In my first post about coming to Stuttgart, I mentioned about how much of the city was destroyed during the second world war but that's not the case with some of the smaller, nearby towns. Diana and I went to visit Esslingen, which is about 20 minutes via train south of the center of Stuttgart, to check out one of the best preserved areas in this part of Germany.
A large part of Esslingen, including its medieval-era core, was spared because it was occupied by allied forces during the war:
The town is much more the how I had pictured Germany before actually coming here -- it's full of the "classic" (or maybe stereotypical?) half-timbered buildings and scenery. This is the Marktplatz (Market Square) in the center of town that shows some of that architecture:
On the opposite side of the Marktplatz is the very cool looking Altes Rathaus, or Old Town Hall (note the lovely MINI parked out front):
Esslingen, also located on the Neckar river, is older than Stuttgart having documented history back to at least the 8th century. Most of what's here, though, dates from the middle ages and on. In this photo, you can see an old half-timbered building, which used to house the wine presses of the local hospital (I want to work at a hospital like that!), in the mid-ground and part of the city's old fortification wall above:
You can walk along part of the old wall and go up to see the Esslingen Berg (castle). To get there, you need to climb up the hill via a couple of hundred stairs. It's a little tough but the views make it worthwhile. In this photo, you can see some of the town's vineyards in the foreground, the Stadtkirche (city church) with its unusual mismatched towers, and the surrounding valley:
One of the more unexpected things that we came across was that some of the buildings in the town are built over parts of the local waterways. Residents have named the area Klein Venedig, or Little Venice, for its similarity to how Venice Italy (or for that matter, Venice Beach, California) looks. To the right of what you can see in the photo below, there are working water wheels that are generating power. The small building that houses the wheels has a digital indicator that shows how much power is being generated.
Esslingen used to be one of the centers of wine making here in Baden Würtenburg. Since we were there on a Sunday, not a lot was open but the town is definitely on my list of places to visit (again) to learn about and experience the local wine-making traditions. As Arnie said, I'll be back...