Written by Marion Busacker
Stuttgart’s Schlossplatz (Palace Square) is the vibrant heart of the city, but at the same time it’s a place to linger, within easy walking distance of many of the city’s attractions.
Schlossplatz is therefore Stuttgart’s hub and an integral part of any stroll through town. On and around it you’ll find architecture ranging from Baroque to the present day, and a wealth of culture besides. Open-air concerts are held here against the backdrop of the New Palace, and at the beginning of August Stuttgart’s Summer Festival transforms Schlossplatz and the Upper Palace Gardens into a gaily lit, elegant promenade, with crowds soaking up the live music and culinary delights.
In fine weather you can sit on the lawns and steps near the Kunstmuseum (Museum of Art) and enjoy the views of the surrounding city. Originally part of the ducal pleasure garden, the square was a military drill and parade ground from 1746 onward. It was not until the middle of the 19th century that it became a Baroque park that was also for the use of Stuttgart’s inhabitants. In the middle of Schlossplatz towers the Jubilee Column (1841), surmounted by Concordia, goddess of harmony. Behind her is the Neues Schloss (New Palace), whose architecture, thanks to its lengthy construction period from 1746 to 1807, is a mixture of Baroque, Classicism, Rococo, and Empire. Unfortunately, you’ll have to be content with its beautiful façade – the splendid interior houses various ministries and is not open to the public.
This isn’t true of the Altes Schloss (Old Palace), however. The ancestral seat of the first counts and dukes of Württemberg is home to the Württemberg State Museum. Each year its inner courtyard sees the opening of the Stuttgart Wine Village and Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market), one of the largest and loveliest in the whole of Germany.
The Kunstmuseum, a 27m-high glass cube, is no less of an eye-catcher at night, when the concrete core of its interior is aglow, radiating light into Schlossplatz. The museum’s collection comprises over 15,000 works of art from the late 18th century up to the present day. Diagonally opposite is the Kunstgebäude gallery, its cupola surmounted by a golden stag, where regular exhibitions of contemporary art are staged by the Württemberg Art Association. The original building was destroyed in World War II and rebuilt to plans by the architect Paul Bonatz, who also designed the main railway station. Between the Kunstgebäude and the Schlossplatz are the Obere Anlagen (Upper Palace Gardens). Here, a sombre structure with a steel skeleton frame catches the eye: the Landtag, seat of Baden-Württemberg’s parliament. Built in the 1950s, it was purposely designed in a style that would not detract from the classical architecture of the Opera House and State Theatre.
If you prefer shopping to culture, you’ll be in your element in Königstraße, Germany’s longest shopping precinct, which takes you past Schlossplatz and also the Königsbau, Stuttgart’s oldest shopping arcade. The city’s heartbeat at any hour of the day or season of the year, Palace Square is a ‘must’ – if you haven’t seen it, you haven’t seen Stuttgart.
Plenum: where Baden- Wurttem- berg eats.
The Plenum is located on the ground floor of the Landtag building, so you might well find yourself sipping your cappuccino next to an MP – in summer preferably on the large terrace with a view of the Opera House and the Eckensee lake. The Plenum serves fine yet unpretentious food and offers fresh, regional specialities from Baden-Württemberg as well as international cuisine and set meals.
Cube: a feast for all the senses.
Located at the top of the Kunstmuseum, the Cube Restaurant and its lunchtime menus are popular with business people. Book a window table in good time and enjoy excellent food paired with the finest views.