Stuttgart is the capital and largest city of the state of Baden-Württemberg in southwest Germany. The eighth largest city in Germany, Stuttgart has a population of 600,068 (October 2014) while the greater Stuttgart Metropolitan Region has a population of 5.3 million being the fourth-biggest in Germany after the Rhine-Ruhr area, Berlin/Brandenburg and Frankfurt/Rhine-Main. The city lies at the centre of a densely populated area, surrounded by a ring of smaller towns. This area called Stuttgart Region has a population of 2.7 million.
Stuttgart is spread across a variety of hills (many of them vineyards), valleys and parks – unusual for a German city and often a source of surprise to visitors who primarily associate the city with its industrial reputation as the 'cradle of the automobile'. Stuttgart has the status of Stadtkreis, a type of self-administrating urban county. It is also the seat of the State Parliament and State Government of Baden-Württemberg, the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Württemberg as well as one of the two co-seats of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart.
The city of Stuttgart ranked 21st globally in Mercer's 2015 liveability rankings, and 6th in Germany behind top-ranked cities such as Frankfurt, Düsseldorf and Munich. For economic and social innovation, the city was ranked 11th globally, second in Germany after Hamburg and 7th in Europe in 2009 out of 256 cities.
Stuttgart is nicknamed the Schwabenmetropole (Swabian metropolis), because of the city's location in the centre of Swabia, and as a reference to the Swabian dialect spoken by its native inhabitants. In that dialect, the city's name is pronounced Schtugert or Schtuagerd. However, many non-Swabian Germans have emigrated to Stuttgart for economic reasons and 40% of Stuttgart's residents, and 64% of the population below the age of five are of foreign immigrant background.
The cradle of the automobile
The automobile and motorcycle were purported to have been invented in Stuttgart (by Karl Benz and subsequently industrialised in 1887 by Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach at the Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft). As a result, it is considered to be the starting point of the worldwide automotive industry and is sometimes referred to as the 'cradle of the automobile'. Today, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche both have their headquarters in Stuttgart, as well as automotive parts giants Bosch and Mahle. A number of auto-enthusiast magazines are published in Stuttgart.
Culture and events
Stuttgart is known for its rich cultural heritage, in particular its State Theatre (Staatstheater) and State Gallery (Staatsgalerie). The Staatstheater is home to the State opera and three smaller theatres and it regularly stages opera, ballet and theatre productions as well as concerts. The Staatstheater was named Germany/Austria/Switzerland 'Theatre of the year' in 2006; the Stuttgart Opera has won the 'Opera of the year' award six times. Stuttgart Ballet is connected to names like John Cranko and Marcia Haydée.
Stuttgart is also home to one of Germany's most prestigious symphony orchestras, the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, with famous English conductor Sir Roger Norrington, who developed a distinct sound of that orchestra, known as the Stuttgart Sound. They mostly perform in the Liederhalle concert hall.
The city offers two broadway-style musical theatres, the Apollo and the Palladium Theater (each approx. 1800 seats). Ludwigsburg Palace in the nearby town of Ludwigsburg is also used throughout the year as a venue for concerts and cultural events.
The Schleyerhalle sports arena is regularly used to stage rock and pop concerts with major international stars on European tour.
Stuttgart's Swabian cuisine, beer and wine have been produced in the area since the 17th century and are now famous throughout Germany and beyond.] For example, Gaisburger Marsch is a stew that was invented in Stuttgart's Gaisburg area of Stuttgart East. In October 2009 the Stuttgart Ministry of Agriculture announced that the European Union was to officially recognise the pasta dish Maultaschen as a "regional speciality", thus marking its significance to the cultural heritage of Baden-Württemberg.
Regular events that take place in Stuttgart:
- The world-famous annual 'Volksfest', originally a traditional agricultural fair which now also hosts beer tents and a French village and is second in size only to the Oktoberfest in Munich. There is also a Spring festival on the same grounds in April of each year.
- With more than 3.6 million visitors in 2007 and more than 200 stands, Stuttgart's Christmas Market is the largest and one of the oldest and most beautiful traditional Christmas markets in Europe. It is especially renowned for its abundant decorations and takes place in the four weeks leading up to Christmas
- The Summer Festival (Stuttgart Sommerfest, usually in early August) with shows, music, children's entertainment and local cuisine in Schlossplatz, Stuttgart] and adjacent parks
- The Lantern Festival (Lichterfest, early July) in Killesberg park with its famous firework display and fairground attractions
- The Wine Village (Weindorf, late August/early September) – vintages are sold at this event held at Schlossplatz and Upper Palace Garden