Württemberg was a lot like Prussia. Not in terms of its military strength or its population. No, it too was once a Duchy; then a Kingdom, and then known as a Free-State; its sovereignty lasting almost as long as the Holy Roman Empire itself (for which it was founded within it).
And what is it with all these places that keep changing their name, anyway?
Nowadays, many consider the area of what was once Württemberg as the other half of Baden-Württemberg — although there was that small piece of (gorgeous) land known as Hohenzollern Province in the south (called the Hohenzollernsche Lande in German). Plus, after World War II it was Württemberg-Hohenzollern (those Hohenzollerns even used to rule over Prussia; I guess there are even more similarities between them than I first thought) and Württemberg-Baden.
Everyone straight on it’s pretty much the same place, right?
However anyone calls it, all I know it’s one of the finest wine making regions in Germany (mostly reds), if not in the world. You know I’m biased, so why are you looking at me like that? ;-)
Yes, Baden also makes great German wines, but this isn’t about them.
Württemberg even had a school to teach you the “ins & outs” of wine making. Pretty nifty, if you ask me.
Because Württemberg lies within some fertile lands, wine isn’t (and wasn’t) its only cash crop. You can get yourselves some pretty yummy cherries or apples; and wheat, corn, and barley are grown throughout the region (which includes Swabia, and once parts of Franconia).
The best are the hops. Again, don’t be surprised — no hops, no German beer. ;-)
OK, fun time is over; it’s time for a history and geography lesson. As boring as that sounds if you’re not a history person, I can put it all into perspective for you.
Württemberg’s Kingdom (Duchy, whatever) stretched along Baden and Bavaria, all the way from Lake Constance where you can swim, sail, or see to Switzerland; to parts of the mystic Black Forest that’s famous for its cuckoo clocks, ham, and cakes; and includes historic towns such as Friedrichshafen, Heilbronn and Ludwigsburg (that was once its capital). Stuttgart, for the most part, was the real capital city of Württemberg.
I would be negligent in not mentioning Germman castles. Yes, lots and lots of castles. Wirtemberg Castle was the medieval home of Conrad I, the first ruler of Württemberg. In the former capital of Ludwigsburg, no trip is complete without seeing Schloss Ludwigsburg (where one Württemberg ruler lived with his mistress, the naughty devil).
These massive structures are a great way to see German history come alive (or dead).
Within a church in the town of Tübingen there’s the grave of Duke Eberhard, yet another Württemberg leader.
As with much of German history (and the world, I’m not picking on anyone) there’s been war. Württemberg was really affected by the Thirty Years’ War; one large battle being the Battle of Nördlingen in 1634.
In the early 19th century King William I wanted to help his people. It wasn’t until his wife’s death in 1819, did he really put his plan into action, creating the University of Hohenheim and a savings bank.
The last King of Württemberg was Wilhelm II, whose reign ended in 1918, as well as marking the end of the German Empire. For almost twenty years Württemberg was then a free-state, ending when the Nazis took power in 1933.
I think (I’m going out on a limb here) that Conrad I would be mighty proud of his Württemberg today. And I’m not talking about just his old capital city; I’m also talking ’bout its smaller towns like Esslingen, Oberndorf am Neckar, and Ravensburg.
So, what do say about joining me for a glass (make it a bottle) of one of Württemberg’s finest reds? Too bad King Conrad isn’t here to join us…