Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Stuttgart Schlossgarten Running Route

Click here for route map 
Length 7 km (4.3 miles), terraing fairly flat

Stuttgart Routes List:
Schlossgarten Park  
Rosenstein Park  

TV Tower hills  
Bärensee lakes  
Vineyards  

Stuttgart Airport woods 
For more running routes, see Route List.

If you're visiting Stuttgart and you just take out a map and go run, you'll probably quickly find yourself going up and down some steep hills. Almost the whole town in built on valleys crawling up the hillsides.

If you're like me, and come from the Great Neutral-Gravitational Flatlands, then you might want to first find a flat stretch to run before you tackle the high ones. That's what this route does: stays on a long, flat park, the Schlossgarten, stretching from the old town down to the Neckar River about 3.5km away. It only dips downhill about 20 meters along the whole way to the river.
Running in the Schlossgarten
And this is definitely Stuttgart's number one route, full of runners and bicyclists. We'll actually start a couple of blocks west of the Schlossgarten, to begin in the most scenic old town square: Lessingplatz.

The Stuttgart Schlossgarten Running Route
Lessingplatz is named after the German poet, whose statue dominates the center of the square. The platz is bounded by some of Stuttgart's most beautiful old buildings: the old castle, the Alte Kanzelei (Old Chancellory), the main church (Stiftskirche), and the old Justice Ministry building.

On Tuesday mornings, a flower market fills the square.
Schillerplatz, our starting point, with old castle in background
So take a good look around, and let's head off. First we'll turn towards the old castle, with its round corner-towers. Run through the side entrance into the beautiful courtyard, with its gothic galleries and the mounted statue of King Wilhelm. This was the main castle of the old Dukes of Würtemberg. Later they got the title Kings of Würtemberg, and moved into the Neues Schloss (New Palace) across the street.
King Wilhelm sounding the call in the Altes Schloss
Now turn left and run northeast out the other exit, crossing the zebra stripes to the large Schlossplatz, with its winged victory column and fountains on the left, and the new palace on the right. This building was constructed in the 1700s, and used as a palace until the last king abdicated at the end of World War I, in 1918. It was destroyed in World War II, but rebuilt, and now houses a couple of state government ministries (Stuttgart is the capital of the state of Baden-Würtemberg).
Neues Schloss (new palace)
Run past the palace, then turn right to run into the Schlossgarten. This section, like the Schlossplatz, is full of people on nice days. The park is never more than about 250 meters wide, and is bisected by two busy roads. You have to cross the roads on pedestrian bridges.
Entering the Schlossgarten
There are paths running along both sides of the Schlossgarten, but this route follows the southeast side going out and the northwest side heading back.

So just run towards the right side of the park, past the pond and head northeast. The boxy glass building right next to the Schloss is the state parliament building. This first section is the Oberer (upper) Schlossgarten.

You'll pass a museum on the right, then some fountains, and soon you'll hit the first pedestrian bridge over Schillerstrasse. 
On the way across the first bridge
When you reach the other side, you are now in the Mittlerer (middle) Schlossgarten.

This section doesn't look so nice at the moment. There is a gigantic construction project going on with the train station to the north of the park. The project, Stuttgart21, is a real local controversy, sometimes almost producing civil-war-like conditions. There are often riot police hanging around the area, and people constantly writing things on the construction fence, and demonstrations happen regularly, almost daily.
The Stuttgart21 project
Right now, the middle lawn is fenced off and unusable.

On the right side, you'll pass some ruined stairs, the last remaining bit of a renaissance-era theater that once stood here but burned down a hundred years ago.
Running past the ruined stairway
There is a pond with café in this section, just before the next bridge over to the final, and longest section, the Unterer (lower) Schlossgarten, about a kilometer long. This last section is a bit more natural, with some uncut meadows in the middle.

At the end of the park, there are two ponds. Round the last pond and head back along the north side of the park, along the railroad tracks.

Round this last pond and head back
This is the spot where a couple of paths lead upwards from the ponds along the hillside to the north. This connects into another great route, into an adjoining park, the Rosenstein Park Route. If you want to add more kilometers, just connect them together!
The way home!