European Car Free Day: The cities with the highest awareness
Want to join in European Car Free Day? The aim of this initiative held every 22 September is to raise awareness about climate change by encouraging people to make their routine journeys on foot, by bike or by public transport. This year, as well as leaving your car at home, we invite you to inject some fun into it: get away to the European cities that are implementing policies to favour pedestrians and take a quiet stroll through the streets without worrying about the traffic.more info
De Stuttgart a las tierras de los sueños
By the southwest of Germany you can find the federal state of Baden-Württemberg and Stuttgart as the capital city. Even the name can be unknown it’s the second most touristic region in the country, full of fascinating spots.
For instance, Stuttgart is the main gateway to enter the mysterious Black Forest, the impressive Constance lake, the stunning mountain rage of Swabian Jura o little fairytale towns like Esslingen, Freiburg, Ludwigsburg, Baden-Baden o Heidelberg. Now it all sounds a bit more familiar, right?
This is an area well known for the cuckoo clocks, famous among German. The Black Forest has a long tradition of cuckoo clocks makers, since 1740. In the touristic town of Triberg you will fins the biggest cuckoo clock in the world, also the second on the list. At 12:00 by noon you can see the 4-meters cuckoo singing.
Another curiosity from Triberg is that is where the traditional recipe of the Black Forest cake, the most famous in German gastronomy, comes from. It’s made of layers of sponge cake, cream and cherry jam. You can find it at Café Schäfer, open since 1915.
If you’re into that, there is also Gengenbach, a fairytale town you can visit. Actually, here is where Tim Burton filmed Charlie & The Chocolate Factory. Not many changes were needed, as the cobbled streets, timbered and flowered balconies make Gengenbach a very charming town already.
Apparently, everything goes big in the little towns of the Black Forest. The windows at Gengenbach City Council (from 17th century) get open from Advent Sunday until Christmas, becoming the biggest Advent Calendar in the world.
To the west of the Black Forest, you will find the university town of Friburgo, considered the greener town in Germany and the one with more sun. Surrounded by nature, this is the perfect place to organize outdoor activities anytime during the year.
Following this series of stories, highlight that the Black Forest is primarily leading on rural tourism because of its large forest, green valleys and large lakes, like Glaswaldsee, Mummelsee, Kimbergsee, Feldsee or Titisee.
But if we have to highlight something, probably the better known spot – as it’s the largest continental lake in Germany – is the Constance Lake, through the borders of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The immensity makes it impossible to look further than an horizon of crystalline water, as if it was an ocean. Here is the final point of the tourist route Architecture of Elegant, almost 3,000 kilometers long.
For the rich enviorment and the little towns surrounding it -Constanza, Lindau or Wasserburg– the Constance Lake is a valuable cultural and natural heritage.
The lake, almost 74 kilometers long, has 3 wonderful islands inside that you can visit. Mainau – which can be reached through a bridge, is a paradise full of flowers and plants, as it’s better known as the ‘Flowers Island’, and a wide variety of butterflies are here. The Lindau Island is known for the port with a lighthouse and the Bavarian Lion and, finally, the Reichenau island, connected to the mainland by a bridge, has a monastery and churches which are condisered Human Heritage by UNESCO.
Swabian Jura goes trough the Baden-Württemberg state. It’s a medium-height mountain range, because of the erosion suffered by the peaks along the years. Danube and other rivers created deep valleys and is also one of the areas in the planet with the largest number of volcanoes.
Along the range there are stunning castles and palaces but, among all of them, the great Hohenllorn castle must be highlighted, it’s located at the top of the mountain of the same name.
The interior houses treasures such as the Crown of William II, personal effects of Frederick II of Prussia or a letter from George Washington to Baron von Steuben.
It’s operative as a museum and one of the main attractions in the area; even it’s a reconstruction built in the 19th century, homage to the Hohenzollern dynasty.
Maineau by Stako | Freiburg by joergens | The biggest cuckoo clockr by MrSurrender | Constance Lake by Markus Bernet | Hohenllorn castle by Uvatter
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Mulhouse la gran desconocida de Alsacia
In this part of France two cities hog most of the visitors – Strasbourg, undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in France, and Colmar, capital of the wine-producing region. However, the little known jewel in the newly created region of the Great East is Mulhouse, once an independent republic, located where three counties meet – France, Germany and Switzerland. Possibly on account of that privileged position, Mulhouse is now one of France’s most active cities in terms of creativity and culture, also partly driven by its importance in the 19th century as a textile centre, which has endowed the city with an interesting industrial heritage.
Mulhouse is the City of Art and History, the first city in the Alsace to be awarded this distinction. One of its major reference points is the Place de la Réunion, the heart of its historic centre, where the easily recognisable standout feature is the pink-coloured old Town Hall. Another landmark in the square is the Protestant Church of Saint-Étienne, with a campanile affording stunning views of the city. Permission is required to go up it.
Mulhouse was one of the first major centres of the textile industry in France. This is attested in the Museum of Printed Textiles, which each year hosts a thematic exhibition linked to some well-known designer. Likewise, the Wesserling Park - Textile Ecomuseum which offers dramatized tours and fashion shows. Other major draws include the examples of industrial architecture (reconditioned former brickwork factories), and the street art and contemporary art to be had in the city centre.
Another venue worth visiting is the Cité de l’Automobile (featuring the Schlumpf Collection), situated just five minutes from downtown Mulhouse. Considered one of the leading automobile museums in the world, it showcases over 400 vehicles, prominent among which is a large collection of Bugattis. The Automobile City, divided into five distinct areas, is a truly interactive museum. Interesting audiovisuals about the automobile industry are screened, while a number of simulators enable visitors to experience what it feels like to drive a racing car.
On the outskirts of Mulhouse, the town of Ungersheim is home to the Alsace Ecomuseum, the largest of its kind in France. Here you can learn about the traditional divisions of the Alsace, what their schools used to be like and what the leading trades were. The most important craftsmen were blacksmiths, cartwrights and potters. It is also amazing to see how they used to cook in earlier times, and how they distilled local spirits. Additionally, you can taste some authentic, traditional dishes like celery gelatine, potatoes with nettles and basil sorbet.
Lastly, if you want to try Alsatian cuisine, we recommend you head for a winstub, the equivalent of a pub in the Alsace – the Restaurant Le Cellier is an ideal example. There you can taste such local specialities as fleischschnakas, an exquisite dish of noodle dough stuffed with meat, flammkuchen or tarte flambée, thinly rolled out bread dough with a topping of raw onion, bacon and single cream, and sauerkraut, accompanied by delicious Alsace wines. And, the best place to go for a drink at night is Le Gambrinus where the atmosphere is welcoming and the craft beer is excellent (bière du Bollwerk).
Mulhouse lends itself to a weekend tour. The EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg, shared by France, Germany and Switzerland, is just 30 minutes away from the city centre. More information on the flights here.
Text by Tusdestinos.netmore info
Paradise in the Forests of Europe
Located in the heart of Europe, alongside the Rhine valley, this lush area of Germany, with its huge pine and fir forests (which give the landscape its characteristic dark colour), green valleys, lakes, waterfalls and charming villages is one of the most picturesque spots in Europe. The Black Forest is now highly coveted for its rural tourism, as it offers endless potential both as a winter destination and during the months of milder weather. It is advisable to hire a car to get around the region. The best option is to prepare your route, in line with your personal preferences, and stick to it, and it is worth seeking out the occasional higher spots to catch a glimpse of the beautiful scenery.
The North (Nordschwarzwald)
Among other things, here lies the source of the Danube (Donaueschingen), Europe’s longest river. Baden-Baden is a city of spa baths, a magnificent thermal resort with a stunning, luxurious mid-19th-century atmosphere. Apart from spa baths, it boasts casinos and venues for international congresses and meetings. Further north, in the upper Kinzig valley, lies Alpirsbach, known for its old brewery and its landmark Benedictine abbey, the oldest and most important Romanesque building in the Black Forest. Some 20 km north of it is the city of Freundenstadt, situated on the east side of a plateau. In this spa resort, with its priceless old quarter, it is well worth strolling around the market square, one of the largest in the district, flanked by buildings with lofty arches, a church and a fountain in the centre. Close by lies Oberkirch, with its old town featuring some historical buildings, Baroque churches and fragments of the old fortified walls. The ruins of Schauenburg Castle still stand on a hilltop.
The Middle Black Forest (Mittlerer Schwarzwald)
Prominent in the Middle Black Forest is Gengenbach, also located in the Kinzig valley. The town is virtually all built of timber and features narrow streets, beautifully restored houses and a charming medieval centre. Numerous rivers flow through this region, notably the Schutter, Acher, Rench and Kinzig, where all kinds of watersports are available. The city of Offenburg, located hard by the French city of Strasbourg, offers a number of attractions, including the Salmen inn, the Charterhouse, the Ritterhaus, a stately home dating from 1784 – currently a museum housing the city archives – the Jewish baths (Mikwe), thought to originate in medieval times and the Royal Palace (Königshof), designed by Michael Ludwig Rohrer.
The Great South
This is where the forest is most luxuriant, thronging with fir trees that blanket the area in dense foliage. Winter is ideal for sleigh-riding here, as in the town of Schluchsee, while the snow-bound villages like Hinterzarten, situated at an altitude of over 900 metres in the southern Black Forest, seem to be inviting us to take snapshots at dusk. The area is also criss-crossed by footpaths used for cross-country skiing. The village offers a wealth of activities for enthusiasts of winter sports. Freiburg is a striking Gothic city where you should make a point of strolling through its narrow streets and squares and visit the marketplace. It boasts an imposing cathedral in mixed Romanesque and Central-European Gothic style.
One of the best-known delicacies of German cuisine is the local Black Forest cake (schwarzwaldtorte),made of chocolate, cherries and cream. Also worth trying is the honey, which here has a fruity flavour. There are also fine wines, most of them white from the Baden region, although they are not listed by appellation d’origine as in Spain. The Rhine is fringed with small grape-growing districts, between the river and the Black Forest mountains. West of the Rhine valley lie the Vosges mountains which shelter the region from Atlantic rainfall. To the east, the Black Forest itself forms a barrier against cold continental winds. In short, a climate conducive to viticulture. The renowned riesling variety of wine hails from Baden-Baden, in the district of Ortenau, which has its vinicultural capital in Durbach. This is home to the Andreas Laible winery, featuring excellent riesling wines, and the Heinrich Männhle winery, which specialises in red wine of the spätburgunder variety. Local fare includes a wealth of regional dishes associated with a particular wine, such as zwiebelkuchen (onion pie), typically accompanied with a young wine known as federweisser.
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Text by Isabel y Luis Comunicación
Photos by TI Schluchsee, Vogtsburg Tourist Board, TI Seebach / Elmar largo Bacher, Tourist-Info Schluchsee, Gengenbach Culture and Germany Tourism. Schwarzwald Tourismusmore info