For a heady century the small town of LUDWIGSBURG was adorned with grandeur as the seat of the Württemberg dukes and Germany’s largest Baroque palace. During that time a planned town developed on the basis of free land and building materials, and a fifteen-year tax exemption. The elegant Marktplatz at its centre suggests these planned origins with its perfectly balanced streets radiating from a statue of palace founder, Eberhard Ludwig, flouncing on a fountain.

When Friedrich I’s Neues Schloss rose in Stuttgart, 14km to the south, Ludwigsburg suddenly reverted to provincial obscurity, although its Versailles-inspired palace continues to draw visitors and delight lovers of Baroque. The town returns the compliment by theming as much as it can in this style, including its Christmas market. Other seasonal high-points include the mid-May Pferdemarkt, a traditional horse festival, with much clip-clopping around town; the Schlossfestspiele (June to mid-Sept; schlossfestspiele.de), a classical music, opera, dance and theatre festival; and, in early September, the Venetian-style costume Carnevale.

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