Esslingen Things to Do

  • Esslingen on the Neckar
    Esslingen on the Neckar
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  • Marktplatz, Esslingen
    Marktplatz, Esslingen
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  • Rathaus, Esslingen
    Rathaus, Esslingen
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Most Recent Things to Do in Esslingen

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    Little Venice

    by Kathrin_E Updated Sep 24, 2010

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    Esslingen's

    Whereever a river runs through an old town there is for sure a spot that is named "Little Venice". Of course Esslingen has one, too: along the river branch named Rossneckar. The houses you see above the water are actulally those on the western side of the stone bridge.

    How to get there: The way to "Little Venice" is a bit hidden. Walk down the narrow passage named Schleifbergele along and around the Chapel of All Saints resp. town archive and through the little gate in the wall.

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    Chapel of All Saints, now Town Archive

    by Kathrin_E Written Sep 24, 2010

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    Stadtarchiv, former Allerheiligenkapelle

    The small, almost nondescript building in the corner south of the choir of St Dionysius is the former cemetera xhapel, dedicated to All Saints. It was built on the town wall on the edge of the churchyard and has two storeys. The actual chapel was sitting on top of the wall along the Neckar canal behind.

    In 1610, post-reformation, the chapel was turned into the town archive. The architect who planned this change was Heinrich Schickhardt, the same who designed the Renaissance facade of the old town hall.

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    Church of St Dionysius: Interior

    by Kathrin_E Written Sep 24, 2010

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    Choir with stained glass windows and altar
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    The church is open for visitors in the daytime.

    Inside, note:

    The high but rather dark nave with its small windows that have the gothic pointed arch but all in all the appearance is very Romanesque. The central nave has no vaults but a flat ceiling.

    The baroque organ in the west of the church is built around a window so the light falls in.

    Nave and choir are separated by a jube. Many churches in the middle ages had this, especially when there was a convent of monks or canons at the church, but few of them are preserved, so this is a noteworthy element.

    The altar of the Holy Cross in front of the jube is used for the usual Sunday services and is the main altar of the church.

    The choir contains the baptismal font and another altar with a retable. This altar may have been used for the Holy Communion after the reformation. The retable is dated 1604, thus post-reformation. The images match Lutheran theology: the crucification in the main picture, the last supper below, the sepulchre and the resurrected Saviour on top.

    The stained glass windows in the choir are the church's greatest treasure. They are originals of the late 13th century. They show scenes from the Old and New Testament, saints and virtues. Explanations of the figures and scenes, though in German only, can be found on a board that is lying on top of the baptismal font.

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    Market Square and Prettiest Half-Timbered House

    by Kathrin_E Updated Sep 24, 2010

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    Market square, Frauenkirche and Kielmeyerhaus
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    Twice a week the market square hosts the farmers market. The big festivals throughout the year take place here. The wide market square is a rather recent acquisition in the old townscape. Until 200 years ago this was the location of the Hospital of St Catherine which has been demolished in 1811.

    The square is surrounded by three churches. The huge parish church of St Dionysius occupies the southern side. In the west we find the catholic Münster St. Paul, the former Dominican abbey church, and further behind the Church of Our Lady, again protestant.

    The eyecatcher in the square is the gable of the so-called Kielmeyerhaus with its fine decorated timberwork. This building is actually the wine press and cellar of the hospital, the only remaining part. The relief with the image of Saint Catherine refers to its former role. In the 19th century it was sold and turned into a residential house and shop. The owner Alfred Kielmeyer had a soap factory and a shop selling products from the colonies. His shop sign is still on the facade. However, nowadays the hosue is the seat of an institution that is of more interest to visitors: the town's tourist information office.

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    Church of St Dionysius

    by Kathrin_E Written Sep 24, 2010

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    Church of St Dionysius
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    The Church of St Dionysius next to the market square is the main protestant parish church of the town. Its history begins long before the reformation, though. Excavations proved the existence of a chrch in this place already in the 8th century. The present church was begun in the early 13th century. The building shows the turn in style from Romanesque to Gothic.
    The basilical nave is the older part, still in late Romanesque style. The much higher gothic choir was added in the 14th century.

    The two steeples are Esslingen's landmark. Due to static problems they were connected with a bridge. A watchman lived up there and stood guard to warn the town in case of fire or attacks.

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    Postmichelbrunnen: Tale of Michel the Post Rider

    by Kathrin_E Updated Sep 23, 2010

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    Postmichel on his horse
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    ... as depicted in the reliefs on the fountain. See the pictures in photos 2-5.

    Once upon a time a very rich man from Esslingen was murdered. His corpse disappeared and the murderer was not found. His nephew inherited all his wealth and his death remained a mystery.

    Some years later a post rider found a precious ring somewhere in the forest by the country road (photo 2). He intended to deliver it to the authorities in Esslingen when he arrived there but in the meantime decided to wear it because it was so beautiful.

    He was wearing it in the tavern that evening but unfortunately it was recognized as being the ring of the rich old man who had been murdered (photo 3). Michel was arrested on the spot. Nobody believed him when he claimed to be innocent. He was tortured with utmost cruelty for days on end until the poor guy finally broke down and admitted he had committed the murder.

    Michel was to be beheaded as a murderer, although he was innocent and he knew it. His last wish was riding the streets of the town on his white horse once more and blowing his horn. He stopped n front of the victim's house, now inhabited by the nephew and heir, and predicted he would appear as a ghost until the true murderer was found. Then he died under the executioner's sword (photo 4).

    Every year during the night of St Michael's Day the ghost rider appeared in the streets of Esslingen, carrying his head under his arm and his horn blowing (photo 5). It finally turned out that the nephew had himself murdered the uncle and Michel was indeed innocent.

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    The Maille

    by Kathrin_E Updated Sep 23, 2010

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    Maille
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    The former wetlands between the Neckar canals underneath the stone bridge became a solid island in the run of the centuries. Nowadays this island is the only park in the centre of Esslingen.
    It is named "Maille" because in former times the people of Esslingen used to play paille-maille (pall-mall) here.

    Families: There is a playground for children.

    Photographers: Check out the views from the banks of the Neckar canals and of course the stone bridge.

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    The Inner Bridge: Esslingen's Ponte Vecchio

    by Kathrin_E Written Sep 23, 2010

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    Innere Br��cke with bridge houses
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    The stone bridge has provided a safe and dry way across the Neckar canals and the wetland between them since the middle ages. I call it "Esslingen's Ponte Vecchio" because it is built with houses. The western side is completely closed while the eastern side has small freestanding houses on top of each pillar.

    In the middle of the bridge there is a bridge chapel, the little gothic chapel of St Nicolaus. The chapel is a memorial site for the victims of the Nazi regime and World War II.

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    Altes Rathaus: Renaissance Facade and Clock

    by Kathrin_E Written Sep 18, 2010

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    Old town hall, Renaissance facade
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    The northern end of the building received a new facade in the 1580s. While the timberwork of the rest is late gothic, here we see purest renaissance style and no more timbers but plastered walls that are or pretend to be massive stone. Heinrich Schickhardt, probably Württemberg's best architect in those times, designed the facade. The sculptures of the virtues and the eagle were made by Schickhardt himself.

    The gable carries a small clock and bell tower with a carillon. Five times a day you can listen to the bells. The astronomical clock shows time, date and zodiac and the moon phase. The eagle and the imperial crown refer to Esslingen's status as a free imperial city.

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    Altes Rathaus - Old Town Hall

    by Kathrin_E Written Sep 18, 2010

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    Old town hall
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    Esslingen has three historical town halls. The oldest of them is the most beautiful and most impressive. The half-timbered building, six storeys high, was oribinally built as "bread and tax house" in 1422. It is a remarkable example of late gothic timberframe architecture. Note the elaborate construction with the pattern of "Alemannic men" and the big wooden nails in the timbers.

    The southern gable with its two gothic portals is facing a small square which is surrounded by other houses of similar age and style (photo 2).

    The southern side of the old town hall is impressive enough but make sure you walk around the building to the northern end, you'll think you see an entirely different building... more in the following tip.

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    Explore the Lanes of the Old Town

    by Kathrin_E Written Sep 18, 2010

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    Old town
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    The photos show random views: Esslingen's well-preserved old town is a maze of narrow lanes and alleys with cobblestone and houses built in timberframe work. Stroll and explore. You will discover little shops, wine pubs, gardens behind high walls, cellar doors, new views round every corner, and maybe also fancy little things like the metal watchdog on the corner of a house (photo 4 and 5).
    The old town quarter I am referring to is located east of the old town hall, Ritterstraße, around Hafenmarkt and beyond.

    Many half-timbered houses are thoroughly restored and show pretty facades. Many others hide their timberwork behind grey-brownish plaster. They could be just as pretty but they would need a renovation and the removal of those layers of plaster. I have noticed the same phenomenon in other Swabian towns, too - a sign of the proverbial Swabian skintness?

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    View from above

    by King_Golo Written Jun 18, 2006

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    View from Castle Hill

    If you have liked Esslingen's Old Town from within the narrow lanes, why not check out how it looks from above? The castle hill just behind the Old Town provides a great view over the valley and the town. It's really nice to see all those rooftops glimmering in the sunlight, surrounded by wineyards and steep hills.

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    Walk through the Old Town

    by King_Golo Written Jun 18, 2006

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    Esslingen's Old Town

    Esslingen's Old Town is kind of nice - many narrow streets and timber-framed houses. Apparently, even the two oldest houses of this kind are found in Esslingen, but I didn't find them... Bad luck!
    There is nothing that I would particularly recommend, except maybe for the town hall which is one of the most beautiful buildings in Esslingen.

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  • Rundgang (Walk around) in Old Esslingen

    by pbyrne1107 Updated Jul 21, 2005

    Esslingen is a very nice place to spend a few hours just walking around the inner city. As noted in another comment it is an old imperial city with some excellent examples of Fachwerk (Wood and stone) buildings. There are a lot of pedestrian streets with most of the other streets limited in traffic, making for a very pleasant stroll along cobblestones.

    A tourist information center is located across the square from the side of the main church (two steeples - cant miss it...), that can give you everything you need to spend a few hours, or better yet a whole day, exploring this picture-postcard city. Be sure to try one or two of the varied and excellent restaurants in this cosmopolitan city - Italian, Greek, Turkish, Chinese, German, and yes, real Swabian places. Skip Stuttgart and come here.

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    Stadtkirche St Dionys

    by antistar Updated Nov 2, 2004

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    Stadtkirche St Dionys, Esslingen
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    This impressive Romanesque-Gothic church dominates the Markplatz, and is constructed with two high towers, connected by an improbably dangerous looking covered bridge. These served as a defensive look out for the town, and I do not envy the job of anyone sent up to those death defying heights, to sit in a flimsy wooden passage high above the town.

    Inside the church is a museum. About 40 years ago excavations under the church revealed remains of earlier churches on the site as far back as the 7th century, and you can see evidence of this in the exhibits. The museum is only open on Thursdays and Sundays until 3 and 3.30pm respectively. The entrance fee is 2 euros.

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