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Stuttgart: the perfect combination of culture and cars.

There are cars you drive... and then there are cars you dream of. Stuttgart has both in abundance. Not only does the city produce internationally renowned cars, but it also lives and breathes automotive history in a way that nowhere else does. Drivers' dreams become reality when they visit Stuttgart.

The car has many fathers, but just one home town. Since the day Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach put together the first ever small, high-speed petrol engine in the glasshouse they used as workshop (now a much-visited attraction), that home town has been none other than Stuttgart. That was in 1885, and the three-pointed star has shone brightly over the automotive world ever since. Nowhere does this shine brighter, of course, than above the Mercedes-Benz Museum, the only museum in the world to present the history of the automotive industry from start to finish. Before you even step foot in the building you are struck by the museum's futuristic design – and once inside, you cannot fail to be mesmerised by the 160 automotive gems on display. There are other treasures on show at the Mercedes-Benz Classic Car Centre in Fellbach, including such motoring legends as the 300 SL gullwing. Another brand known for its iconic vehicles is, of course, Porsche – and the classics in the Porsche Museum are guaranteed to turn heads. At the heritage-listed former regional airport, the Meilenwerk is a favourite among fans of vintage vehicles, featuring everything they could ever need for keeping their prized possessions looking as good as new, as well as a place to stay in the form of the V8 Hotel. Every March, fans of classic cars from around the world descend on Stuttgart for the Retro Classics, Germany's best-loved motor show. Retro Classic meets Baroque, meanwhile, offers the exclusive opportunity to see classic cars set against the historical backdrop of stunning Ludwigsburg Palace.

Back in the present day, a tour of the Mercedes-Benz plant in Sindelfingen offers an in-depth look behind the scenes at a state-of-the-art car factory – something that is sure to reawaken one or two hidden desires for such a prestige purchase. Nevertheless, it doesn't take long to realise that Stuttgart has more to offer than automotive temptation alone. The surrounding wine region, one of the largest in Germany, plays a significant part in the Stuttgart locals' other passions: exquisite food and fine wine. Stuttgart's restaurants and cafés offer up a whole range of gastronomic treats, from spätzle noodles to pinot noir, from corner pubs to award-winning, internationally renowned restaurants. Festivals of every size, the most famous being the Cannstatter Wasen, provide ample opportunity to join in the celebrations, enjoy the local hospitality and live life to the full. The perfect starting point for a sightseeing tour here is Schlossplatz square: in virtually no other city does a palace dominate the centre to such an extent as Stuttgart's Neues Schloss (New Palace). For those who have spent the day admiring the exceptional collection of modernist and contemporary art in the neighbouring Stuttgart Art Museum, or learning about history from the Stone Age to the modern era at the Altes Schloss (Old Palace), an evening of sophistication and relaxation is in order. And when it comes to the performing arts, Stuttgart is once again first class. Its State Theatre is the largest multi-genre theatre in the world and its ballet, theatrical productions and state opera have all enjoyed international acclaim for decades. Music lovers are well catered for by Stuttgart's acclaimed orchestras, its many jazz clubs and the musicals performed in the SI-Centrum entertainment complex. Alternatively, you can browse the world-class shopping streets of Königstrasse and Calwerstrasse at your leisure. And be sure to make time to discover the much-loved Wilhelma Gardens. These remarkable zoological and botanical gardens are home to around 8,000 animals, making this one of the world's most bio-diverse zoos. What's more, there's not a car in sight, so you might just forget where you are.

City Highlights

The collections at the State Gallery in Baden-Württemberg's regional capital Stuttgart have been shaped by their roots in Württemberg's history but also by the international approach the gallery has adopted since the Second World War. Opened as the Museum of Fine Arts in 1843, the gallery became the New State Gallery in 1984, occupying a striking new building designed by British architect and Pritzker prize winner James Stirling.

The New State Gallery houses a collection of international standing that spans eight centuries. Art from 1800 to 1900 and works from the 20th century provide the main areas of focus. The 19th century is featured in paintings by Caspar David Friedrich, Anselm Feuerbach, Édouard Manet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Claude Monet and Paul Cézanne. From the 20th century there are outstanding individual works and important ensembles by Paul Klee, Max Beckmann, Pablo Picasso, Oskar Kokoschka, Willi Baumeister, Oskar Schlemmer, Hans Arp, Georg Baselitz and Anselm Kiefer. Post-1945 art is also represented by works of International Abstraction, Pop Art, Concept Art, Minimalism, Land Art and new movements that have emerged since 1980.
The collection is complemented by works from earlier periods, from Old German Paintings from 1300 to 1550, Italian paintings from 1300 to 1800, Dutch paintings from 1500 to 1700 – including works by Rubens and Rembrandt – through to German paintings of the baroque era.
The Department of Prints and Drawings includes examples from every country in Europe and every artistic era since the Middle Ages.

The Stuttgart Ballet company has a long and distinguished history stretching back as far as 1609. Acclaimed choreographers made Stuttgart one of Europe's most highly regarded centres of dance in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. John Cranko took over as director and chief choreographer in 1961 and went on to write one of the most successful chapters in the history of the Stuttgart Ballet over the next twelve years, while carving out a unique position for himself among the world's top choreographers. Stuttgart Ballet has been one of the leading ensembles in the world for more than 40 years.

A leafy urban centre surrounded by forests and vineyards, Stuttgart is the ideal place for a wine tour. Just a short hop from the main railway station, the vines stretch up across the sunny slopes of the Neckar Valley. Stuttgart can look back on a long history of wine-making traditions, and these are kept alive on vineyard tours, at numerous wine and vintners' festivals and during the popular Stuttgart Wine Festival. The wine trail is also a fantastic way to explore the hilly vine-clad countryside all around the city – and enjoy some wine tasting along the way.

Stuttgart is home to two of the leading names in the automotive world, Daimler-Benz and Porsche – both of which have erected spectacular museums in the city.

The breathtaking Mercedes-Benz Museum looks back on some of the finest feats from the world of mobility. No fewer than nine floors are needed to display a total of more than 1,500 exhibits tracing the unique history of the brand. Visitors can learn all about the legendary Porsche marque at the Porsche Museum in Zuffenhausen. The exhibition space at this dazzling white museum is held up by just three pillars and looks as if it is about to take off. Even during construction, its bold architecture grabbed the headlines. Read more

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