Explore local history in Stuttgart’s oldest city district

Story & photo by Carola Meusel
USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs Office


Bad Cannstatt is Stuttgart’s largest and oldest city district and holds centuries-old relics of Swabian culture and tradition.

Visitors to Bad Cannstatt will find a small piece of history on every corner of the city, including Roman settlements, medieval sites, fine wines and mineral baths.

Bad Cannstatt’s history dates back to A.D. 98 and is one of the largest Roman settlements in Baden-Württemberg. The Romans built a solid fort in Bad Cannstatt, which became the most powerful military unit between the Roman legions in Mainz and Augsburg. Today, visitors can still visit the historical Römerkastell. 

The Romans also cultivated Cannstatt’s bathing culture. Bad Cannstatt has the second biggest mineral water source in Europe, after Budapest’s city district of Ubuda. Locals refer to Bad Cannstatt as the “Sauerwasserstadt” (sour water city) because the mineral water is sulfurous. The mineral water originates in the Neckar riverbed. To this day, visitors and residents can enjoy the healing water at MineralBad Cannstatt, the Leuze mineral bath, and Bad Berg.

The Romans also planted the first grapevines in Bad Cannstatt.
“The Romans brought the grapevines all the way from Tyrol to Bad Cannstatt and placed them along the hillside surrounding the Neckar River,” said Thomas Jakob, Bad Cannstatt’s district mayor. For centuries, the city lived off its wine cultivation, Jakob added.

The most delicate and popular wine is the Cannstatter Zuckerle. This light, red wine received its name from the Zuckerberg (sugar mountain), which spans along the Neckar River between Bad Cannstatt and Hofen. The area, with its steep terraces covered in grapevines, is ideal for growing wine. Stone walls hold the terraces and store heat from the sun. The mild climate at the Neckar gives this wine its mineral component.

Almost a century after the Roman era, Bad Cannstatt was first officially mentioned in a document: the “Canstat ad Neccarum” (Cannstatt at the Neckar River), in the year 708. In 1330, Bad Cannstatt received its city rights from the Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian.

Bad Cannstatt’s Klösterle (monastery) was built in 1463 and was home to the religious order of the Beginen nuns. The Klösterle is the only Beginen monastery in Europe.

“The Klösterle is the oldest building in Stuttgart,” Jakob said. “To this day, Bad Cannstatt has kept its special medieval charm. Cannstatt has many timbered houses, and, with the Klösterle, the historical town hall and the city church, we have the oldest buildings in the greater Stuttgart area.”

Bad Cannstatt also witnessed the creation of the first automobile. Gottlieb Daimler, engineer and inventor of the first gas engine and the first automobile, worked on his projects in a small greenhouse at Bad Cannstatt’s Kurpark (park area). Back then, the local Polizei suspected Daimler was producing counterfeit money. Today, visitors can follow the success story of Gottlieb Daimler at the Mercedes-Benz museum in Bad Cannstatt.

The city is also a destination for nature lovers. The Wilhelma Zoo, a botanical-zoological garden, was built in the 19th century as the private “pleasure garden” and “love nest” for King Wilhelm I. The Rosenstein Castle in Rosenstein Park has a museum for natural sciences and is another historical landmark. The surrounding park area, Rosensteingarten, is modeled after a classic English garden.
“Bad Cannstatt has so many stories to tell. I was amazed by its vitality and rich history,” said Ingrid Foxall, who recently came from Tennessee to visit Bad Cannstatt. “Personally, I really enjoyed the hearty Swabian food at Cannstatt’s wine restaurants, as well as the Rosenstein castle and the park. It’s precious to find a green oasis in the middle of the city.”

Bad Cannstatt is also the home of the Cannstatter Wasen fest grounds, where the annual Volksfest (people’s fest) is held every year. The Volksfest was celebrated for the first time in September 1818. King Wilhelm I sponsored the event as an “agricultural fest” for his subjects after a three-year period of bad harvesting. This year’s fest will run from Sep. 24 through Oct. 10 at the Cannstatter Wasen.

From Roman-era baths to modern-day fest fun, Bad Cannstatt has had something to offer the Stuttgart community  — and the world — for centuries. Today, visitors can walk along its path of history, and enjoy traditional Swabian culture along the way.

For more information, visit www.stuttgart.de/bad-cannstatt. For Bad Cannstatt city tours in English, call Stuttgart Marketing at civ. 0711-2228-237.