The City between Tradition and Modernity
Medieval half-timbered houses and innovative architecture meet in perfect harmony in Esslingen am Neckar. A symbol for the diversity of its citizens and culture - experience Esslingen’s signature charm.
Esslingen am Neckar is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in Baden-Württemberg, and this is not without reason. Whether it’s the medieval traces of the former imperial city or Esslingen’s more future-orientated and innovative assets, visitors and residents alike are able to experience new aspects of the city time after time.
Famous far beyond city borders, Esslingen Castle is the city’s beloved landmark and immediately catches every visitor’s eye. Discover this medieval piece of Esslingen and many other attractions.
- City fortifications: Esslingen Castle has been the city’s most recognizable landmark for almost 700 years. Preserved elements in the Old Town of the corresponding city wall include the Schelztor, the Pliensauturm and the Wolfstor. The castle is open to the public, and the famous Dicke Turm has also recently reopened for visits by guided tours. The ascent of more than 300 steps rewards visitors with a unique view over the city.
- Old City Hall: With its varied façades, the Old City Hall, which was built in 1422 as a merchants’ and excise building, is the jewel of the Old Town. The south face is adorned with ”Allemanisch” timber-framing, while the northern face was extensively modernized during the renaissance, and since then has sported a small, two-story clock tower. Inside the clock tower is a glockenspiel, which was donated by the citizens of Esslingen in 1926 on the occasion of the building’s renovation. The glockenspiel has a repertoire of 200 tunes, which can be heard at various times throughout the day. The preserved original clock mechanism from the astronomical clock of 1591 is among the oldest in Germany. The wings of an eagle, the heraldic emblem of the former imperial city, beat in accordance with the striking of the hour.
- Imperial City Hall: After the great fire of 1701, building commenced in 1705 on the baroque Imperial City Hall. After the dissolution of the Free Imperial City, the City Hall was seized by the Duchy of Württemberg in 1806. Since 1879, the Esslingen Municipal Court has been based in the former Imperial City Hall. The interior is seldom open to visitors.
- Timber-framed buildings: The many well-preserved timber-framed buildings, which have escaped damage during conflicts, make Esslingen an important waypoint along the German Timber-Frame Road. Among these more than 200 timber-framed buildings in the Esslingen Old Town is the oldest example in Germany: The timber-framed house at Heugasse 3 was built by 1261, and is the highlight of the oldest line of timber-framed buildings in all of Germany.
- Pfleghöfe: Monasteries that were based outside the city, but that owned property in Esslingen, would build ”Pfleghöfe” as administrative headquarters or storehouses in the city. In the middle ages, ”Pfleghöfe” provided locations for doing business in the city and also served to represent the monasteries. Furthermore, wine was produced and stored in the huge cellars. The nine former ”Pfleghöfe” with their medieval appearance remain part of the cityscape to this very day. The oldest sparkling wine producer in Germany, the Kessler Sektkellerei, has been established in the Speyrer Pfleghof near the marketplace since 1832.
- The Market Square and Rathausplatz: The two central squares, the Market Square and Rathausplatz, are the setting for the annual Medieval and Christmas markets. The weekly market is held on the Market Square every Wednesday and Saturday from 7am to 12.30pm.
Monasteries and churches
In the center of the city, the towers of three churches rise high into the sky. The Gothic church of St Dionys is situated on the site where Esslingen was originally founded. The archaeological museum under the church displays the foundations of the oldest predecessor buildings. Just a few meters away from the Market Square is the Münster St Paul, the church of the former Dominican monastery. It is the oldest fully-preserved Dominican church in Germany. A little to one side is the Frauenkirche, built in the late Gothic style, with a 72m tower. Other important churches include the evangelical Franciscan Church of St Georg and the Südkirche, one of the most significant expressionist buildings. The churches in Esslingen are, for the most part, open to visitors.
The Maille Park
Situated in the heart of the city, between the two channels of the Roßneckarkanal and Wehrneckar, is the popular Maille island. The name of the park complex is derived from a French ball game called Pall-mall, which became increasingly widespread over the course of the 16th and 17th centuries, and was often played between the two channels of the Neckar canal. Nowadays, with its playing field, adjacent cafés and sunbathing areas, the Maille Park is a popular location for a spot of relaxation.