I visited Ladenburg in November, last year, as part of a German course I was taking and even though the weather was shitty, I thought it was a charming little place. The city is located in Germany, in the Baden-Württemberg region, on the shore of the Neckar River. It’s also close to the two more important cities in the area – Heidelberg (which is beautiful!) and Mannheim (where I once got lost).
As I said, we had horrible weather when I was there – it was awfully cold, overcast, it even rained if I remember well. It was winter and Christmas was right around the corner, but the atmosphere felt nothing like it when we got off the train. Still, as we got closer to the town center, things started to warm up a bit. Figuratively speaking, of course.
Ladenburg is really nice, but most importantly, has an impressive history, starting as a Celtic settlement, later to be turned into a Roman military unit and finally developing into a town about twice as its original size. The St. Gallus Kirche is now sitting on where a Roman basilica used to be, a basilica that was apparently three times bigger than the already huge church.
I’m sorry to say that I don’t know what is here to be seen. In winter, around Christmas, there’s a Weihnachtsmarkt – a market with everything from hats and hand crafted jewelry to different kinds of food. And Glühwein(…mulled wine?), too! Other than that, the internet also recommends the Lobdengau Museum, the Bishop’s Palace and the Chapel of St. Sebastian.
There is one thing I read and thought it was interesting. Apparently, in several German cities they have started to place some so called “stumble stones” - Stolpersteine. They are metal bricks put down on the pavement and they are supposed to commemorate individuals that were in one way or another victims of the Nazis. There are two such stones in Ladenburg, too (which I haven’t seen), placed in the memory of a man and a woman that were deported and eventually killed.
My personal recommendation is however a museum. More precisely, das Automuseum Dr. Carl Benz, which can be found as of 2005 in the old factory where the C. Benz Söhne vehicles were manufactured. Also, you could visit the house of the inventor of the gasoline-powered automobile, if you’re interested.
In 1904, Carl Benz moved to Ladenburg with his wife and child and two years later they founded a company with their own money, called C. Benz Sons. The cars gained popularity by constantly being present at races and probably by kicking everyone’s asses. Since they tried really hard to come up with efficient race cars, they eventually started to sell them too.
Also, his wife, Bertha Benz, seemed to have been a pretty awesome woman. After investing in her husband’s company and also giving him five kids, she decided that she was going to have more to say regarding the guy’s business. So after trying – and failing – to talk him into a more sensible plan of action, she just took matters into her own hands.
One sunny morning she got her two sons (I’m guessing Carl’s two most prized possessions), hopped in the car – remember, that wasn’t something people typically did at that time – and off she went. To see her mother, she said. In reality she had just put every dude to shame by becoming the first person to drive an automobile over a long distance.
After driving for a little over 100 kilometers and marketing the car by scaring the shit of the people she met (which was her plan all along), Bertha won herself the right to scream into her husband’s face “I told you so!”. After this funny event, not only had the vehicle gained a huge amount of publicity, but it was also considerably improved, growing to be a real financial and technical success.
As for the actual museum, all I can say is that you definitely won’t get bored, even if you aren’t a car enthusiast. There is plenty of information to read, early models of cars and bikes, race cars, old documents, all things car-related and a souvenir shop with things that one would in fact want to buy.
Wow, I really went overboard with the photos, huh? So anyway, that concludes our short visit. I’m not sure if you will find this useful, should you ever visit Ladenburg but I surely hope you enjoyed it!