We drove to Schloss Ludwigsburg, which I believe translates as Louis’s Castle.
The gardens were beautiful with a central fountain, topiary and flower beds. Elaborate Sand sculptures surrounded the garden. No words can do them justice, so you will just have to look at the pictures on Instagram.
The palace started out as a simple hunting lodge but, in a spate of serious German willy-waving was extended to 450 rooms which needed 800 servants.
We splashed out €7 each on a 45 minute guided tour in English which took us around part of the palace. The details are a bit hazy – it was mostly about, not surprisingly, kings and queens and their various marriages to cousins across Europe. There seems to have been some serious inbreeding across several generations which may explain a lot. Talking of willy-waving, one of the kings reputedly had somewhere between 300 and 400 illegitimate children. I forget which king. It may have been William the first, or maybe a Frederick or an Eberhard. You have to say the last name out loud to appreciate it.
Later, we visited the Birkenkopf, which is a 511 metre high hill in Stuttgart, the highest point in the city.
During the war, 53 Allied bombing missions destroyed over 45% of Stuttgart, and nearly the entire city centre. Between 1953 and 1957, 1.5 million cubic metres of rubble were cleared and moved to the hill which resulted in an increase in height of around 40 metres.
We walked up the long winding path to the top. At the summit there were many recognisable facades from ruined buildings. The ruins were towered over by a giant iron cross.
It’s hard not to think of World War II when the results of destruction are sitting there starting you in the face. It is a place for contemplation. For reflection. A warning not to follow crazed demagogues of the right.
In a sombre mood I took a few pictures and wandered the ruins and rubble. There were lots of Germans, some walking dogs, some admiring the view, some sitting silently looking out over the city. Flowers were growing amongst the ruins. Children were playing and climbing the stones. A sign of hope perhaps.
A plaque at the top reads:
“This mountain piled up after World War II from the rubble of the city stands as a memorial to the victims and a warning to the living.”
It would be nice if we learned from history rather than repeat past mistakes, wouldn’t it?