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Baden-Württemberg Travel Guide

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Lichtenstein Castle (© sashpictures - Fotolia.com)
Lichtenstein Castle.

Introduction

Baden-Württemberg is third largest German state both in terms of area and population. It was created in December 1951 by the merger of the states of Württemberg-Baden, Württemberg-Hohenzollern and South Baden. Its capital is Stuttgart.

Baden-Württemberg borders on (clockwise from the North) the German states of Rhineland-Palatinate, Hesse and Bavaria, Switzerland, and Alsace in France.

It has a surface area of 35,752 km² (slightly bigger than Belgium), a population of 10,741,000 inhabitants (almost exactly like Belgium). It is divided into 35 districts (Kreise) and 9 independent cities (Stadtkreise).

The Danube, Europe's longest river (outside Russia) has its source in the Black Forest, in the south of Baden-Württemberg.

People in Baden-Württemberg speak four distinct dialects of Upper German : South Franconian (in the northwest, around Heidelberg, Heilbronn and Karlsruhe), Swabian (most of the center and east, including Stuttgart, Ulm and Hohenzollern), Low Alemanic (west and south, from Alsace to Lake Constance) and High Alemanic (in the south-western corner, near Basel and Winterthur).

Famous people from Baden-Württemberg include (chronologically): the mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler, the poet and playwright Friedrich Schiller, the philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, the engineer and industrialist Gottlieb Daimler, the aircraft manufacturer Ferdinand von Zeppelin, the car engineer Karl Benz, the industrialist and engineer Robert Bosch, the poet and novelist Hermann Hesse, the physicist Albert Einstein, the fashion designer Hugo Boss, Chancellor Helmut Kohl, the tennis player Boris Becker and the tennis player Steffi Graf.

History

The region was settled in ancient times by various Germanic tribes known collectively as the Swabians (also called Suebi or Suevi or Alamanni). Conquered by Julius Caesar, the area became part of the Roman Province of Gallia Belgica, then to its subdivision of Germania Superior (with its capital in Moguntiacum, present-day Mainz).

Originally a loose confederation of unrelated tribes, the Alamanni underwent coalescence during the 3rd century, and were ruled by kings throughout the 4th and 5th centuries. In 406, some of them joined the Alans and Vandals in the invasion of the crumbling Roman Empire. They crossed the Pyrenees and settled in the Roman province of Gallaecia, were accepted by Emperor Honorius as foederati, and created their own Suebian kingdom of Gallaecia.

In 496, those who had stayed in Swabia were defeated by Clovis I, King of the Franks, at the Battle of Tolbiac. In the 6th and 7th centuries, Swabia became a Frankish duchy, one of the original stem duchies of Germany.

Following the Treaty of Verdun of 843 splitting Charlemagne's Empire between his three grandsons, Swabia was granted to Louis the German, King of East Francia (the precursor of the Holy Roman Empire).

In the 10th century, the Duchy of Swabia comprised most of Baden-Württemberg (except the north), as well as Alsace and northern Switzerland. The region of Heidelberg belonged to Franconia.

Later in medieval times what is now Baden-Württemberg belonged notably to the Palatinate of the Rhine, the Margraviate of Baden, the Duchy of Württemberg, the Duchy of Fürstenberg, the County (then Principality) of Hohenzollern (several subdivisions), as well as various Habsburg fiefs.

The Habsburg family originated in southern Swabia, in present day Switzerland, and progressively expanded their domain until becoming the most powerful monarchy on the continent. The Hohenzollern went on to become Burgraves of Nuremberg, Margraves (then Duke-Electors) of Brandenburg, Dukes (then Kings) of Prussia, and eventually Emperors of Germany.

Napoleon elevated Baden to the Grand Duchy, and Württemberg to a Kingdom. Both became his allies against Prussia. In 1871, the Grand Duchy of Baden and the Kingdom of Württemberg joined the new German Empire.

Attractions

Attractions are listed geographically, from west to east (left to right) and north to south (top to bottom).

Baden

Mannheim Palace
Mannheim Palace
outstanding Mannheim may be one of Germany's most unsightly cities, but its sumptuous electroral palace is definitely worth a stop. All started in 1720 when Charles III Philip, Elector Palatine, decided to move his capital...Read more
Heidelberg
Heidelberg (© line-of-sight - Fotolia.com)
must-see High on the itinerary of tourist hordes, Heidelberg conjures up images of the romantic Rhine valley, with its exquisite hybrid castle looming over from the woody hills in the backdrop. Rebuilt entirely in the Baroque style in...Read more




Karlsruhe Palace
Karlsruhe Palace (© nemesis2207 - Fotolia.com)
outstanding Unprepossessing in itself, Karlsruhe was built around its sumptuous palace, with 32 streets radiate from the palace like the ribs on a folding fan. The palace was erected in 1715 by Margrave Charles III William of Baden-Durlach...Read more
Baden-Baden
Casino of Baden-Baden (© mariokcomp - Fotolia.com)
outstanding Baden-Baden is the most prestigious of German thermal resorts, an elegant 19th-century town with tree-lined avenues, luxury hotels, trimmed gardens, and of course its famous casino. Queen Victoria, Wilhelm I, Napoleon III...Read more
Freiburg im Breisgau
Freiburg (© peresanz - Fotolia.com)
outstanding Nestled on the western edge of the Black Forest, close to the French and Swiss borders, Freiburg is a renowned university town with a distinct Alsatian feel. Freiburg is situated at the heart of the Baden wine-growing...Read more

Other attractions

outstanding Black Forest
outstanding Europa Park
very good St. Blasien

West Württemberg

Ludwigsburg Palace
Ludwigsburg Palace (© clearlens - Fotolia.com)
must-see 12 km north of Stuttgart, Ludwigsburg is home to the principal royal palace of the House of Württemberg. With 450 rooms spread around 18 buildings, it is one of Europe's largest Baroque palaces...Read more
Stuttgart
Stuttgart (© Jürgen Effner - Fotolia.com)
must-see The state capital, Stuttgart is a grand city of culture, monuments and museums. Set amidst hills and parks, it is one of the greenest cities in Europe. Known as the 'cradle of the automobile', it is the home of Mercedes-Benz...Read more
Tübingen
Tübingen (© Jens Hilberger - Fotolia.com)
must-see Tübingen is a colourful university town where students make up a fourth of the population. Overlooked by the medieval castle and bathed by the Neckar, the old town of half-timbered houses survived WWII unscathed...Read more
Lichtenstein Castle
Lichtenstein Castle (© sashpictures - Fotolia.com)
outstanding The perfect romantic castle, set high in the Swabian Alb overlooking the Echaz valley, Lichtenstein Castle is a mid-19th century Neo-Gothic folly erected on medieval ruins. The original medieval castle was first built...Read more
Hohenzollern Castle
Hohenzollern Castle (© clearlens - Fotolia.com)
must-see Roosted on top of a lone hill dominating the landscape, Burg Hohenzollern is the ancestral home of the eponymous family, which became Kings of Prussia then German Emperors. The modern castle was constructed for Frederick William IV...Read more
Sigmaringen Castle
Sigmaringen Castle (photo by Salsaloco - Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license)
outstanding Schloss Sigmaringen was the main residence and seat of government of the Princes of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, the cadet branch of the Hohenzollern family, from which the German Emperors stemmed. The castle was rebuilt following...Read more

Other attractions

very good Heilbronn
outstanding Reichenau Monastic Island

East Württemberg

Weikersheim Castle
Schloss Weikersheim (© Ansebach - Fotolia.com)
very good Schloss Weikersheim is a large Renaissance palace built by the Count of Wighartesheim at the end of the 16th century. Jeunesses Musicales International, the largest youth music NGO in the world, holds classical concerts and...Read more



Schwäbisch Hall
Schwäbisch Hall (© clearlens - Fotolia.com)
must-see Schwäbisch Hall is an enchanting traditional town filled with old, colourful timber-framed houses built on top of the fortified banks of the Kocher river. Hall flourished in the Middle Ages thanks to the production of salt and coins. Emperor Frederick I...Read more
Ulm
Town hall of Ulm (© Karin Schöneberger - Fotolia.com)
outstanding Located on the Danube, straddling the border with Bavaria, Ulm is know for being the birthplace of Albert Einstein, and for its cathedral, Ulm Minster, which boasts the tallest steeple in the world (161 m / 530 ft)...Read more



Konstanz
Konstanz (© Ansebach - Fotolia.com)
outstanding Facing the shores of the Bodensee and the snowy summits of Switzerland, Konstanz lies at the centre of the historical Duchy of Swabia. Now a vibrant university town, part of Konstanz' appeal lies in its unblemished...Read more

Other attractions

outstanding Langenburg Castle
very good Ravensburg

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