
Bad Wimpfen green shutters building
Bad Wimpfen totto lotto
restaurant Meilenstein bad Wimpfen
Bad Wimpfen August Wieland

Sigmaringen Caste

About 100 KM south of Stuttgart, at the lower edge of the Schwabian Alps, is a small city called Sigmaringen. The iconic feature is the castle which belongs to the Hohenzollern family one of the most important royal families in the region. Although most of the castle was built during later phases of construction and renovation; the original building dates back almost a thousand years. I’ve been there a couple of times but never had the opportunity to visit the castle museum. Most of the castle is still a family residence. There is another museum in town with all kinds of historical things from the middle ages.

Burg Hohenzollern

Approximately 65 Km south of Stuttgart is one of Germany’s finest castles known as Burg (castle) Hohenzollern. It belongs to the same royal family as the Sigmaringen Castle approximately 50 Km further south. While some of the family still lives here, much of the castle is open to tours. It is impressive in style, size and its setting on top of a high hill overlooking a country-side of rolling hills. It is characterized by multiple rings of defense. Many tourists seem to think it is even more idyllic than the more famous Castle Neuschwanstein in Bavaria.

Unfortunately, although I have visited Hohenzollern a number of times I don’t have but a few photos. Pictured is outside the main entrance and a couple views towards the courtyard. Pictures are allowed outside and in the courtyards but not in much of the main interior. To visit from Stuttgart there are train connections to the nearby village of Bisingen. In the warm months there is a special shuttle bus up to and back down to the castle. Otherwise, it cost around 25 Euros each way for a taxi. Making all of the right connections means just a few morning opportunities leaving one enough time to properly see it. Trains from Stuttgart go through Tübingen which is a good combination to see on the way back.

Würzburg, Bavaria – Residenz

Würzburg is a pretty University town on the Main river about 150 KM northeast of Stuttgart. With a population of around 130,000 and a large historical center dating back over 1300 years, it is a laid back and interesting city. The city was heavily bombed in WW II but better restored afterwards than many German cities. One of its main attractions in the UNESCO site known as the Residenz or residence, an extensive baroque palace and accompanying gardens where the local royalty once lived. The building is now a musuem and art gallary. I’ve visted the Residenz on a guided tour but had no camera with me. All of the following photos from Würzburg were taken in early November 2018 while attending the Würzburg Juggling Convention although it was at least my 4th or 5th visit.

Würzburg Cathedral

Some hundreds of meters from the Residenz is the large Würzburg Cathedral known as St. Kilian Dom. It was built starting in 1040 A.D. as the third Catholic cathedral on the spot as the earlier ones built 787 and 855 were mostly destroyed by fire. The main basilica entrance is flanked by twin towers and is in baroque style while the later added side wing known as the Schönborn chapel is late gothic.

Old Main Bridge Würzburg

The Main River (pronounced “mine”) flows through Würzburg. There remains an old bridge on a spot where previous badges had stood going back until at least the 11th century. They were destroyed by flooding over the centuries and its present stone foundation was erected 1476 to 1488. Between the stone pillars the archways were originally wood but overlaid with stone as well in 1512 until 1703. Into the 18th century the bridge was occupied with a strong military presence for defense. In the late 1720’s and early 1730s the iconic religious statutes were added, similar in style to the famous Karl’s Bridge in Prague. Both tourists and locals like to hang out on the bridge or stroll along the adjacent river walkways.

Marienberg Fortress Würzburg

There is a long ridge above the Main River in Würzburg known as Marienberg or the Frauen Berg. At an elevation  of around 100 meters is the Marienberg Fortress with a good view over the historical center. On an adjacent hill is the Marienkapelle or Marien Chapel. As an ideal defensible location, this location had some sort of settlement going back into antiquity. The oldest remaining part of the often expanded structure goes back to 704 A. D. From 1253 until 1719 the Marienberg was occupied by the count-bishop of Würzburg although also occupied by the Swedes 1631 – 1648 during the 30 year war. In the 18 hundreds the Prussian army took the Marienberg and turned it over to the Bavarian monarchy. There is a museum in the fortress which can be visited. Unfortunately, the only picture I got of chapel that belongs to the fortress located on the next hill is almost unrecognizable as I was shooting into the sun.

Würzburg city center, Rathaus & St. Johannes Church

Another beautiful building near the river in central Würzburg is the white Rathaus or city hall building. Pictured is a vertical close up and a view from a distance along one of the streets reserved for pedestrians, trams, taxis and bikes. The photo lower right is just one of the other large churches in the historical center; this one the St. Johannes Church in the Haug neighborhood near the main train station.

Karlsruhe, juggling convention

About 60 Km west of Stuttgart is the sizable city of Karlsruhe. It has some big open spaces but I never card much for the street scene there but occasionally went through as I had many gigs at the nearby quaint town of Ettlingen. The first photo is of Martin, a juggler from the Hamburg area that I first meet around 1985 who was down to attend the big European Juggling Convention held in Karlsruhe in 2008. The parade through the center of the city ended at the Schlossplatz where thousands of residents were pretty blown away by the antics of crazy jugglers.

Not so well received by the police was the idea to pass clubs from on top of one of the castle fountains. Would have been quite the mishap to accidentally damage a historical structure. Karlsruhe hosted the EJC, a big juggling convention, a couple of times to great success as they had plenty of room for training indoors and space for tents for shows and camping outside. With upwards of 6000 visitors, the setting was almost overwhelming but fun.

Munich, Bavaria

Munich is the third largest city in Germany after Berlin and Hamburg and the capital of the southeastern region of Bavaria. I’ve spent a lot of time there over the years, mostly in years past when I was working the streets. I’ve had a some stress with the local conservative Bavarian mentality but it is also very cosmopolitan and a lot to see. I have photos of me juggling in the pedestrian streets in the center but never really took tourist photos of the sites. The photos I am including below were from the European Juggling Convention held in Munich in 2011. It was held at the Olympic Park site which includes various halls and sports facilities which were set up for the Olympics in 1972. The official attendance for the EJC was 7200 making it until now the largest ever gathering of jugglers world-wide.

Although the convention attracted a good number of top juggler there were a number of complaints. It seems the police were often around to make sure everyone was following all of the rules, which turned some people off. The other problem was that the park is so big. We used not just various buildings but there were tents set up and many things happening outdoors. I had a bicycle with me but it was still a long ways between different activities spread out over the site.

Freiburg, southwestern Badenwürttemberg

Freiburg is known as one of the most alternative cities in Germany. Pretty much in the southwestern corner of the country it is a University town surrounded by some of the Black Forest’s nicest scenery. Despite the mountains, it has the warmest climate in the country. Back in my street performing days used to occasionally go there to play on the Augustiner Platz which was one of the best pitches ever. I always had huge responsive audiences and did good hats despite the high ratio of students. The problem was that there was always a large contingency of punks that also hung out there yelling around, begging, throwing bottles and pissing in public. The city decided the solution would be to disallow street performing after 6 pm which was before people even showed up. The theory was that with no shows there would be little reason for people to hang around on this plaza. The result was that there was no longer a really good place for performers and the punks, who weren’t there for the shows anyway remained.

The other reason to go to Freiburg is the Kulturbörse, the largest performing arts showcase in Germany. I twice had a stand there but didn’t find it cost effective without having a performance on one of the stages. But the stages, which are ideal for comedians and magicians, are not really the best place to present a show relying on and audience participation or improvisation. The spontaneous reaction to things like someone going through my show with a baby carriage or dog, or eating an ice cream cone are often the highlight of my performance and just don’t happen on a stage in a hall. But the event is also a place to see shows, meet new people and run into performer colleagues and friends. I never really bothered to take any photos in Freiburg until Jan 2019 when I went back to the Kulturebörse for my first visit in a good 5 or 6 years absence. I didn’t take any photos at the event but did manage a couple of shots of the old city center including a couple of towers, Schwabentor and Martinstor, that would have ringed the early city fortifications.

Münster, Archbishop’s house, Rathaus

One of the icons of Freiburg is the Münster, a cathedral that also has a monastery integrated. There is a large plaza surrounding the cathedral where there are street vendors and occasional outdoor markets. One of the most noticeable buildings on this plaza is the red Kaufhaus an old shop that formerly housed important governmental offices. Nearby are many historical buildings including the Rathaus or city hall.

Ravensburg, Baden-Württemberg, Southern Germany

South of Stuttgart at the Swiss and Austrian borders is the Bodensee, Germany’s largest lake. It is a very pleasant place to swim, sail or bike ride. There are some very pretty towns along Bodensee but I never bothered to take photos despite spending a lot of time over the years performing and relaxing. There is also a historical pretty town about 18 KM north of Bodensee called Ravensburg. This is a collection of photos from the city center taken in 2019.

Ravensburg Germany city center
Ravensburg Germany walking street
Ravensburg southern Germany
Ravensburg Germany church
Weinstube Ravensburg Germany
Ravensburg Germany restaurant outside
Ravensburg city center
Ravensburg pedestrian street
southern Germany Ravensburg
Ravensburg Germany church steeple
Ravensburg Germany pharmacy

Weingarten, Southern Germany

A suburb of Ravensburg is called Weingarten and I performed there in 2019 and 2022. The community is highlighted around a cathedral and monastery on a hill.

So, those were just a few tales from my many travels over the last thirty and something years. I hope you've enjoyed another side of a traveling clown! If you want, write me an email or better yet, book my show or set a link to this website or just state me as the beneficiary of your will!

To book or see more information about Tom's clown show and entertainment, visit one or both of his clown websites:

Clown Stuttgart www.clowntombolton.com

Clown juggler Stuttgart, Gremany www.clown-event.de