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A visit to Sindelfingen on the outskirts of Stuttgart is generally associated with a visit to Mercedes-Benz. It's true that the company's main factory is situated here. But this pretty little Swabian town is certainly worth a detour in its own right. For a long time, the town was a centre for the weaving industry and it still has many small fashion boutiques – making it a great place for shopping.
From small weaver town to 21st century industry
Sindelfingen has retained more of its typically Swabian features than most other places in the region because it did not begin to grow beyond its original medieval centre until comparatively late. Industrialisation was slow – until Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft built a factory here in 1915. Within a few decades, Sindelfingen had evolved into a modern industrial town. This growth was accompanied by significant improvements in infrastructure. In the 1970s, when industry was pouring plenty of money into the town's coffers, some of the zebra crossings were even laid with Carrara marble!
Three town halls and one of Europe's largest street festivals
This and other aspects of Sindelfingen's history are explained at the municipal museum in the Old Town Hall built in 1478 and the adjoining salt house, which dates from 1592. The market square, where the Central Town Hall is situated, features the Friendship Fountain: a fountain in the middle of the square adorned with the mythical horse Pegasus and surrounded by six smaller fountains representing Sindelfingen's six twin towns. Finally, the Old Town Hall in the district of Maichingen houses part of the Municipal Gallery. German and international art from the 1960s to the present day is displayed at the Schauwerk Museum, which opened in 2010. There is also plenty to entertain those interested in industrial heritage: the old weaving school is home to the Weaving Museum, while the Museum of IBM Data Processing, which opened in 1994 in IBM's former punch-card printing factory, contains exhibits that not so long ago were at the cutting edge of technological progress.
Providing a contrast to all the museums, Sindelfingen is a buzzing town with many tempting shops and markets. The welcoming restaurants, bars and beer gardens serve excellent food and drink to suit every taste, whether Swabian specialities or international cuisine. Insider tips include the Lammbräu inn, which opened back in 1823, and the international street festival. Taking place on the third weekend in June, it is one of the largest of its kind in Europe.
Art at the swimming baths and history at the old grammar school
Schweinfurt's Kunsthalle gallery, housed in an indoor swimming pool built for the town by industrialist Ernst Sachs, is another striking example of museum architecture. Its New Objectivity style and generously proportioned exhibition spaces are ideal for displaying art. Another Schweinfurt highlight, the Otto Schäfer Museum contains around 1,000 illustrated prints, among them a fine collection of engravings by Albrecht Dürer, as well as first editions of German literary works from the Reformation to Realism. The Altes Gymnasium Museum (old grammar school museum) explores the origins of Schweinfurt, focusing on early history since the 8th century, Schweinfurt's time as a free imperial town, civic culture, the guilds and industrialisation. Fortunately for us, Schweinfurt can now offer both art and industrial heritage.