Stuttgart is the capital of the German federal State Baden-Wuerttemberg. Baden-Wuerttemberg was founded in 1952 and is a federation of the former duchy of Baden, the duchy of Hohenzollern and the former Kingdom of Wuerttemberg. It is located to the South-West of Germany and borders with Switzerland to the South and France to the West.

Apart from being the capital of Baden-Wuerttemberg it is also the sixt largest city in Germany. This might sound pompous but in fact it isn't. With an area of just 207.36 square km (80.1 square miles) and a population of around 590.000 it is hardly what you'd call a metropolis. However, the area around Stuttgart is densely populated and regarded as the Region Stuttgart, together with the actual city the regions adds up to a proud 2.7 million citizens.

What most do not know is that Stuttgart, apart from being the craddle of the automotive, is one of the greenest cities in Germany. The inner city is surrounded by a series of gardens which are known as the Green U. These vast green spaces are very popular with the locals and offer a breathing space to all those who want to escape the buzz of the heavily overcrowded - and often congested - city. The parks offer several kilometers of walking trails and some of the main attractions of the town, like the Wilhelma (zoo), the State Theatre, Rosenstein Castle (museum), some of the Thermal baths and the Planetarium of the city are located within those parks - together with some ever popular beer gardens. On top of this Stuttgart is surrounded by expansive woodlands which offer even more walking trails - and beer gardens.

In Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt and Stuttgart-Berg you can find the second largest mineral spas in Europe - only the mineral water sources in Budapest are larger.You can enjoy a splash in those waters in one of Stuttgart's mineral baths and try a cup of it. They say it is very healthy and has healing powers but I'd rather stay to splashing in it - it tastes horrible !

Apart from the cars, the greeneries and the spas there are some excellent museums to be found.

The State Museum of Wurttemberg can be found in the Old Castle.The museum traces the history of the state back until the stone ages and showcases a lot of artifacts that used to belong to the house of Wurttemberg, including it's crown jewels. OK, I admit, there is no hope diamond and Queen Elisabeth's crown jewels are surely not only more valuable but also more famous than the jewelery of the small house of Wurttemberg but if you've ever seen the queues in the tower you need to pass to see Elisabeth's diamonds you'll appreciate this small collection even more. The whole museum is usally not too full and you won't have to queue or be pushed around in front of the best exhibits.

The State Gallery is divided into an older and a newer part which are located next to each other.Both houses together offer a remarkable collection of pieces of art, including works by Rubens, Dali, Picasso, Rembrandt, Renoir, Kandinsky and many more. A second art museum has opened a few years ago on Stuttgart's centre piece, the Schlossplatz. This museum is located in a large glass cube and is dedicated to modern art.

In the Lowentor Museum you can visit the Steinheimer Skull and dinosaurs, while the Stuttgart State Museum of Natural History can be found in the Rosenstein Park.

Mercedes Benz and Porsche, of course, have both their own museums. Each of them is well worth a visit, especially if you are interested in cars, but their vintage cars should do enough to win more or less everyone over.

If you are growing up in a city going out sooner or later becomes a very important issue for you. Parks with plenty of playgrounds and a huge zoo might be nice while you are small but will cease to interest you latest when you start to take interest in the other sex. While I was in my teens we considered Stuttgart to be the "deadest" city on the planet and I was only too happy to visit my friends in Berlin with its - then - legendary scene.

Things have brighten up immensely in that sector and Stuttgart offers plenty of etablishments to have a good time in the evening. Like in many other cities the small cinemas have closed down and been replaced by huge multi-screen movie temples.The party-mile in town can be found in the Theodor Heuss Strasse where a large number of bars, clubs and pubs can be found but also other ares, like the Bohnenviertel, the Calwer Strasse or the area around the Hans-im-Glueck-Brunnen offer many places to hang out and have some drinks.

Restaurants are plentiful and offer about every cuisine from around the globe. You might not to keen on trying the local Swabian dishes, although there is no reason why you shouldn't, but surely won't be starved.

For shopping visit the Koenigstrasse, Stuttgarts pedestrian zone, and the surrounding pedestrianised streets. From German department stores over designer boutiques to specialty shops you will find whatever you might be looking for. The most up-beat department store is Breuninger, which can be found opposite side of the Rathaus. Apparently Boris Becker is a regular here.

Getting around is easy, the public transport system is good and runs on a really regular schedule. They offer special passes which are well worth considering. Go to the underground passage in front of the main station to get them. The Stuttgart SSB has a large information and sales office there and surely you will find somebody who speaks English and happy to advice.

Still not convinced that there might be anything here that would interest you ?

Then maybe Stuttgart's festivals will. The Volksfest is Germany's second largest beer festival. This huge fair was founded as a harvest festival in 1818 by King Wilhelm of Wurttemberg. In the meantime it attracts every year millions of visitors from all around the world. A smaller version is held during spring and called Fruhlingsfest - it is still large enough to attract a few million though.Both offer huge beertents where the beer is sold by the litre in glass or stein tankarts, a fun fair with rides for all ages and a market.

If wine is more you thing I recommend the ever so popular Weindorf. Very cosy and wonderful wines from the area which you will probably never get to see in your local store. They hardly ever export any of their wines from here - they like them so much they prefer to drink them and leave none that could be sold elsewhere. Wintertime you can visit the Christmas Market, one of the largest in Germany. The lovingly decorated stalls are worth seeing and the mulled wine will keep you warm.

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