Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Bad Cannstatt - a suburb of spas

Bad Cannstatt boasts a very long history dating all the way back to 98 A.D., when the Romans founded it as Canstat ad Neccarum, or Cannstatt on the Neckar. It was one the largest of the Roman settlements in southern Germany in what is today the Federal State of Baden-Württemberg. Today it is an integral part of, and the largest and oldest district in, Stuttgart, the modern-day capital of the state. 

Old Town of Bad Cannstatt's church tower on a late summer afternoon.

I lived in Bad Cannstatt for almost five years before moving over to Karlsruhe. The photos I have here depict the historical parts of the town (now suburb) which I found most interesting. To be very honest, the Old Town area of Bad Cannstatt, which is situated directly on a bend in the Neckar River, could use a very good sprucing up. Except for several very good restaurants, the Old Town needs a major facelift which could, in my opinion, help to create a much more marketable and very attractive tourist area. Still, that does not mean you shouldn't visit! As you will see in my photographs, there is much to see. I just made a point of not including the "stuff" that I don't want you to see. And, I haven't even included all the good things here; there is still much more left for you to discover on your own!

Shutter-framed windows in a small courtyard near the City Church

There is much that does go on in this district located on the NNW fringe of the original city limits of Stuttgart (It was annexed to Stuttgart at the beginning of the 20th century). The Cannstatter Wasen takes place along the river near the Old Town; Rosenstein Palace, former home to Württemberg's longest reigning monarch and today Stuttgart's Natural History Museum, is situated on the hill above the river directly across from the Old Town; beautiful vineyards on the slopes above the Neckar River; and a variety of neighborhoods of various centuries which combined with the oldest standing building in the district together make a span of over 500 years of architecture. 

The main street which runs past the Rathaus in the background.

If you should ever visit, do not allow the local transportation hub of Wilhelmsplatz to cause you to turn around and leave. There is no other way to describe it: it's ugly. But the Old Town is meters away and from there, anyone who is willing to explore all the back streets and to even take the time to bike or hike along the river paths in the direction of Hofen, you will not be disappointed. The vineyards and places to taste wine when in season are most definitely worth it. 

The Neckar as it approaches the small town of Hofen, located on the edge of Bad Cannstatt
Vineyards line much of the river.

Tourist boats are moored on the river's banks below the Old Town and an afternoon sailing up the Neckar towards Ludwigsburg on one of them would most definitely be an enjoyment. 

Tour boats docked beneath Schloß Rosenstein direct across for the Old Town in Bad Cannstatt

It would be wrong of me to forget to explain why Bad Cannstatt is a Bad, or "spa" town. A town may not bear that "title" without having one. The city is well-known for its mineral-water baths and spas. The district alone has several, the oldest of which was begun in 1825 by King Wilhelm I of Württemberg. König-Karl-Straße, the street from Wilhelmsplatz on which the number 2 streetcar runs in the direction of Neureut, will take any biker or pedestrian right by the beautiful park and historical spa itself. A stone's throw away from the spa, you can easily find where in the early 1880s Gottlieb Daimler worked on the engine for the first automobile. The local police thought he was counterfeiting money!

The first Kursaal, or "Spa Salon", otherwise known as the "Pump Room" when first built.
Its royal patron, King Wilhelm I, is honored in front. He also lived in Bad Cannstatt, though Stuttgart was his capital.

(Left) Mr. Daimler's workshop.  

(Right) The second photo shows what he ended up with.
The frozen Neckar River as it passes the Cannstatter Wasen, home to the Volksfest

The Wilhelma warrants its own blog page, and it will indeed have one when I get around to it. The Wilhelma was the private pleasure retreat and zoo of King Wilhelm I of Württemberg, who built it in the Moorish style of the Alhambra, but named it after himself: "Wilhelm-a". Get it? Alhambra? --> Wilhelma? Right, I thought at first it was named after a lady. Ha! Oh well, despite him being pretty bad tempered to his own family, I reckon the old king had a sense of humor in an egocentric sort of way. But hey, he was the king, right? The Wilhelma is extremely popular to visit - and absolutely worth it! It is probably the most elegant zoo you will ever visit.

Above, you can see one of the beautiful terra-cotta walls surrounding the Wilhelma. The zoo, situated below the 19th-century-king's favorite residence of Schloß Rosenstein along the Neckar River, is open to the public and a must-see for its array of animals and the buildings that grace its extensive grounds.

View from my old neighborhood in Bad Cannstatt
The vineyards are just beginning to turn green
in the spring sunshine.

Same vineyard as taken from the bridge in winter
Autumn colors before the harvest.

Now you know how they cut the grass between the rows of grape vines. 
(You should see the driver clinging to the wheel as he drives uphill!)

And the summer view from my hill
This was without a doubt one of my most favorite views in all of Stuttgart

Turning around in the same spot from which I took the photograph above this one, the Neckar River can be seen making it was through Bad Cannstatt. Stuttgart city is in the far background almost invisible. The Old Town of Bad Cannstatt is not visible but it sits on the left bank of the river past the high white train trestle in the middle of the photo.

Late autumn evening along the Neckar

Rathaus and City Church in the center of Bad Cannstatt's Old Town.
On market day, there is a wonderful open-air fresh-produce and flower market in the square behind the Rathaus

The Rathaus in the late afternoon

Roof line of the houses on the Market Street before a storm

Side street in Bad Cannstatt. Part of the old city wall can be seen dividing 
the two houses. The one on the leftwas built within the wall. The one on 
the right was built a bit later. It was common for homes or other structures 
to use the city wall as a wall in their own building as well.

One of my favorite houses in Bad Cannstatt, located up against the inside of the old wall.
A bit of the stonework can be seen on the far-right of the photo.

A late 19th century mansion located very near the Old Town.  
Restoration was recently finished in 2012.

I don't know if this building still serves as an inn, but the sign is still there in any case.

One of a number of very good restaurants to be found in Bad Cannstatt.
The 1618 date denoting the high-water mark of a flood from long, long 

ago can be seen chiseled into the stonework of the building.
"Zickle" means "little goat" in Swabian.

An example of Fachwerk, or half-timbered
structures still in Bad Cannstatt.

Technically still in the Old Town, but located outside of where the wall
was and next to the river,  I can only say that I just like the green 

wooden porch!

City church (Stiftskirche) bell tower

Local coffee shop - one of many

Lot's of young families with children live in the Old Town 

This is part of the oldest building in Stuttgart: the Beginen Klösterle, 
built in 1463The Beginen (Beguine) were an order of lay-nuns 
dating back to the Middle Ages

Today, this beautiful building, restored in 1983, is now a restaurant,
but the inside of the building has changed very little.
The chapel is still located on an upper floor.

Note the joints and patterns of the building. Perhaps it was enlarged/widened long ago?

Last but not least, I must say that I, a born chocoholic, would be amiss if I did not inform you, dear reader, that the Rittersport chocolate bar was first produced in Bad Cannstatt. Today, the factory and chocolate museum are located south of Stuttgart, but Bad Cannstatt does take pride in being the home of automobiles and chocolate: unlike alcohol, two things which can go together.

There is indeed much to see in Bad Cannstatt, so I guess I could say, "Just see it!"

Close-up of the bell tower.


  1. This is a great post. Thank you!! Chocolate and cars are two of my favorite things in life so it sounds like I will need to visit Bad Cannstatt one day. Actually I'm moving to Stuttgart in a couple of months and working in Untertuerkheim. Would Bad Cannstatt be a good place to live as a single person in your opinion? In any case - thanks for the post!! :)

    1. Hi Jennifer. Thank you for your comment, and so sorry not to get back to you a long time ago, but I only found your comment today. I lived in Bad Cannstatt for almost 5 years. There is so much character to be found in this very large "suburb" of of Stuttgart, but unfortunately, most Stuttgarters do not speak well of the place as the central tram stop is indeed simply ugly. It was bombed out in the war. However, the actual old town is reflected in a number of the photos above and the immediate neighborhoods of that have well-preserved architecture. There are other parts of Bad Cannstatt that contain their own immediate character. One just has to walk around the place and get to know it before passing judgment. The train station there is pretty central and important and only one stop from the main station across the river in Stuttgart.
      Don't listen to the snobs who put B-C down; they are merely people who truly have not bothered to look around there. There are even vineyards in B-C as well, where I lived. Perhaps by now you are already in Stuttgart. Untertürkheim has its own great places for tasting and producing wine (though I would be bored living there), and there is also a World Heritage town, which I have yet to add to the blog, called Esslingen. This is also in the greater Stuttgart area although an independent and VERY historical city, beautifully preserved with much to offer. All the best and welcome to Southern Germany.