Showing posts with label King Wilhelm I. Show all posts
Showing posts with label King Wilhelm I. Show all posts

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Fountains at Schlossplatz

This post is dedicated to the memory of Trish, a wonderful photographer from Canada, who had such appreciation for and gave the most supportive and encouraging words to the rest of us regarding our own photography. I will miss your kind words, Trish. Fly high!

North fountain in front of the Neues Schloss (New Palace) in Stuttgart

The two massive fountains that grace the park in front of the New Palace in central Stuttgart are quite beautiful. And they are huge. They date back to 1863, the year before King Wilhelm I died at Rosenstein Palace, not too far away.

The fountains were meant as birthday gifts to His Majesty. At the base of each fountain are four figures, each representing the four of principal rivers that flow through what is today the federal state of Baden-Württemberg. As there are two fountains, that of course brings the total number of such figures to eight, although there are many more than eight rivers in Württemberg.

The names of the rivers represented on the fountain to the left, when facing the palace, are the Jagst, Donau, Tauber and the Nagold. On the fountain to the right, which is to the south, are the Neckar, Kocher, Fils and Enz.  The fountains were cast in Wasseralfingen, which is today a part of the city of Aalen.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Cannstatter Wasen: a Stuttgart tradition

(© Copyright 2012)

Anyone who claims to know anything about Stuttgart is aware of one thing for sure: in the district of Bad Cannstatt, across the footbridge from Berg, lies about 85 flat, open acres known as "the Wasen". This long, rectangular strip of land on the north-east bank of the Neckar River is a popular place indeed to all who live and, well, celebrate here. Six years from now, this beloved piece of real estate will celebrate its 200th anniversary, and this writer has the feeling that due to its reputation, it will see a celebration the likes of which will not be seen for a long time thereafter. However, although its origins were to celebrate good fortune, the situation leading up to that were not good at all.

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Throughout the growing seasons between 1815 and 1817, the little Kingdom of Württemberg suffered the worst famine in its history. Crops failed miserably due to remarkably cold temperatures which lasted throughout the year leaving hardly any summer at all. The people suffered miserably. Many would starve. 

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Young King Wilhelm I received grain shipments from the Tsar of Russia to help relieve the desperate situation. When crops finally began to yield produce once again, the king and queen held a festival in what is known as the Wasen in Cannstatt to celebrate the positive change in the people's fortune. It was held on the king's birthday, September 28, 1818. He decreed that every year thereafter on this day, the festival, otherwise known today simply as "The Wasen", would be held.

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The Wasen, located in what is known today as Bad Cannstatt, is a large fairground of approximately 85 acres which is located right along the banks of the Neckar River, very close to where Rosenstein Palace stands today.

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Tradition takes root                                                                                                    
Throughout the 19th century and first part of the 20th until the fall of the monarchy and establishmentof the Weimar Republic in 1918, the fall festival, known as the Volksfest, was held for only one day. It was an agricultural fair with prizes and awards given out for agricultural accomplishments. Thousands attended the event despite limited time of one day. In the 1920s it was expanded to just under a week and in the 1970s it was lengthened to just over two weeks. Agriculture is still a part of the theme during this time, but rides and other attractions have long taken over the festival's skyline and now it is the second largest festival in Germany after Munich's Oktoberfest, which has only just wound down when Stuttgart's huge party begins.  

The festival which takes place during the spring, beginning mid April through the middle of May is known as the Spring Festival or Frühlingsfest. Because there are two festivals in the year at the Wasen, people tend to mix the names and call both of   the events the Volksfest and I really don't think many people are too overly concerned about it. The most important thing is that everyone has a good time. And certainly this writer can attest: they do!

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So what is Frankie Avalon doing at the Stuttgart Frühlingsfest? Well, as can be seen in most of these photographs, the festival is similar to so many other festivals around the world. As this writer walks around the Fest grounds, the references to American and British pop stars from the past are obvious. If the huge beer halls with traditional music bellowing out of them were not so in abundance through fair lanes, it would be very obvious that one was in Germany.  

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Some people mistakenly call it Stuttgart's "Oktoberfest". It isn't. Certainly beer flows throughout the tents and halls, but doesn't it flow at just about every public event in Germany? Right, so that isn't the only thing that makes this festival what it is today.

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Interestingly enough, so many millions attend the festival during its duration that it makes it one of the largest such festival attractions in the world! I don't live so far away from the Wasen and I go by the festival grounds on the train or streetcar almost every day. The crowds are mind-boggling, but it all seems to work. It's worth walking through, at least, to see people in national costumes all over. Young people today are more and more caught up in the atmosphere of wearing traditional dress for the occasion, although some of the outfits tend to be borrowed from their Bavarian neighbor's styles than those of the traditional Württembergers. Oh well, it's colorful and a good time is had by all!

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The Ferris-wheel is said to be the largest portable Ferris-wheel in the world! I think the emphasis is on "portable" because it certainly isn't there the rest of the year. Now, that big thing on the banks of the Thames in London is notably larger, of course, but I don't see that going anywhere any other times of the year.  

Even though the fair-ways could be mistaken for any fair in North America, there is one thing that makes it all German: the massive beer tents with benches and tables and music and singing and eating and large mugs of beer in every hand. You are allowed to stand on the wooden benches to sway arm-in-arm with your neighbor while singing all the songs, but never stand on the table: it just ain't fittin'!   

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Rosenstein Palace and Park on the Neckar

Rosenstein Palace (© Copyright 2012)
Rosenstein Palace, or Schloß Rosenstein in German, is the former country seat of Wilhelm I, second and longest reigning king of Württemberg. Yet, it is no longer really in the country. The city of Stuttgart has grown so, that Rosenstein today is well within the greater urban area. It is presently home to the State Museum for Natural History of Stuttgart, but upon its completion in 1829 and grand opening in 1830, Rosenstein was the favorite residence of King Wilhelm and is where he died in 1864. It remained one of several royal residences until 1918, when Württemberg became a Free State (republic) and joined the Weimar Republic. In 1919, following Word War I, its furnishings and paintings were sold at public auction.

Autumn at Rosenstein Palace  (© Copyright 2012)

The small palace sits on a bluff once known in German as Kahlenstein, or "bare rock", as there was little if anything growing there. When the palace was planned, the name was changed to Rosenstein, or "pink rock". Rosenstein Palace overlooks a bend in the Neckar River, which winds its way through the district of Stuttgart known as Bad Cannstatt. At the time of Wilhelm I's reign, Bad Cannstatt was an independent town before uniting with Stuttgart in 1905. Even today, Bad Cannstatt is still proud to call Rosenstein Palace its own.

Excursion boats on the Neckar River just below the palace.  (© Copyright 2012)

Court architect Giovanni Salucci designed the palace in the second half of the 1820s.  He was to design the Wilhelmspalais in the center of Stuttgart shortly thereafter. The classic design on the outside of the palace is still visible today despite the drastic changes to the interior following its devastating fire during the Second World War. 

Rosenstein affords not only a view of the Neckar River and the old town of Bad Cannstatt, but also the Wilhelma Zoo. The zoo was originally built as a private pleasure park and retreat by King Wilhelm where he could entertain all sorts of private guests. Exotic plants and animals were brought there as well. The moorish style of the buildings found within the park echoes that of the Alhambra in Spain. A number of those structures, used for a variety of personal functions in the king's day, still stand. The zoo and gardens are definitely worthy of a visit.

Rosenstein Park, which surrounds the palace, is filled with stately chestnut trees which fill the grounds in autumn with abundant quantities of their beautiful fruits which many Stuttgarters love to collect. In the fall, the colors of the trees mixed with maples and other species provide a beautiful walk, run or bicycle ride for visitors. In the summer months, the lawns are nice for picnics as well. 

The palace is part of the greater Stuttgart Schloßpark system which begins in the middle of the city at the New Palace, or Neues Schloß. The distance between the two palaces is a very nice walk through beautiful, tree-lined allées dating back almost 200 years. 

One of the legacies of King Wilhelm I was the establishing of the Royal Württemberg State Railways. Toward the end of October 1845, the first railway line was in operation between Bad Cannstatt and Untertürkheim, where the Rotenberg is located (see previous "Rotenberg am Neckar"). Soon after, a tunnel was dug directly under Rosenstein for the train which was to go into the city of Stuttgart. The tunnel is disused today, but the sealed entrance can still be seen following a little walk just below the main path between the palace and the river. A new tunnel has since been constructed not far from there.

Very close to the Rosenstein, also within walking distance, is the smaller Villa Berg, later home to King Wilhelm I's heir, King Karl I, and his Russian wife, the well-remembered Queen Olga. Two of the cities numerous mineral spas can also be found directly to the east of the palace grounds. The famous Cannstatter Wasen, or fair ground, is also within close walking distance.
In 1877, some years after King Wilhelm's death, King Karl I opened Rosenstein to the public to view the collection of paintings his father had purchased for the palace many years before. In addition to the art and furnishings of the palace, the gardens contain some interesting and beautiful plants and trees such as Sequoia as well as the rose garden which was created during the reign of King Karl.

Sequoia on the grounds of Rosenstein Palace  (© Copyright 2012)

Rose garden in late spring  (© Copyright 2012)

Rosenstein may not be a grand or opulent palace as many might expect a king's home to be, but it is stately nonetheless. Many foreign visitors to the city do not often make their way to the palace as there are no roads or parking lots leading up to it. It is all on foot with street car or local train stations and platforms within walking distance. Exploring the palace park on foot particularly from spring through autumn combined with the Wilhelma Zoo down the hill is certainly worth the effort.
One of two lions guarding the south entrance to the palace  (© Copyright 2012)

Rosenstein Park in the fall   (© Copyright 2012)