My Favorite Attraction in Stuttgart, Germany - Monkeys and Mountains

Rubble Mountain: My Favorite Attraction in Stuttgart, Germany

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My favorite attraction in Stuttgart is not one of the several castles, nor is it one of the cities’ fine museums.

Attractions in Birkenkopf Stuttgart, Germany

It’s not even the world-famous Opera House, nor is it one of Stuttgart’s many festivals.  My favorite attraction in Stuttgart is in actual fact a big pile of rubble – 15 million cubic meters of it to be exact.  After World War II Stuttgart, like many cities in Germany were left flattened.  Stuttgart alone was air raided 53 times, destroying 45% of the city.  That’s a lot of rubble.  What do you do with more than 15 million cubic meters of rubble?

Rubble Mountain: An Attraction in Stuttgart

Build a rubble mountain!  In Stuttgart, the rubble mountain is called the Birkenkopf, but more generally rubble mountains are called “Monte Scherbelino” meaning “mountain shards” in child-like language, or “Schuttberg”  meaning a “debris hill”.  There are other names for them as well and most major cities in Germany have at least one rubble mountain as a memorial to all the people that died in WWII.

Rubble at the top of the Birkenkopf Stuttgart, GermanyI had heard the view from the Birkenkopf was one of the finest in all of Stuttgart, but I didn’t know what to expect.  Would we be crawling over the actual rubble climbing our way to the top?  Would we even know we were on a pile of rubble or had it all been hidden away?

Path to Birkenkopf Stuttgart, Germany
The path to the Birkenkopf

As we started along a tree-lined path, it seemed just like any other path walking through a forested area, covered with grass and lined with stones.  I would never have guessed that it was all sitting on top of a very large pile of rubble or that the stones lining the path were actually rubble from WWII. 

Then as we got closer, we saw a plaque telling us that the Birkenkopf sat at an elevation of 511 m, the highest point in inner Stuttgart.  That was the only sign that this was no ordinary mountain. 

Then as we came around the corner almost at the top of the Birkkenkopf it hit us. 

Rubble was on either side of us and piled up along 3/4 of the top of the mountain.  It hit me like a ton of bricks (pun intended) to actually see with my own eyes the destruction of war, and the lives lost, and that was not counting the 40m of rubble that I was already standing on. We were greeted by a memorial plaque in German that loosely translates as “This mountain was built after WWII from the rubble of the town to stand as a memorial of the dead and a warning to the living.”

Birkenkopf memorial plaque in Stuttgart, Germany
The memorial plaque at the Birkenkopf.

I noticed an elderly lady solemnly sitting on a bench looking out, but not really appearing to be enjoying the vast view of the city.  Perhaps she was thinking of loved ones lost in the war?  I didn’t have a chance to ponder any longer as I was interrupted by several laughing children engaged in a game of hide and seek.    It turns out rubble makes for excellent hiding places.

Children playing in rubble at the Birkenkopf Stuttgart, Germany
Rubble from WWII makes for a good game of hide and seek.

Once I pushed the destruction from my mind, I set out to enjoy the 360° view.  From the Birkenkopf you can see all the way to the Swabian Alps. And to the Black Forest on a clear day.

View from Birkenkopf Stuttgart, Germany
View of Stuttgart the surrounding area from the Birkenkopf. Unfortunately it was a cloudy day.
View of Stuttgart from the Birkenkopf, Germany
View of Stuttgart from the Birkenkopf.

The Birkenkopf is my favorite attraction in Stuttgart because it blends the past with the present.  You cannot help but think back to WWII when the destruction is sitting there staring you in the face.  It is a place for contemplation and reflection.  I always feel a bit melancholy when I visit the Birkenkopf, but it is also a place for hope. 

I was amazed.

The trees growing on the pile of rubble looked the same as the ones that were growing on a nearby natural hill.  Seemingly impossible but yet possible.  I could not help but think how far Stuttgart and Germany have come since WWII. Especially when looking out at the metropolis of Stuttgart. And that from the terrible, unspeakable tragedy of WWII something has been learned. And that past mistakes will not be repeated.  Hope and peace have emerged from the enormous pile of rubble. Be sure to see more places to visit in Germany.

Where To Stay In Stuttgart

5-Star

Althoff Hotel am Schlossgarten is located in the Schlossgarten Park in central Stuttgart. The hotel offers 2 restaurants, a daily breakfast buffet, and a terrace. The rooms are spacious and have wifi as well as scenic views of the gardens and vineyards. Rental bicycles are available at the hotel. 

Steigenberger Graf Zeppelin is located in the center of Stuttgart opposite the Stuttgart Central Station. The hotel offers a gourmet restaurant, a rooftop spa, free wifi, and spacious rooms. Guests are welcome to use the spacious spa area that includes a sauna, steam bath, and a fitness room. 

4-Star

Waldhotel Stuttgart is located in the forest, a 15-minute drive from the Stuttgart Central Station. The hotel offers spacious rooms, wifi, and a stylish restaurant and bar. Some of the rooms offer a balcony or a terrace. The hotel offers a spa, gym, and a sauna as well as a ballroom and tennis court. 

Jaz in the City Stuttgart is a lifestyle hotel next to the Milaneo shopping center. The rooms are spacious and offer fridges and coffee machines as well as a desk. The hotel offers a restaurant and bar on the rooftop terrace. Guests have access to the gym and wellness area that includes 2 saunas and a steam room. 

 

3-Star

Motel One Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt is located across the street from the subway station Bad Canstatt Wihelmspatzl.  The rooms are modern and offer wifi access as well as modern bathrooms. Some of the rooms offer balconies.

ibis Styles Stuttgart offers modern rooms with wifi and daily breakfast. The hotel is located 5km from the center and offers comfortable rooms with private bathrooms. There are an onsite restaurant and bar for guests to enjoy. 

 

The Birkenkopf in Stuttgart is located:

View Larger Map

“Schuttbergs” or rubble mountains can be found all over Germany. I would highly recommend visiting one if you are in Germany. It’s a great attraction in Stuttgart. Check with the local tourist office of the city you are visiting.

 

30 thoughts on “Rubble Mountain: My Favorite Attraction in Stuttgart, Germany”

  1. After seeing all the destruction of D-Day I got to thinking about Stuttgart where I spent 2-1/2 years in 1960 – 62. I will always remember rubble hill as well as all the destruction that still existed then. Thank you for the pictures. Frank

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  2. Pingback: Where to find ruins of war in Europe: the German hills of the dead and destruction (and rebirth) | Any Latitude | Just another mile forward
  3. Thank you so much for posting this… I lived in Stuttgart in 2004, and went here… But most of my pictures didn’t turn out and I had forgotten its name… I appreciate this more than words can tell you.

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    • Growing up in this beautiful city and hiking up the summit many times I never realized what I was standing on, until I went up Monte Scherpelino for New Years as a teen too see the spectacular view of the entire city and its fireworks. My friend told me the unbelievable history of the locality which made me feel proud of my hometown and gave me a sense of its history. I definitely think this is one of the most impacting places I’ve ever encountered. Monte Scherpelino and it’s history are one of the major reasons I’m filled with pride thinking of this amazing city. I feel very blessed to come from a place that spot-on knows how to deal with its dark history.

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  4. Fascinating! Thank you for posting! I lived in Stuttgart from 1952-56. My Army officer father was stationed at Robinson Barracks, a large U.S. Army installation. The post included a large apartment complex for military families. The apartments were located next to a beautiful orchard in a valley. The kids played in this orchard, where there were many bomb craters. On the other side of the post, there were woods and a line of concrete “teeth” that had been part of the Siegfried Line. My father was in the infantry during World War II; landed with his 90th Infantry Division on Utah Beach, D-Day, and fought across Germany, France, Belgium, Luxomborg throughout the war. He was an attorney, and served with the JAG Corps in Stuttgart in the 1950s. Part of his job was to assist German citizens seeking to relcaim their homes that had been abandoned during the war. At that time there were still many bombed out buildings in the city center, but rebuilding was ongoing. I had no idea that this rubble monument existed. I have always wanted to return for a visit, and if I get my wish, I will seek out this site.

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    • Robinson Barracks- in a somewhat smaller form- still is on top of the hill you remember from your childhood. In the 1980’s when I was stationed at Kelley Barracks across town, Robinson Barracks was mainly a large housing area and the site of the community PX & Commissary. After the Cold War the PX/Commissary complex was closed and returned to the Germans and is now a dense housing community compared to the rest of RB. Robinson Barracks is now fenced in and closed to the public.

      As to the Birkenkopf, remember that a significant portion of the rubble from the Bombings was collected and reused as Germany was very poor in the aftermath of th war. I do not know what percentage of rubble was reused versus piled up on the hill, but the hill would have been much higher had the Germans not reused all that could be recovered. The Trümmerfrau or Rubble Women did much of the clearing of debris and recovery of the city after the War. Theirs is a story largely forgotten outside of Germany.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trümmerfrau

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  5. As you found out – the Birkenkopf is now the highest point of Stuttgart with 511 meters. To have a mountain higher than 500 meters was the reason why the piled up the rubble exactly there. Otherwise they could have picked any other location at lower altitude and easier to reach. The inner city was the most severely destroyed part of the city. Thus they had to move these 15 million cubic meters rubble 200-300 meters in altitude to pile them up on the Birkenkopf.

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