Tübingen is a quaint town near Stuttgart with its own Swabian traditions. Known as one of the youngest cities in Germany (thanks to the many students, the average age has been roughly 40 years), Tübingen can boast sloping, charming rows of houses in medieval style as well as a highly regarded university.
Things to see and do
Tübingen’s main landmark is most definitely the row of colourful, narrow houses sitting along the River Neckar. Part of this famous scenery is the yellow Hölderlinturm (Hölderlin’s tower) where the poet Friedrich Hölderlin lived until his death in 1843. Speaking of German writers, Tübingen is known as the city of poets and thinkers. Ludwig Uhland and Hermann Hesse spent some time of their lives in Tübingen, and a sign stating “Hier kotzte Goethe” (“This is where Goethe puked”) serves as popular memory of Goethe’s visit to the university town.
One of the many things to do in summer, or indeed any season, is a little tour along the river Neckar on one of the unique punting boats (Stocherkahn), resembling the boats in Cambridge. Every year, there is a boat race which normally results in very wet clothes and a drink of cod liver oil for the losing team. Originally introduced by students who make up 1/3 of the town’s population, this is a prime example of their influence on the city until today.
Historic centre (Altstadt)
The lovingly restored medieval town centre with its decorative facades and narrow alleys invite strollers to saunter about. The square-shaped market place is especially pretty, partly because of the town hall with a facade of paintings and its astronomical clock. Roughly 10 to 14 times a year, there is all hustle and bustle when tourists flock to town from all over the world to visit one of the many markets with little stalls spread across the historic centre. Germany’s biggest chocolate festival,The ChocolART; Umbrian-Provencal market and Christmas market are just a few of the most famous ones to mention.
Tübingen’s castle is located on one of the many hills that shape the town and are more often than not complained about. It is free to visit and offers a superb view over the town and surrounding hills. On clear days, one can even make out parts of the Swabian Alps.
Schloss Hohentübingen was mentioned for the first time as a fort in 1078, nowadays, it hosts different institutes and serves as a museum about ancient cultures. Parts of the rooms are used by the university.
Tübingen is primarily known as a student town. Its internationally renowned university, founded in 1477, is one of the oldest universities in Europe. Awarded with the title of “Elite University” in 2012, it offers about 30 study programmes and is especially famous for its scientific faculties. No less than eleven Nobel Laureates in Medicine, Chemistry and Physics are associated with the university.
The beautiful, historic campuses are situated right in the city centre, where the student vibe can be constantly felt. Especially popular is the old botanical garden, simply called “Bota”, located next to the main campuses. During the day, the park is used for playing sports or having a picnic and on warm summer nights, cosy get-togethers and barbecues are scattered across the park.
Tübingen is better known for itsbroad bar scene, rather than a clubbing culture. A mix of both can be found in the highly popular Schwarzes Schaf, a tiny café during the day, transformed into a bar/club at night. Further bars worth mentioning are Butterbrezel, Wohnzimmer and Bären. It’s worth noting though that the bars’ owners are constantly changing, and with them, the bars’ names.
Tübingen is a very good place to savour regional Swabian food. The best Kässpätzle and “sausage salad” can be found at the Wurstküche, and the Restaurant Mauganeschtle excels in homemade Maultaschen (pasta chunks filled with meat or vegetables). The Zuckerbäcker, located in the medieval Ammergasse serves the best cakes, as well as ice cream.
British-German Town Twinnings
Town twinnings between British and German cities play an important role in promoting cultural exchange. Tübingen has been twinned with Durham since 1969.