We have come to the end of our cycling tour of the Romantic Road and have a week left before we have to be back home in Blois. We look at the map to see where we can do some more exploring by bike. The Neckar river starts in Villingen-Schwenningen in the Black Forest and joins the Rhine in Mannheim. We manage to find a Bikeline map of the Neckar Valley and decide that Rottenburg am Neckar looks like a good base for four nights.
Ludwigsburg which is on the Neckar just north of Stuttgart looks like a good lunch stop. It has one of Germany’s largest Baroque palaces. It started off as a hunting lodge built by Ludwig of Württemberg at the beginning of the 18th century. Over the years it was expanded and improved until it became a royal residential palace.
After parking in the covered carpark in the large shopping centre opposite the palace we have an excellent cappuccino in an Italian osteria where everyone speaks to us in Italian. When we arrive at the palace at about 11.30 am, we learn that we have to join a one-hour guided tour. The next one in English is at 1.30 pm, which is a little annoying. We buy our tickets at 7 euro a piece and decide to have lunch into the very extensive gardens. But the entry is another 8.50 euro each which sounds ludicrous so we go into the little town centre instead. The heat is excruciating by now.
There is a fresh market in the main square which only seems to have cafés and no restaurants but we eventually find one that serves salads and pasta and settle for that. Its main recommendation is that it is on the shady side of the square. We buy some tomatoes and fruit before we leave. The vendor’s daughter tells us that her cousin is going to Australia for a year.
Our tour begins on time and our guide speaks good English and is very knowledgeable. Considering the time he spends on each room and in answering people’s questions, I don’t see how it can only take an hour. We can’t take photos, as usual, and Jean Michel has a description of the visit in French.
The castle consists of 452 rooms and 18 buildings but we are only visiting the Queen’s rooms and theatre. The main building has a series of rooms that connect up and form an enfilade that is 150 metres long. During the Empire period, the Baroque décor was considered to be outdated and the beautiful ceilings painted over. We find this part very boring although I hear some other people saying how pretty it is.
However, in the oldest part (the hunting lodge), the original Baroque decoration remains and is much livelier.
We are able to see the formal garden from the terrace of the palace. We learn that the gardens total 30 acres and are very beautiful. Maybe another time!
Although the Empire rooms seem very dull after all the Baroque and rococo we have been seeing along the Romantic Road, we still feel the visit is worthwhile.
Back in the car, we encounter a lot of road work along the way, something we have often experienced on the motorways in Germany. We get to Rottenburg around 5 pm and are looking forward to 3 days of cycling.