Germany is full of contrasts. When you hear about the country, at first your mind constructs majestic industrial cities and well-developed infrastructure build up on the all-round base of innovations. But there is a different side of Germany – with eventful history and centuries-old traditions. If you want to discover that aspect of the country, you need to go by the cities and travel across small towns and villages cherishing the traces of the past through all that centuries. This summer we were lucky to experience that very Germany (and a bit of Switserland, but that is later on). Along with Visit Europe and European Institute of Cultural Routes, we went to the Baden-Württemberg state, and explored "The Huguenots and Waldensians trail" – the cultural route that follows the track of religious refugees from France and Italy to the lands of Germany and Switzerland. As we promised earlier, we want to tell you more about the most interesting places to visit there!
We started our way in Stuttgart – the capital of Baden-Württemberg state. The city is worth at least a day because it’s quite large, and is also considered one of the most important cultural centers of the country. Less suffered from the bombing, Stuttgart can offer a huge number of historical attractions and museums. For history buffs it’s definitely worth to visit the Old Castle (Altes Schloss), Botanical Garden Wilhelma and the Baden-Württemberg House of History. If you are more about modern places, there are Carl-Zeiss-Planetarium, "Porsche" and “Mercedes-Benz" museums. In the evening, after the enjoyed day in Stuttgart, we went to Oberderdingen, where we spent the night in a small and cozy hotel Linden.
This is not only the name of the township, as one might have thought. In fact it is a commune, uniting three districts: Oberderdingen, Flehingen and Grosvillars. The commune is famous for its winemaking traditions. Germany and wine? Yes, here the wine is quite good! First mentions of vineyards here are dated by XIII century and a bunch of grape is depicted on the local coat of arms. That is why the first place we visited in the morning was the local vinothek :) After the wine tasting we made our way to village Grosvillars and wondered how unexpectedly beautiful this way was! The municipality is located in the national park Stromberg and it is surrounded by 120 hectares of vineyards, so every hill brought a completely breath taking view. The surrounding sunny landscape and perfect weather contributed to a pleasant walk in the grape alleys. In fact, this region is well worth to travel without ambitious plans – it is much better to jump into a car full of friends in the morning and rush to the road, making stops at beautiful places to walk, take pictures and try wines in local wineries. Locals says Oberendignen is especially nice in autumn, when everything around is yellowing and the "new wine"– the very first in a wine season – is coming.
Knittlingen is mainly known as one of the supposed birthplaces of the Faust. Yes, exactly that Faust from the famous play. In fact, he was a real person. His life and personality gave so many reasons for mossy legends, that he became the prototype for the well-known work. There is a museum dedicated to this mystical character, so if you are Goethe’s fan you are definitely recommended to make a visit.
It was one of the most interesting stops. The city is famous for its monastery of the same name, which is the best-preserved medieval Cistercian monastery complex in Europe. We really like places where centuries-old traditions interlace organically with modern life – that is what we haunting to capture. Maulbronn is the place: every corner here conveys people’s life of the passed centuries and everything around seems untouched since the foundation time. The monastery is still open to anyone and there is a school historically linked to such famous names as Friedrich Holderlin and Hermann Hesse. The school is functioning, so one can see present-day students playing football in the backyard or hear a music lesson in the hall.
These are not all the places we have been through during the travel. Black forest of Calw, the golden city Pforzheim, the magnificent ruins of the Hohentwiel Fortress and the northernmost Swiss cities Shaffhauzen and Lenzburg were waiting for us those days. But it is hard to fit them all in a post, so stay tuned!:)