Andreas Braun: Off Down South – discover Baden-Württemberg

A holiday and travel destination, ex­­panses of natural landscape and a rich choice of cultural pursuits – Baden-Württemberg offers a wide range of choices for everyone. This is a state that stands for joie de vivre, good wines, heartiness and a distinct culture of enjoyment.


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Enjoyment – the taste of the south.

The state of Baden-Württemberg is very diverse. Here you will find culinary pleasures for all tastes, whether refreshing wines looking out over vineyards, spicy cheeses in a cheese shop in the Swabian Highlands or an opulent star menu in the Black Forest. Baden-Württemberg always receives praise for its excellent wines and brilliant cuisine – which is confirmed by experts. Whether Guide Michelin, Gault Millau or other gastronomy guides, a good third of all top German restaurants is to be found in Baden-Württemberg. These are not necessarily located in major urban centres but in the country as well. For example, the Black Forest town of Baiers­­bronn not only has a population of 16,000 but also seven Michelin stars, which were issued to a total of three cooks. Baden-Württemberg boasts a wide variety of first-class restaurants featuring good, plain cuisine and its rest­aurants are often located in idyllic rural settings. Cuisine in Baden displays many influences of French cuisine; by contrast, Swabian cuisine tends to be more rural and rustic as its origins go back to the farmers in the region. Besides Maul­taschen, Swabia’s “national dish” (a kind of ravioli), guests can sample other delicacies such as Spätzle (noodles), Knöpfle (similar to Spätzle), roast beef or pizza-like tarte flambée, a speciality from Baden.
In famous wine competitions, winemakers from Baden and Württemberg lead the world with their varieties such as Trollinger, Lemberger and Burgundy-style pinot noir reds Baden-Württemberg covers two wine­­making regions: Baden, which stretches for 400 kilometres from Lake Constance through the Rhine Valley up into Tauber­franken (the Tauber river valley in the region of Franconia), and Württemberg, which stretches from the edge of the Swabian Highlands through the Heilbronn Basin and along the Neckar to the Kocher, Jagst and Tauber rivers. The pinot noir region of Baden is part of the same European winemaking region as Alsace, Cham­pagne or the Loire, and Württemberg (“Swabia”) is the only large winemaking area in Germany where red wines predominate.

 

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Wellness: just breathe deeply.

Baden-Württemberg offers recuperation and relaxation. Health resorts and spas, hot springs and wellness oases are representative of the highest spa culture. In the over 50 health resort locations, people have appreciated the pleasant climate for many years. The Black Forest is known for its health resorts where forests, streams and lakes create a climate said to have curative effects. The traditional health resort of Baden-Baden offers recu­­peration in pure thermal waters, Bad Schönborn is popular for its salt and brine treatments and the oldest moor spa in Bad Wurzach is known for its warming moor-turf treatments.

Health farm holidays in Baden-Württemberg are very popular. Many factors are important, which means that a wellness holiday actually becomes a wellness experience. In hotels, thermal baths and centres which have been awarded the Wellness Stars, guests can be confident that the equipment, the programmes, treatments and the service are just right. Heilbäder und Kurorte Marketing Baden-Württemberg GmbH (HKM) awards these certifications in the categories “Hotels”, “Thermal Baths” and “Medical Wellness” so that all centres have the same, constantly high quality.

Nature: variety pure. Anyone talking about the holiday state of Baden-Württemberg inevitably talks about its natural landscapes. These are fascinating and invite visitors to take part in a wide range of sporting and leisure pursuits. For example, the Black Forest invites with its forests and meadows, gorges, old wind­mills and historic farms. Bordering on Switzerland and Austria and with the Alps behind it, Lake Constance radiates a Mediterranean atmosphere in summer.


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Baden-Württemberg is also the centre of the Baroque era. Along the “Upper Swabian Baroque Route”, one jewel of that era merges with the next. It is worth discovering the landscapes there, whether by walking, cycling, Nordic Walking, cliff-climbing or canoeing. Baden-Württemberg has provided cycling tourists with a network of well-developed cycle-paths and walkers can expect well-signposted and network of tracks such as the Westweg, which dissects the Black Forest from Pforzheim to Basle. Anyone wishing to emulate the pilgrims can do this on the Franconian-Swabian Way of St. James, which leads from Rothenburg ob der Tauber to Ulm in eight stages. The 240 kilometre-long Limes Walking Path follows in the footsteps of the Romans from Miltenberg through the Neckar­tal-Odenwald nature reserves and Swabian-Franconian Forest to Wilburg­stetten.

The nature reserves and the Swabian Highland bio-­sphere region show the im­­pressive breadth of colour in this state. Together with native producers, they take care of these landscapes, preserve and revive old traditions and create the bridge­­head between agriculture, tourism and ecological interests.

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Culture: traditional and modern. The state of Baden-Württemberg is a country of art and culture.
Every year the sights attract thousands of visitors. These include generous castles, such as those in Heidelberg, Hohenzollern or Ludwigsburg. Equally impressive are the smaller castles such as those in Schwetzingen or Meers­burg. Besides these highlights, the one or other small castle, convent, monastery, manor house or estate house invites visitors to see through it or to attend cultural events. Three cultural centres in Baden-Württemberg belong to the UNESCO World Heritage. The Maulbronn Monastery is the best-preserved monastery north of the Alps and today houses a grammar school. On the Island of Reichenau, situated on Lake Constance, stand three Roman churches bearing witness to early mediaeval architecture with their artistic murals. The Upper German-Raetian Limes stretches 550 kilo­metres through Baden-Württemberg.

Buildings were erected in Baden-Württem­­berg in all eras that were typical of the time. In many towns there are also jewels of modern architecture such as the television tower and the new State Gallery in Stuttgart or the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein. Technology, motor vehicles or art, Baden-Württemberg’s museum scene has a full range of exhibits for those interested in “culture vultures”. From modern art to historic farm buildings, there is quite a lot to admire such as the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, the open-air museums in Beuren or in the Odenwald, the State Art Gallery in Karls­ruhe, the State Museum of Technology and Labour in Mannheim, the Zeppelin Museum in Friedrichshafen and the Sch­­muck­­­­mu­se­u­m (jewellery museum) in Pforzheim.

Museums and exhibitions are only a small part of the range of cultural programmes that visitors can go through in Baden-Württemberg. They range from jazz festivals through classical concerts to film festivals and exhibitions. From the State Opera and the world-renowned ballet in Stuttgart, the Festival House (live theatre) in Baden-Baden, the live open-air performances in Schwäbisch Hall to the Music Festival at Weikersheim Castle – Baden-Württemberg’s stages do much to entertain their visitors. Baden-Württemberg’s cities show themselves to be lively and diverse centres. The state capital of Stuttgart convinces with its world-renowned cultural programme. Karlsruhe has become a lively and dynamic major urban centre in which lifestyle is very important. The spa metropolis of Baden-Baden represents the internationally significant horse races (gallops) and what is probably Europe’s most beautiful casino. The city of Mannheim, with its streets designed as quadrants, is modern and multi-cultural and Heidelberg, the site of Germany’s oldest university, is situated picturesquely beneath the famous castle and the imposing Neckar Bridge. Freiburg, Germany’s most southern major city, with its attractive Old Town, boasts the most hours of sunshine. And the cities of Ulm, Pforzheim and the historical cities of Konstanz and Meersburg on Lake Constance are also worth a visit.

Baden-Württemberg is colourful and hospitable, regardless of whether you’re there on holiday, doing a touring of a number of cities, for wellness or cultural pursuits. Whichever kind of holiday you choose, you can be sure of a warm welcome.

 

Braun2-KopieThe author studied German language and literature, Slavic language and literature and history in Tübingen and Vienna. He started his career as a news editor at the Stuttgarter Zeitung in 1986, where he be­­came head of the news department in 1994. He was appointed chief editor of “Sonntag aktuell” in 1997. He has published numerous books about the “connoisseur state” Baden-Württemberg and its wine-making areas.