I must admit that when arriving in Stuttgart I was expecting a – how shall I say – not particularly pretty city. For some reason, I just hadn't heard much about it. And I thought it had been heavily bombed in WWII, ultimately giving rise to something modern but not appealing. I was wrong.
The city, while heavily damaged by the middle of 1945, was rebuilt in a way to preserve its old character. While it did lose a lot of wonderful old structures, Stuttgart successfully built a series of beautiful city parks (all connected by a smart series of bridges), boasts several Bauhaus civic buildings, and painfully reconstructed many 18th- and 19th-century facades. There are pretty squares, parks, and pedestrian zones that dot the city. In fact, it has the longest pedestrian shopping zone in all of Germany.
Two major attractions in Stuttgart are the Mercedes-Benz and Porsche Museums. For car aficionados, these are a must. The museums opened in the mid- to late 2000s and were designed magnificently. The Mercedes-Benz Museum (www.mercedes-benz-classic.com), in particular, attracts design and architecture enthusiasts. The museum charts world history while describing the firm's evolution. Interestingly it was the founder of Mercedes (Gottlieb Daimler) and the founder of Benz who both came up with the world's first motorcar engine in the late 1800s – although oddly they never met. Daimler is generally credited as being first.
Americans often think Henry Ford invented the car. Not true. Ford did, however, invent mass industrial production of the car.
While the Mercedes-Benz Museum tells stories about the famous people who drove their cars, Porsche (www.porsche.com) is all about speed, form, and style, as exemplified by the firm's racing awards. If you love sports cars, go to this museum. It's amazing how the original Porsche design (see photo above) is mostly still influencing current design. Panamera is the newest design and their first sedan-style auto.
For general trip-planning information, see our Germany Travel Guide.