Baden-Baden isn’t a demanding place in terms of monuments and landmarks. The pace is relaxed, and the streets are geared toward pleasurable strolls. The time-honored center of activity is Lichtentaler Allee, an elegant park promenade lined with rhododendrons, azaleas, roses, and ornamental trees set along the bank of the narrow Oosbach River (called the Oos; pronounced ohs). At the north end of the promenade are the formally landscaped grounds of the Kurgarten and the neoclassical Kurhaus, built in the 18th century as a “Promenade House,” where the rich and prominent came to see and be seen. It’s been the hub of Baden-Baden’s social scene ever since, used for receptions and galas, and one wing houses Baden-Baden’s casino. You’ll also want to step into the Trinkhalle (Pump Room) for a sip of the medicinal waters that have been bubbling up for more than 17,000 years and have a look at the frescoes depicting Black Forest legends.
The 217m (712-ft.) Fernsehturm (Television Tower), capped with a red-and-white transmitter, soars above a forested hillock south of Stuttgart. It was designed and built in 1956 using radically innovative applications of aluminum and prestressed reinforced concrete, and served as a prototype for larger towers in Toronto and Moscow. A 150m (490-ft.) elevator ride delivers you to a cafe, bar, restaurant, observation platform, and displays detailing the tower’s construction. Food is served daily 10am to 8pm. The entrance is at Jahnstrasse 120, Stuttgart-Degerloch ([tel] 0711/232597; www.fernsehturm-stuttgart.com). Admission is 5€ adults, 3€ children, and the tower is open daily, 9am to 10:30pm. Take tram 15 from the center.For a more bucolic view of Stuttgart, climb to the top of the 510m (1,670-ft.) Birkenkopf, west of the city, topped off with debris dumped here after World War II to make it the tallest hill in Stuttgart—a green reminder that bombing attacks leveled 60 percent of the city, sparing not a single landmark or historic structure. After the 20-minute walk to the top, you’ll be rewarded by a view of the rebuilt city and the surrounding Swabian Hills, covered with vineyards and woods. Bus 92 will drop you at the trailhead.
You encounter the word “Swabia” a lot in Stuttgart. Swabia (Schwaben in German) is the name for a medieval duchy now contained within the federal state of Baden-Württemberg in southwestern Germany, of which Stuttgart is capital. The name comes from Suevi, the original inhabitants, who were conquered by the Franks in the A.D. 5th century. The name “Stuttgart” comes from a stud farm owned by Luidolf, Duke of Swabia, and son of Emperor Otto the Great. With Stuttgart as its capital, Swabia has been a leader of German industry for decades, but the region also is renowned for its scenic countryside. To the north, the Schwäbische Wald (Swabian Forest) stretches to the Schwäbische Alb, a wedge of limestone upland south of Stuttgart. Forests sweep south to the Bodensee, also part of Swabia, and west to the Danube River. The smaller Neckar River flows past Heidelberg and Stuttgart through a vineyard-covered valley.
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