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Fans of polished chrome, the hum of an engine and sleek German engineering need not look further than Stuttgart — known as the cradle of the automotive industry. In the late 19th century, Karl Benz invented both the automobile and motorcycle in the capital city of Baden-Wurttemberg and, today, Stuttgart continues to crank out the kind of cars that bring autophiles to their knees, including the iconic Porsche 911 and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
Anyone who appreciates automobiles, architecture or history will want to pay a visit to Stuttgart’s Mercedes-Benz Museum, designed by Dutch firm, UNStudio van Berkel & Bos. The glass-and-aluminum structure recalls a double-helix with weaving concrete spiral ramps and features two pod-like elevators suitable for the likes of George Jetson. The museum aims to transport visitors back to 1886, the birth year of the car, and show them more than 125 years of automotive history though classic collections, reportage, race cars and a simulation ride that puts guests in the driver’s seat.
Stuttgart is the only city in the world with two major car museums, and it’s a matter of pride that both museums showcase some of the most sought-after automobiles on earth. A case in point, the Porsche-Museum is currently paying tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Porsche 911. Through Sept. 29, more than 40 different versions of the 911 are on display, starting with the Urelfer and continuing to the present, including rare series models and race cars as well as numerous prototypes, which are being presented to the public for the first time.
While many tourists visit Stuttgart for wheels and steel, they will want to return for the region’s wine and local Swabian cuisine. Stuttgart is Germany’s largest wine-growing municipality, and one of the city’s vineyards, Kriegsberg, is located directly in the city center.
Aug. 28 through Sept. 8 is an ideal time for foodies to schedule a visit. During this two-week span, the Stuttgart Wine Village will celebrate the region’s food and wine scene with more than 500 wines, from Trollinger (the city’s most popular red) to the refreshing summer rose, Schillerwein. Between the Stuttgart Market and Schiller Square, visitors can sample Swabian specialties including maultaschen (stuffed pasta squares) with potato salad and spatzle (egg noodles). The smell of onion pie, roast beef and schupfnudeln (potato noodles) will also fill the air.
Beer, however, takes center stage in late September — this is Germany after all. The annual Stuttgart Beer Festival is the second-largest beer festival in the country, after Munich’s Oktoberfest, and features live bands, carnival rides, fair food and festive beer tents that can seat up to 5,000 people each. This year’s festival is scheduled for Sept. 27 to Oct. 13 — plenty of time to find the appropriate pair of lederhosen.
Stuttgart Convention Bureaustuttgart-tourist.de/en
Earlier this month, during the 39th annual Germany Travel Mart (GTM), more than 600 international buyers, tourism professionals and journalists had the opportunity to experience Stuttgart firsthand — including a private party at the world-famous Mercedes-Benz Museum — and meet face-to-face with exhibitors representing the best of Germany. Besides learning about the latest products and services in Germany as well as its new hospitality and transportation offerings, guests were invited to evening networking events at Stuttgart’s New Palace and the baroque Ludwigsburg Palace located in nearby Ludwigsburg.
“We are delighted to welcome the GTM again this year, having previously hosted it in 1988 and 2002,” said Armin Dellnitz, managing director of Stuttgart-Marketing GmbH, during a press conference at the Porsche-Museum in Stuttgart. “The greater Stuttgart area has seen dynamic growth in recent years, as [GTM] delegates will be able to see for themselves.”
Stuttgart’s city tourism has registered a steady upward trend over the years. Since 2000, the number of overnight stays has risen by 51 percent, which equates to an average annual increase of 3.5 percent. In 2012, Stuttgart had its biggest year to date with 3.1 million overnight stays. The U.S. is Stuttgart’s number one foreign source market.