Sunday, June 11, 2017

Bookish Stuttgart

My trip to Stuttgart, at the beginning of this year, was a well-planned and much waited experience, which involved 48 full hours of exploration and the promise of a coming back. Although not on purpose as early, as I got lost trying to find our way to the hotel, it started with a visit at one of the top libraries in Germany, the Municipal Library - Stadtbibliothek - am Mailänder Platz.
The library is part of an area still in development - Europaviertel created around the main central station where main financial institutions are located -, aimed at offering a contemporary architectural alternative to the usual urban structures. If before, the castle was the beating heart of a city, in the modern world, knowledge overpass social status. The facade is made of a concrete cube made of 9x9 panels, which are illuminated from inside during the night. 
The building can be accessed from all the four sides of the building. The visitors can start their journey with a stop at the meditation room. Inspired by the Pantheon, it has in its center a small fountain wrapped in blue lights. 
After this first silent memento, the bookish adventure can begin. From floor 1 to 8, the soundproofed building lavishly displays an intricated maze of books. There is an art and children section, a music library and a big section dedicated to German and world literature. You can either read on one of the couches placed near the stairs or at the big tables indoors. The 79 million Euro investment, the work of Yi Architects, is an aesthetical surprise, rewriting the way in which libraries are created. A visit at the library means more than hurrying up to pick up your books, but can last as a search for new unexpected sources of knowledge in an inspirational environment. From the last floor, a terrace and a bar, one can also have a view over the new and old Stuttgart. 
After I left, my biggest regret was that I not live in this city to have the regular pleasure of searching for books on the shelves of this work of art.
But it seems Stuttgart has a tradition in terms of bookish love, as a couple of hours later I was exploring a 150-year old bookstore, Buchhaus Wittwer. Situated in the busy area of the Schlossplatz, the old times equivalent of the Europaviertel where the modern library is situated. The four-floor building hosts permanent conferences and meetings with the authors and has a significant English-books section. My favorite corners to explore was the one dedicated to thrillers - Krimi, in German - written by local German authors and the cute children section.
If you are a book lover and you visit Stuttgart, you will not be disappointed as this city has a generous offer for the bookish people like you - and me. 

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